A short story, fiction-Lennie's story of addiction and recovery
Lenny stumbled into the den to refill his empty whiskey glass.
Lenny sat looking at the unlit Christmas tree he'd put up the night before. He'd been drinking for days.
It was two years ago when he lost his wife Annie and his son Tommy on a busy interstate just outside Houston, Tex. The car she was driving was hit head on by a four wheeler. They both died instantly.
He was dangerously close to losing his job in advertising. A job he'd had since college, the only firm he'd ever worked at. His boss Edward warned him several times, " You've got to get yourself together, the firm needs you. Your wife and son are gone, there's nothing you can do to bring them back. " His warnings only danced around deaf ears. His pain was too deeply embedded to reason.
Lenny stumbled into the den to refill his glass. He attempted to pour a drink, but the much needed fix was empty. He flung his glass across the room smashing a glass top coffee table. He slumped down in a chair on the verge of passing out. In the distance he heard voices, children's voices blending together. Oh Holy Night were the words that lingered in his psyche. Stumbling toward the door, angry and afraid he wanted to tell them, " Get the hell away from his house. " When he finally opened the door he saw children, boys and girls singing cheerfully, eyes sparkling with glee. A woman was standing behind the children. He couldn't see her clearly, the children's shadow blocked his view. He couldn't see how beautiful Barbara was with her blonde hair cascading down her back, a sweet face, full lips and a happy smile. He started to shout, " Go away " but he fell passing out halfway through the doorway. Barbara noticed blood on the floor. She quickly dialed 911. The ambulance arrived and took him to the nearest E.R. He had a small abrasion on his forehead that only required two stitches but he had more severe problems. His blood pressure was 200 over 190. He was admitted and placed on a heart monitor and given a diuretic to remove excess fluid, hoping to bring his blood pressure down. The next morning he woke up with a pounding headache. He told himself that he needed a drink really bad.
He heard a woman's voice, asking him " How are you feeling? " He looked up and saw Barbara clearly for the first time. She explained that she had brought the children by his house to sing Christmas carols when he fell. He felt ashamed, yet he craved a drink so badly it was difficult to listen to her talk. She saw his restlessness and told him that she would go and return at a better time. The Doctor stopped by to see him and told him that his blood pressure was high enough to have a CVA, ( Cerebrovascular accident ) stroke. He told him that if he didn't stop drinking he would die a young man. He also told him that he would help him with alcohol withdrawal by giving him a nerve pill, the rest is up to you if you want to live. He told him about an organization called AA ( Alcohol anonymous ) that helped people addicted to alcohol world wide.
Lenny knew if he didn't stop drinking he would die so he started on his journey to recovery.
He was released from the hospital after three days of medication to ease his withdrawal. The social worker in the hospital notified AA and asked them to come see him. He promised he would attend a meeting that night. He was surprised to see so many there, each one stood and told their stories and the road to recovery. Their stories were much like his. Lost loved ones, veterans still fighting the war in their head's. He was totally surprised to see Barbara walk to the front to tell her story. She lost her husband in the Iraqi war and gave birth to a still born baby girl. She said that AA had saved her life and she was so thankful. Lenny couldn't move. He couldn't tell his story it hurt too much. Everyone welcomed him shaking his hand and offering support if wanted, each giving him a phone number to call.
He was feeling better the next morning in fact he felt like going back to work. Edward smiled and slapped his shoulder telling him, " It's good to have you back. " He got busy working on a project and the day passed quickly. When he returned home his hands started to shake. He wanted and needed a drink. He drove down to the hall where the AA was located. After opening the door he turned back and started to go to his car. He heard a familiar voice say," I'm here Lenny do you want to talk? " He turned and saw Barbara. All of a sudden his words began to overflow. He told her about his loss, his loneliness and feelings of despair. She listened quietly and when he began to weep she held him telling him, " Let it all out then try to let it go. " He felt warm and protected in her arms, a feeling long forgotten. He began the healing process, each day seemed better and finally he felt like he had something to live for.
The Christmas tree was still standing. He turned the twinkling lights on and called Barbara. He put on a CD of Luther Vandross's song, ' Always And Forever ' When she opened the door he swept her into his arms and danced slowly, whispering in her ear, " Thank you for believing in me. I love you. " She kissed him passionately, whispering, " I love you too Lenny.