I’ve been sleeping for three weeks in the back wing of George’s house when he wakes me up one evening to tell me I have court the next morning. I guess he really wants that $500 back he had to put up to bail me out of the Richmond Jail.
“Do you think we can have it rescheduled?” I ask, only half joking, “I’m really not feeling well”.
Two days ago, I’d found a solution in a cabinet and thrown it over one of the giant wooden rafters artfully exposed in the high ceilings. The only thing that had stopped me was that I didn’t know how to tie it properly, and the Wi-Fi wouldn’t work to let me on YouTube so I could learn. Just another letdown.
It had been a difficult Christmas, and the evidence of my failures, moral and otherwise, lay in heaps on the oriental rug. Christmas at home keeps playing in my head on a sickening loop. So much I can’t take back. The real highlight of the season had been when Christian proposed to me in a room at the Hilton. I was high, naturally, so I said yes and then took twenty selfies of myself in the bathroom mirror wearing the giant diamond ring. The only problem with it, other than being a little flashy, was that it was entirely too large.
Christian said he had to get it fitted for my finger, and that’s why he wanted to hold on to it. I knew why he’d bought it too large though. So, I couldn’t sell it for drugs before the wedding, which was my very first thought when he put it on my finger.
There was no way I was going to marry Christian, but there had to be a way to get the ring off him first.
When I finally get back to George’s around New Years, I get in bed and don’t leave for weeks. I stop answering the phone for anyone but my parents. I have finally reached a point of utter disgust with my life and the people in it. I’m tired of chasing things, so I decide not to refill my Suboxone or half dozen scripts of uppers and downers. It’s one of the worst detoxes yet, and I’m still deep in the middle when the court date finally rolls around.
Riding in the car with George is hellish, and I can’t seem to get warm enough or sit still. It’s raining out, but the rain keeps threatening to turn to snow. George is talking too much and far too loudly for my liking, so I try to sleep but it’s no use.
Twenty minutes before we get to the courthouse in Arlington, I change into the suit I had dry cleaned last month. I throw on the Blue Tommy Hilfiger tie George pre-tied it for me that morning. Obviously, I haven’t mastered any knots.
When we step out of George’s car I run some wax through my hair. I check the results in the back mirror as I light a cigarette and George says, “that’s not fair”.
I scrunch up my face and mutter a ‘huh?’, irritated with the sound of his voice.
“That you can run your fingers through your hair after getting dressed in a car and look better than me”.
My mood brightens and a smile creeps out. Maybe I can get through this today.
The elevator opens, and I see the IRS agent and her friend Jackson sitting in the row of seats outside the courtroom. I pick a seat next to the IRS agent and collapse into it.
“Aren’t you glad you got a morning off of work?”
Her hair is wet, and she doesn’t smile.
“No, this is fucking ridiculous”.
I can feel Jackson’s silent disdain without even looking at his face. He must have finally figured out that I’d been leading him on to get favorable testimony. About time really, although I still need him to acknowledge his statement to the judge. That I didn’t hit my Ex that night. Then he can disappear forever. I barely have the energy to stand, let alone manipulate someone into perjury, so I’ll just sit here and say as little as possible.
I hear the elevator ding and the Ex emerges. He’s alone and wearing the shirt I like that brings out his eyes. He has a tan and looks rested. I get up to hug him and nearly pass out when the blood rushes to my head.
The Ex eyes George suspiciously as he sits, and we all make forced small talk. George tells him that I’ve taken over the whole back wing of his house on the hill.
“Yeah, I’ve basically trashed it”, I tell the Ex. For some reason this makes me laugh, so I say it again.
Jackson glares at the Ex as the IRS agent talks into her Iphone.
“Obviously, my life is at a real high point,” I say to him as I roll my eyes and get up to use the bathroom. I splash water on my face and stare briefly at the mirror. My face looks good without the weight, and I resist the urge to cry.
I fall back into the chair and think ‘this really couldn’t get any worse’. As if on cue, the Ex smacks me in the shoulder and points to my right.
“Did you invite him!?”
Christian is standing down the hallway in a suit, holding a manila folder.
“You better go get rid of him,” he whispers.
I don’t have any faith in my current powers of persuasion, but I suppose I should try. I drag myself upright and walk halfway down the hallway. I hope Christian doesn’t notice that I’m wearing one of his coats.
“Do you want to talk?” Christian says.
“No, I just want you to leave,” I yell in his direction with my fingers buried into my closed eyes.
The Ex finally gets him to go by telling him he has no business being here with us. A security guard in the corner side eyes our cast of characters but doesn’t get involved.
Christian gone, I sink down the wall of the hallway and sit on the floor.
“Aren’t you tired of all of this?”, the Ex asks, looking down at me.
“Yeah of course, but I can’t seem to find a way out”
“There are so many NA slogans I want to say to you right now,” he says with a half-smile.
“Please don’t, I already feel like I’m going to puke”.
“Why don’t you move back to Winchester and get into a recovery house?”.
I know what he means by this, and the thought of being with him again makes the withdrawal symptoms temporarily disappear. I hold out my hand, and he helps me up off the gritty marble floor.
The IRS agent gets called into a meeting room by my meek public defender. When she emerges I interrogate her. I just want to make sure she stuck to our story.
“They showed me a picture of that kid that looks like you?”
“Yeah whatever, Jake, and I was like, oh that’s that kid that beat up that girl!”
I start laughing.
“What are you talking about?”
“You don’t remember Jake punching that girl?” she asks, smoothing down her damp hair.
“No, I must have blacked out”
I turn to the Ex, “This judge is going to think we are insane”.
As if to prove my point, Christian walks back into the waiting room and everyone yells at him again.
“At this point, he’s stalking you,” George says to no one in particular.
Court begins and we all file into the small wood-paneled room. When it’s time for my public defender to speak she begins by saying “this was a party where incessant amounts of alcohol were consumed”.
I put my hand to my face to cover my smile. It’s something about the way she says ‘incessant’, like it’s a dirty word she just started using in public. Don’t laugh Nick, this is serious.
I hold it together for the next 20 minutes and the judge dismisses my charges. Probably because he can’t discern what happened that night over so much conflicting testimony, including the hand-delivered letters from Christian telling him how my friends were lying for me. I don’t even really know what happened that night. I went to jail for 24 hours, and my parents wrote a couple of checks.
I make the Ex hug me in the parking garage even though he’s visibly pissed off that I took up his entire morning with my nonsense.
I’m eager to get back in bed, but I feel better on the drive home.
I know there are good things in store for me back in Winchester, back with Him.