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Twisting all the bad things into good

May 21, 2012

CHAPTER 21. THE PATRON SAINT OF . . . WHATEVER: Strung Out Second Stringers



 So Sunday sat in the Saturday sun
 And wept for a day gone by. 
 Nick Drake, Saturday Sun
  

 SUNDAY. 9/12/10

        I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "Sunday Funday".
        If I were a girl or a gay guy, I might have.
        It was the best Sunday I had in a while.
        Compared to the previous, this Sunday was the Rehab pool party at the Hard Rock in Vegas.
     

        And so it began, week one of a brand new season.    
        The early game was over. I didn't even realize it started.
   
        Big Boy came into the rec room, letting Herb know Miami started the 2010 season with a win. Even after 22 years in South Florida, I still never gave a shit about the Dolphins. When I asked if Philly won, Big Boy said they were about to play the Packers in the 4:15 game, dropping me a hint, mentioning it was being televised.
       "Nice. Let's put it on."
       Herb shrugged his shoulders and Big Boy smiled, both techs indicating that it would have to be me who changed the channel, something they both clearly wanted me to do.
 
       
       I walked to the tv, where what seemed like a week long marathon of Law and Order SVU continued to play. I thought maybe the game would provide a better atmosphere than nonstop sex crimes. I thought some Vince Lombardi bullshit might win them over.
       "Alright, whose ready for some football?"
       Nobody.
       "Come on, who doesn't like football?"
       Everybody.
       If this was a prison rec room, I'd already be dead.
       If not dead, bleeding from the ass in the prison's special victim's unit.
       It's clear that this team is going nowhere.
       I dropped the enthusiasm, which on the tech's chart was probably referred to as "hypomania".
       "Well, does anyone mind if I put the game on?"  
      
       Big Boy took the spot next to me on the couch. We watched the game and talked football like we were friends. All we needed were wings and beer. Wings for Big Boy, beer for me.

       A few of my teammates expressed their disapproval at me changing the channel by heading to their rooms for a nap.
       I didn't care.
       By this time tomorrow, I shall be released.
       A free agent.
      
       My expectations for the season ahead were mediocre at best. This was going to be a year of rebuilding. The face of the franchise was gone. There would be new names, new faces, and a whole new defensive scheme.
       The future face of the franchise was an unproven quarterback, finally being given his chance to prove himself to be a starter.
       I never believed in him. I was not impressed by what I had seen.
       By halftime, the Eagles new starting quarterback went down with an injury.
      
       The time had come for a former superstar who had become a cautionary tale to be given his second chance.       
   
       Not everyone loves a comeback.
       That didn't stop him from going on to have his best season, and being awarded the Comeback Player of the Year.
       He was on my team, so it  was easy to forgive the unforgivable.
       If he had been a Cowboy or a Giant, it would be a different story.
       He would have always been one of the bad guys.

       Even though the good guys came up short on that particular Sunday, the season ahead showed promise.
       I had something to look forward to once I arrived in my new city, in my new life, where there was less than little to look forward to. At least on any given Sunday, I might be able to claim an Eagles victory as my own, wearing a jersey with someone else's name on it, someone who would never know my name or recognize me as anything more than just another painted face in the crowd, seeking justification for my vicarious existence.
       And that would be the best day of my week.
       That would be my "Sunday Funday".

       That would be a change from the feeling that overshadowed anything I ever did on Sundays. No matter what a good time I would be having, in the back of my mind I dreaded what was ahead.
       Mondays were even worse.
       Starting a whole new week, trying to shake off the mental and physical remnants of a rough weekend, having nothing to look forward to except the next one.
       Those were the worst days, trying to find a reason to make it through, looking for something to look forward to, anything to keep you sane until the next good time, when the next good time seemed so far away.



       After the Sun went down, Betsy showed up. This was a different Betsy from the one who I thought went to Vegas with me on Friday night, and then magically appeared in my room on Wednesday afternoon. This Betsy was a tech who was beginning her first shift since I had shown up. She looked to be in her mid twenties and some kind of Spanish. She was not as attractive, nor was she nearly as tall as Amazon, but much friendlier.

       Betsy joined in a conversation I was having with Herb, saying something laughable, like she was a Redskins fan or something. I don't remember what else we talked about, but somehow I must  have come off in a way that made me seem almost normal, or at least, just not as mentally disturbed as most of the people that she had seen come through this place.


       I was sitting on the couch, legs crossed knee over knee, like the kind of man who gets all giddy over a "Sunday Funday" when Betsy sat next to me.      
       "James."
       "Betsy."
       "What are you doing here?"
       "I've been asking myself the same thing. Basically, I was trying to get off painkillers, I had insomnia for months, then last Friday, I started hallucinating, on Wednesday I got Baker Acted and didn't realize I had been hallucinating until I woke up here Thursday morning."
       "What happened to your knee?"
       "Well, I thought I was fighting on a boat, but now I have no idea."
       "Do you want a bandage?"
       "I had one on there, but Brian said it needed some air if it was going to heal. And by the way, I normally don't dress like this. I probably have 20 pairs of jeans at home."
       "Are you a metrosexual, James?"
       "Am I a metrosexual? No, I just have a lot of clothes...and shoes. Probably more than most girls I know, but I don't do the manicure/pedicure thing, but that's probably only because I can't handle my nails being filed. I have been known to put on a clay mask on occasion, so, I don't know. "
       "That's so cool that you can admit that."
       "I guess. Maybe I've just been humbled by recent events."
       "Do I even want to know what you were doing before you got here?"
       "What do you mean?"
       "You said you normally don't dress like that, so I'm curious to know why you happened to be wearing Daisy Dukes when you got admitted."
       "You seriously thought I was actually walking around like this before I got here? These were jeans until the other day, but they were ripped from here to my ankle, so Brian convinced me to cut them off. He said I looked homeless, now I look like I hang out in truck stop bathrooms. So, no, I didn't dress like this on purpose."
       "Well, you have nice legs, James," she said before she stood and walked away.

      
       When Betsy took the smokers out for their last cigarettes of the night, I joined them.
       I always went outside during smoke breaks so I could walk around the small fenced courtyard to stretch my back. This time, it was to talk with Betsy.
       "How did you get here, James?"
       I thought I had already summed that up for her. Maybe she wanted the unabridged version of my story. I try not to talk about myself too much, but I figured I'd indulge her.
        "How did I get here? Wow. Well, during 4th of July weekend in, I guess it was 04, I dove into a pool and hit my head on the bottom, and then a few weeks later I started to..."
        "No. I mean who brought you here? A cop?"
        "Oh. Yeah."
        "Man or woman?"
        "I'm all man."
        "The cop."
        "He was a man too. I thought there was a black woman cop with a jheri curl in the passenger seat, but there wasn't. Just the guy."
        "What was his name?" she asked.
        "I don't remember his name. I was kind of out of my mind at the time. He was cool as shit though."
        "What department?"
        "Boca. What's with you and cops?"
        "I was married to a Boynton cop."
        "Oh, alright."
        "He told me he wanted to get a divorce by texting me."
        "He texted you that he wanted a divorce? Are you serious?"
        "Yup."
        "Damn. Even I'm not that shallow. I wouldn't do that to a girl I was dating, let alone someone I was married to. That's messed up."             
         "So what are you going to do when you get out of here, James?"
         "I have a court date on the 25th for my DUI, then I'm gonna move up around Philly where my family is. First thing I'm gonna do as soon as I get to my apartment is write down everything that I can remember about my hallucinations before I forget. I wish they'd let us have a pen and paper here, I would have been writing the whole time. I'm gonna write a book about everything that happened."
         Even though Betsy barely knew me, it was like she had known me for 25 years.
         "You know, James, it's one thing to talk about it, it's a whole other thing to do it."
         I assured her I would.
        

         Before lights out, I went up to the tech counter.
         "Betsy. I'm probably getting released tomorrow, so I just wanted to say goodbye."
         "Okay, James. Good luck up North. Stay clean."
         Again, I assured her I would.

         It's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to do it.

         The story of my life.
       
         Sunday night lights.

         Out.


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