- Life After People
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[End Page 10]
You're late," says Jesse on Tuesday as I slide into a seat beside him."Traffic," I say."Hmruphh," says Jesse."And what did I miss?"Jesse makes a shushing sound. [End Page 11]
Lorraine is at the podium. She's going on and on about it being March Madness and how that man of hers, Jerome, is bringing home beer to watch the basketball games. "Beer in my house!" she screeches. She's a stone-cold wino and Valium addict, but beer is beer. It ain't right, him puttin' the temptation right in her own fridge! On and on she goes.
I sneak a look at Jesse. He's shaved his face too rough; the left side is red. Jesse is my sponsor. He's a good guy. He's tough. Doesn't give me any wiggle room. Largely because of him I've been sober, yes, really, for almost 120 days. Every day of it has sucked. Jesse's been sober for fifteen years. I can't imagine.
I have twelve days left on my court-ordered sentence. I'm counting down the days. Summer is coming, and I can't imagine a summer without margaritas, daiquiris, cold beer, chardonnay, or gin and tonic.
I keep driving by the Oasis, a warehouse-size liquor store on the other side of town. No reason for me to be on that side of town, but I keep thinking about walking the brightly lit aisles with the little neon signs marking the sections: gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey. I dream of all the shining bottles so gloriously displayed, each offering its own specific truth. I keep sweating. Every day that the calendar flips over, I'm closer to April 24 and getting my real life back.
My DUI wasn't much. I was leaving Ricky's Tavern, a downtown bar; I was backing out of one of those angled parking spaces, and my car brushed a homeless guy on a bicycle. Some weird mission downtown provides bicycles for their "clients" to help rebuild their self-esteem and give them some autonomy. The bike frame was warped, but the guy, Jamal Parker, wasn't hurt. Just some torn jeans, scraped knees and palms. I was working it out with him, twenty dollars in cash and my gold bracelet, which was 24-carat; he could walk one block over and pawn it for more cash. Jamal was being cool with it. But some do-gooder sitting in the coffee shop on the corner called the police.
Suddenly, Miss Serious Policewoman was there, saying shit like "You could have killed this man! I smell alcohol; have you been drinking?" And though I tried to claim otherwise, the do-gooder had reported that I had, indeed, walked out of Ricky's. And later, video from the bar would show me sitting there for an hour and a half, drinking four Coronas, knocking back two shots of Cuervo. Shit, who knew Ricky's Tavern had cameras! Even before that video surfaced, Miss Serious Policewoman was more than happy to take to me jail after I declined the Breathalyzer test. Every barfly in the world will tell you to refuse the Breathalyzer or [End Page 12]
kiss your license good-bye. Me without a license would be me without a job. I work for a title insurance company, and at least a couple of times a month I have to drive around the state and do audits at law firms.
But let me tell you, twenty-seven hours in the county jail is no good. Bad. Scary. It felt like a week. And there's something about being in the drunk tank that makes you feel drunker. And of course you can't believe you're really there at all. I kept telling the Tanisha girl, "What the hell is this? This is not happening to me." I kept beating on the walls and the locked bars. She just laughed like a little bubble fountain. "White girl, you is some fucked-up Wonder Bread!" When finally my brother threw my bail...