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Old 04-18-2015, 08:05 AM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 115
Default eye of the storm

After what seemed an eternity of silence, the phone finally rang.
It startled me. The last few days spent licking my artificial wounds by
a point about an unorthodox welding skill was in complete contrast to what I'd signed on to do. My limited production was now fixed on peruse of a newspaper. It was October of 2000. The Cole had just been bombed. The telephone was a distraction, yet a welcomed one. Even more so, was the first three digits, and a sense of vague familiarity.

After a brief inquiry into my present state of affairs, which was met with a litany of lies, I then launched into a soliloquy of mostly bull, sprinkled with an undertone of ambiguous, cheap flattery, (a trademark) and informed him, that I was in between jobs. The real truth was that I hadn't hit a lick at a snake since I'd stormed off from the petroleum plant a few weeks prior. Oh there were a few odds and ends that came along from time to time, but I spent most of my days doing very little of anything.

He followed-up with a request. As it turns out, he had a job opening at a con-struction site in Concord, North Carolina at a Corning. The job was to be a liaison between a steel fabricator, which was his company, and the steel erector, which was a company out of South Carolina. I had no experience.

I viewed this as yet another chance to turn over a new leaf. It was time to finally grow up. I was thirty-four. The heavy partying, burning the candle at both ends, the irresponsibility, it was over. It was time to grow up, and for once, be a mature adult. And after conveying this to my immediate family, after getting very little of encouragement or approval, I was determined more than ever to pull myself up by my boot straps, and get this thing right. Admittedly short-lived, this "thing" did in fact take a turn for the better. The progression of my addiction was forced into hiatus.

The job had been left in a mess. The erectors often received revised drawings that, along with the daily delivery of four copies of new drawings, were left unopened, and tossed in a pile on the floor. People walked around small stacks of them. What served as a work space was this desk in the middle of a job trailer and a constant traffic flow of workers. This parade of humanity inadvertently interrupted important, telephone conversations, making it difficult to concentrate. One day I actually turned around and hollered at them to shut up, that I was trying to talk on the **** phone. After a few seconds of silence, the sound level returned, louder than before.

In an attempt to get some peace and quiet, I bought my first cell phone, and started working longer hours. The leg work on site was done during the day and organizing the office could be done in the evening. I was paid a good salary. And faced with the choice of either going to a motel room, or getting some work, it was much easier to choose the latter.

The months that followed were different. It felt like something was happening. Oh I would have a few drinks every now and then, but nothing that got outta hand. But something that I've discovered is that undeniable fact that even though I could experience those periods of so-called "normality", something was also just beneath the surface wanting to blast out. Moderation for me, I found was much more a curse, than a blessing.

This was obvious. After a couple of drinks at the bar, a bottle of wine during a good meal, when a lot people simply call it a night and head on to bed, my appetite would just be getting teased. There had to be a toke, a bump, a hit. So, I would force myself to go to bed. Right then, I was stuck with just the legal stuff, you know. The booze. Then a little more, and a little more, and a little more.

So self-assured I'd finally "arrived" the purchasing power of my disguise,
was none other than the corporate apartment. I bought in to the seductive
charm of what I'd chased for years. Little did I know the financial success
I was building, was sitting on nothing more than a plank I'd chosen to not
only walk, but to also saw off directly behind me. Somehow, I didn't see
this coming. I was always so convinced, that I was okay.

The dwelling did have sort of rather dull appearance. The only chairs which had so humbly graced by this open air, were two adequately placed bar stools. These were seldom, if ever, used, and yet severed the empty boundary between the kitchen
and the island that they occupied. The room itself contained a cable, that ran out along the bare wall, and hooked to a television which also sat alone in the floor.

Since the stools faced opposite the t.v., I'd usually just stand there behind the bar,
in the kitchen watching.

The bathroom was one of those parlor light deals atop a double vanity
where housed a bunch of empty cabinets and drawers below the lights
I used to dim, and see my aura on the beige wall behind
an empty looking reflection. Some days it looked worse than others.
I was used to keeping all the toiletries in a shaving kit, which stayed on the counter top,
displaying randomly the contents,strewn everywhere between two sinks.
There were never any distinguishing features. No flowery frog decorations.
No spring Renoit. No inspirations.

Just as bad, one bedroom bore the same cream carpet camouflaged
with an off white fitted and slightly threadbare cover sheet on a mattress and a box.
It blended well, when combined with the absence of anything or anyone,
including myself.

When the place was finally vacated months later, the only emptiness of the place lay
in the imprint left from the vacated bed remaining
on the cream colored floor.

If a reflection of life flashed before me in six month intervals, those few months
of existence in Charlotte during 2001 would blink of two things.

First, the devils and flyers played a seven game series. I don't
know much about hockey, but used to enjoy listening to the games on t.v.
while I drank, cooked, and drank some more
in the kitchen.

Knock the guy with the puck on the ice and score. I could keep track
of what was going on without having to give the entire game my
undivided attention.

If I missed something good, the crowd would make a bunch
a noise, and they'd show a replay.

Then there was a Italian grill down the street that I occupied several
nights a week.

The food was good. So was the service. The bartender made it simple.

“Beer, wine, or scotch?”

No explanation was ever needed for any of the three, and I liked that. It made me really feel like I was somebody special. A real big shot.

Uneventful, or so it seemed at the time. For I never actually new how much that Italian Grill seeped into the nooks and crannies of my head until years later when I walked into one of their franchises here in town, with only a few months sober under my belt.

The unmistakable aroma from the grill began to play a mind game on my trigger-happy brain, the entire night. It was then and there, that I saw first hand how cunning, baffling, and powerful this thing called alcoholism was.
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