This week my Pick of the Week is centered on alcohol. Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of the best nightclubs in Las Vegas. Everything was free of charge and I imagine, for most people, it would have been a great night. But I view these evenings with different eyes. I don’t see fun and laughter. I just see misery and pain. I wish I was different, I really do. I wish I could enjoy myself like everyone else…but I can’t. I find it very difficult to explain to people why I hate alcohol so much. Why I believe it is the destroyer of lives and how it fools everyone into believing that it is their friend. So over time I am going to slowly share some stories with you and maybe it will make sense. I also hope it will take your focus away, from what you perceive to be the happiness alcohol brings, and instead allow you to focus on what damage it can do as well.
I was vomiting in a bathtub. In fact I wasn’t vomiting because I had already emptied the contents of my stomach several times, but I couldn’t stop the vomiting action. I was hysterical, maybe crying, but certainly flailing around like I was drowning in water despite the bathtub being empty. I didn’t have a t-shirt on and I can only assume it was in a heap and covered in vomit. I distinctly remember the yellow bile that was being regurgitated from my mouth and worrying about the slivers of blood that stained it like a broken birds egg that had not fully matured. I was in the arms of my girlfriends Grandmother and it was the first time she had met me. My girlfriend was crying by my side because she knew her parents were going to find out about the bathtub episode. How would she explain it? I passed out and woke up in the middle of a football field. I remember that I was soaked wet with dew and I had pieces of grass in my mouth. I was fourteen years of age and that is what happens when you fill a green plastic bottle up with various spirits and then drink it.
I was in Newport, I must have been 18-years old, and I walked outside a nightclub with a fag in my mouth. As I walked down the steps a bloke asked me for a cigarette. I remember thinking, “who is this cheeky bastard?” I told him I didn’t have any and remember him saying, “I’ll have that one then mate,” before ripping the fag from my lip along with a thin layer of skin. What happened next happened in a few minutes, but it seemed like an hour. I remember thinking he was smaller than me and that I could take him. I opened my mouth and went to say, “you will be eating that in a minute,” when he punched me several times in the face. Before I could retaliate two of his friends had grabbed both of my arms and pulled me tight like a clothesline, while the fag snatcher kicked me in the face repeatedly. After a while they got bored with me and let me go. I turned around, as blood and phlegm dripped to the ground, and I saw my friend lying in a pool of blood – he was being beaten over the head with a bottle of Budweiser. I didn’t know what to do next so I just threw myself on top of him and took the blows myself.
I was lying in a hospital bed and I could feel a pain in my arm. I looked down at it and it was bandaged tight and I couldn’t bend my elbow. I had the most amazing headache and I looked across and there was another bed and in it lay a man who was rigged up to some sort of device that seemed to aid his breathing. I got out of bed and walked out into the hallway. I remember realising that there was no back to the gown and my arse was cold and on display for everyone to see, except there was no one there to see it. My friend Miguel was sitting on a bench and he came over to me and told me that I had received 28 stitches in my arm and had nearly died because the cut was inches from the main artery running up my arm. Earlier in the night I had drunk a whole bottle of Brandy Sour and taken some amphetamines. Sometime during the night I had lost my friends and ended up alone. The next time they saw me I was banging on their door at the hotel room. They opened it and I was holding my bicep in my hand. I had been beaten and stabbed and my bicep was in my hand. There was blood everywhere and I just seemed to think everything was normal. Later when I was lucid I told my friends to promise not to tell anyone what had happened because I didn’t want to worry my family. They broke their promise and told someone what had happened and before you know it my mother had been told that her son had been stabbed whilst on holiday in Cyprus. She had no way of getting hold of me. Know way of knowing if I was alive or dead.
I was at the top of the stairs and my heart was pounding so fast it felt kind of good. The type of heart pounding you get when you are doing something incredibly wrong, like stealing something from a shop. I must have been 11-years old and I could hear them arguing downstairs. I think my parents were in bed asleep. We didn’t have a spare bedroom and so my parent’s friends slept downstairs on the couch. He was shouting at her and hitting her. Every time I heard him hit her my heart started to boom even louder. It was so loud I was scared he would hear it. But I couldn’t move. I wanted to help her but I was scared he would beat me up. In the end I just listened as he beat her. I remember the next morning she was having a cup of tea and she had a huge black eye. Every one laughed and joked about how she had fallen, “clumsy woman,” and everyone agreed. Her husband was his usual funny affable self. I really liked him. He used to give me money, would hug me and tell me funny stories. I couldn’t understand how he could be so nice one minute and then batter the living shit out of this person the next. After all he loved her. I even heard him tell her just after I heard that strange squeal she made.
Photo courtesy of Cristiano Betta (CC @ flickr.com)