Circadian Fall

I sit at the table, order a scotch and light a smoke. The barman knows me, “don’t be calling me son again, mister! Whiskey is it?” The room half full. Deadbeats and alkys line the walls. They search for anything to wake them from their shitkicking existence. A sudden surge of pleasure is all that’s needed to make them forget. As for me? I’m only here to see her. My need is for her to recognise me, to remember how it was, before it all went separate.

The light fades while the curtain goes back. A tree stands centre stage caught in the spotlight. Drums beat, and she makes her way out in front of the crowd; naked as the first time I laid eyes on her. This nest of losers stare silently spellbound. The dance enchants and seduces them. They drool as she rolls herself around the tree, the snake slides down; it stares into her eyes.

“Looking for anybody in particular?” A huge black guy leans on the chair to my left, “Bubba Pimp, I know everything there is to know about the whoring business.” He nods towards a dark corner of the room where some scantly clad twenty something fakes a smile and strokes her crotch. I turn my attention back to the stage, “how much for her?”

Im going to tell you a story; before I forget. You see, a Man can live a whole day in a story, a lifetime, many lives, to make one story, and then forget. Climb out of bed to a history he can’t remember. Thrown into a day he neither foretold nor requested. And that’s how my story goes. How it plays out, each and every day…

A room. It seems familiar…but the girl? I don’t recall. Naked. Skin soft and warm, her breath light. She rolls away, lost in some dream. Instinctively I grab the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Each morning the same struggle. I wonder how I ended up here, managing this hotel – ‘Paradise City’. its beautiful gardens buried deep in some stinking concrete jungle. I smile at the passing guests. My skull thick with whiskey; constantly they bark requests as the mind’s eye shows me things I was never meant to know. Eventually the darkness lands. With a flash I’m gone, out the door, pulse racing with an urge to see her.

I trudge uptown brandishing the stick at the swarm of oncoming human traffic. The city bursts skywards. Giant advertising screens flash baseball stars and sportswear.

“Fucks your problem?” screams some fat cunt in linen pants and a fedora.

“I come in peace, son.”

“Ain’t your son shitbag, watch where ya walking next time. Fucking cripple!”

Without breaking stride or looking back I wonder at how many times Ive heard this and smile. The night air warm and sticky; taxi cabs blare horns, the smell of hotdogs drift from the street vendors. I push on.

La temptation’ Gentleman’s club and Bubba Pimp is in full pitch, a girl on each arm. The crowd of losers holla at the show, throwing twenty bucks a pop. The snakes tongue flicks at her snatch as she writhes on the stage.

“You couldn’t afford that one,” he says.

“Oh, I’ve paid for it.” I laugh, “many times over.”

The snake rises to attention then dips back down flicking its tongue across her nipple. The audience goes wild. My heartbeat reaches critical as fingers tighten round the stick. Urge turns to rage. I’m up and out of the chair stick held high. The reptile turns it head. It taunts me. I see my reflection in its eyes. Teeth grind, my chest thuds and I swing heavy. The branch from an ancient tree shatters its skull. The bums go psycho.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” pleads Eva “Why don’t you just leave us alone?”

“Axel, son of man, pleased to meet ya.”

“You’re not the son!”

“What ya talking about?”

“Don’t you remember? You didn’t want us.” She points at the snake, “you’re not the son… he is!”

The serpent disappears, a half-eaten apple takes its place.

A voice shouts across the room, “you’re not the fucking son!”

“Not the son, not the son, not the son…” Faces chant, charging towards me. Stale whiskey and body odour rise with the heat; a nightmare scenario.

“Bitch” I shout, raising the stick towards the oncoming human traffic.

“Not the son, not the son…”

Blows reign in. I’m on the floor. I feel the snake slide against my leg. It’s soft and warm. I hear my breath gently moving in and out. The taste of whiskey sour in my mouth. Instinctively I reach out, grabbing the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Guests at the hotel come and go, forever needing something. They are always asking for help. I tire of smiling at them and take a walk in the garden. My buckled legs ache and the damp shirt clings to my skin. It will be dark soon, almost dark enough to see her again. I sense an urge and it begins to rise…

“If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more ” ~ Jules Renard.

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude” ~ Henry J.M Nouwen.

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design” ~ Red hot chili peppers.

D&O in Fresno

Apocalypse Fresno (NOW)


A Short Story

“Just for today; a bit of the future”  

Sci-fi reframing over on Fresno!

Apocalypse Fresno (NOW)

You may ask yourself how I got caught up in a shit storm of this magnitude 5148 miles from home? Good question!
Better question – Which Bozo gave the order to break every Meth Lab in Fresno on the same night?
More importantly – Why in the name of insanity am I stepping out into the street??

It all started a long time ago when God created the Heavens and the Earth, and Hell followed! 

Fresno CA – 2040 AD

Less than 24 hours have passed since my flight from Louis Armstrong Airport. Its funny how quickly things escalate when the right amount of excrement hits the fan. Yesterday I sat on the banks of the Mississippi, today I march face forward into the Apocalypse. If you really want to know why I chose to trudge through this Hell state then maybe you should ask “What the actual fuck is going on”? 

By the way; this all happened…

In a slightly different way, somewhere in another time!!

Rising tension continued during our short trip. “Those fuckas” he screams, responding to the radio update. I sense his keenness to get the taxi off shift. I feel it too. It was the same leaving New Orleans. Passengers preparing to board flights stopped to stare at wall screens as they projected news channel footage into the departure lounge. The broadcast showed unrest. Reports claimed large scale police operations involving Federal Agents and Drug Enforcement Teams. Announcements alleged resistance, many shots fired, and casualties. But this was beginning to look like a whole different ball game. 

Im vaguely aware of my grip on the coin as it indents the palm of my hand. We’re above the main drag heading downtown from the airport. Dead streets – no traffic in sight! Gunfire brakes the City’s silence. With time that becomes familiar and so will many other things before this tale is told.

The driver half turns to me and bellows “What the fuck you doing here man? I mean we are nowhere”.

“It seems to me like you’re everywhere tonight my friend” I reply. “Now here” Flashes through my mind.

A sense of unease and discomfort worms its way towards a dark crevice deep in my soul. Im guessing the driver feels it too. If not, maybe he should. The noise of a Hoverbike rises from behind. It lifts up and quickly moves alongside. The bike cruises a moment and the rider locks horns. The passenger flashes a firearm, more a canon than a gun. “Motha Fucka” shouts my man at the wheel. Instinctively throwing the cab down and to the left knocking the bike sideways out of the sky. Theres no mistaking things now… this town is chaos. Law and order is on vacation.

While sat at the far end of Bourbon Street, alongside the Mississippi River, I began noticing strange vibes creeping in. My mind had projected bad luck at being one of the last ever passengers on a commercial flight. I sensed something. It disturbed me! Thoughts turned to Fresno. The town with a bad reputation. A populous of half a million citizens in the Meth Amphetamine Capital of the Planet. I’d been told its a tough place, but compared to what? I grew up on a diet of football violence and brutality during the miners strike, not to mention lunatics for friends. Whats that place got to show that I haven’t already seen? Another town another girl. Same old story! Nevertheless I felt a disturbance in the force before leaving New Orleans. Sat in this Hovertaxi playing Grand Theft Auto for real I begin to get a sense why. 

“I need to park this heap of junk bro; shit got real”.

“Yeah man, how far to go? Remember Im a stranger in this town and the locals don’t seem too friendly”.

“Almost there” he replies. “You still haven’t answered my question! What brings you to a dump like Fresno”?

Laughing I say “Heard it was an exciting party town on the rise”. 

Fear shoots across his face “Theres a fucking uprising going down tonight white boy! You made it just in time to party”.

As the sun dips to the horizon I see the shape of an electronic advertising board. Its lights are out. Hanging below, I recognise the silhouette of a human body.  

Stood paused in the doorway I survey the apartment. It looks spacious and uncluttered. The last trace of natural light filters through open curtains. All quiet, nobody around, just as expected! Turning to close the door I see a shadow flash across the lawn and movement in my side vision. With the door shut I bolt the deadlock and apply the chain. I step into the living room, drop my bag and collapse on the couch. Staring at the ceiling my eyes slowly acclimatise as darkness creeps into the room. Laying there lost in the breath, feeling my lungs expand and contract until finally grounded I decide to look around. I find my a light switch. Up and down it flicks. Nothing! My vision rests at the staircase and I decide to check out the upper floor. Viewing outside becomes priority. The bedroom looking out over the lawn is the obvious choice. I pull the drapes within a couple of inches, almost to the point of closing. Hunched down at the window ledge I can see the street and the road crossing the junction. Its empty, silent and dark. The street lights are out. A sense of doom washes over me. Quickly it retreats to a shudder. I experience an undercurrent only described as awareness. 

Suddenly an explosion lights up the sky. I make a guess it wasn’t the neighbourhood barbecue gone wrong. The disturbance is huge. Small arms fire sounding close by is quickly met with a loud thump. A terrific bang echoes throughout the darkness. The blast feels close. It has a deliberate edge to it. The tremor flowing through my arm becomes noticeable and the curtain shakes in my hand. I let go and step backwards. Moving into the centre of the room, a thought flashes across my mind- “What the hell is going on”? And then it starts; the voice, my voice but not my words! The Beast wakes! Half of me expected him. This is fucked up. Of all the Godforsaken times and places why now? Never once have I consciously made that fucker welcome. Ive learned the hard way that resistance means persistence. Now was a very fucking bad time indeed. I need to find my way around this house and see whats what. Just then, appearing out of nowhere, a Sky Cruiser hovers outside the window. A voice hails from its tannoy. “Put down your weapons or we will open fire”. The words have barely registered when the vehicle blows apart mid air. Flying debris shatters the bedroom window – flames burst into the room! The blast knocks me sideways into the wall. My face reflects red heat. I hear the Beast laugh and feel consciousness slipping away. Passing out as I recall the taxi driver shrieking “Good luck Motha Fucka”.

In the dream I see a coin. Silver and… 

With my back against the wall, collar pulled high and hat down low, I sit trembling. The room is full. The meeting started moments ago.

“Anybody want to announce any length of sobriety”?

Im thinking ‘not really’ but thats not How It Works. They know anyways so I’m thinking what the hell.

“I got 24 hours… again!” 

The room bursts into applause but I don’t see the need to make a big deal of it. I fucked up, but guess I’m lucky to have made it back. It feels torturous. I almost convulse. Nervous energy pulsates through my bones.

A friend comes forward and shakes my hand. He plants a silver coin in my open palm.

Struggling to stay still I remain seated for the hour. Eventually the meeting ends.

As I start to leave I’m approached by somebody who knows me well enough…

“What happened Man”?

“I don’t know, looks like I took my eye of the ball, something like that”.

He frowns “Bullshit and you know it! Relapse starts weeks before the drink. Even the planning and preparation stage kicks in with days to spare”.

I feel on the spot “Hard to say, things got difficult. I knew it was coming for a while but felt powerless to stop it. You know how it goes”.

He pushes a cigarette my way “Yeah it sucks but you can come back from this. Stick around buddy you’re one of the good guys”.

We shake hands and I head back to the cruiser. Everything he said makes perfect sense. But my mind is heading in a different direction and trying to pull me with it. How can ya be honest when you’re still surveying the damage? I know one thing for sure, it was an experience I don’t want to repeat again. 

It all started with a minor confrontation. Some people seem to have a natural talent for pissing me off. My aptitude for polishing resentment outgrows the other guys efforts very quickly. Increasing a dislike to the level of blind hatred is my super power. I took it to another level within a week. Fear always shows up for the fun and games. That subtle little pest rapidly turned into a snarling monster. My mind projected impossible outcomes into a dead cert in record time. All of this I kept to myself. Lets face it I’m good at hiding shit. 

Then the Beast began to whisper. I tried the old fashioned Jedi mind trick hoping this Clusterfuck would disappear. As for prayer and meditation, who cares to enlist the help of a Higher Power when you’re in the middle of some self serving battle zone. Only somebody with a decent grip on sanity, thats who! Thinking I know better! Well how did that work out…

Leaving the apartment early that morning my eyes focused on an empty beer can. Just sitting there in the gutter, cast side, it meant no harm. But the Beast did. That intrusive voice, impersonating my own, whispering sweet nothings of self harm and personal destruction. That fuck face certainly meant plenty harm and brought a shit load. I was quickly tuned in at full volume listening with intent. Gripped in a vice like dream state I found myself re-entering the flat fully charged up with enough juice to guarantee oblivion. All varieties of my choosing from hard liquor to dry cider plus enough cigarettes to bring about an embolism.

The days turned into weeks. Vaguely I recall phoning in sick at work. Sordid bars and  street fights flashed through my memory. A fleeting recollection of been in a house with some woman and no idea how I ended up there. As for how long I stuck around? It beats me!
I came out of a blackout screaming, hoping it was a nightmare, unsure if I’d lived it or dreamt it. I was sitting in my own piss so that put paid to that query. The cruiser was laying on its side in the alleyway. Local kids had covered it in graffiti. I was a mess!

 I got 24 hours… again! I feel the coin in my pocket. Im holding on to this one, nothing to add or take away. Anything and everything, no matter how difficult it gets, this one stays! 24 hours to thine own self be true. Just for today. Every fucking day!


Sat aboard the Mayflower Torpedo as it hurtles across the Atlantic just above the sea bed and Im thinking “What an incredible feet of shipbuilding and engineering”. I feel privileged to be on board so soon after her maiden voyage and aim to explore from Steerage to Captains table. Nuclear powered engines firing her across the pond in under two hours and the feeling of motionlessness is sublime. Never since the Titanic’s fateful journey had a launch attracted so much attention. I guess they were expecting a similar outcome. You never can tell with these things. However, that never stopped the rich and shameless spending a small countries deficit on a first crossing boarding pass. This is her third trip today. I almost taste the Florida sunshine as I strut my stuff through the Casino and Bar, rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of high society. All expenses paid. My Job is to visit with political and non profit community leaders working on solutions to the smog. International air travel, banned now for almost 2 years, internal flights wrapping up, except for the police and military, sky flight will soon belong to the past. Big money has been invested in Nuclear Monorail to catapult large numbers coast to coast. Cruisers have replaced the good old automobile. Their magnetic downdraft finally waved goodbye to stinking diesel along with oil’s lust for war. Still the smog increases.

This is definitely the way forward. Welcome to the future and God bless all who sail in her. A smile broad and… Boom!!! The Subs rear end overturns as Im thrown at speed over the backgammon tables. My last thoughts before certain death are “collision, disaster – Im fucked!”  Shrieking sirens cut through the darkness and a voice from a loud hailer repeats over and over… “This is the voice of the City of Fresno Police Department. Armed Police are patrolling the streets. Rioters and looters will be shot on sight. The City is under curfew please remain indoors till further notice. This is the City of Fresno…”

Woke by the voice of a drone issuing its stark warning as it heads off into the night. I recon dawn prepares to break. Lying there stunned and disorientated I wait for the Sun to put his hat on and smile down on this madness.

In the daylight I search the house. Electricity is still cut and the TV is dead. I rummage through my bag and check my tablet. It suggests no internet connections are available. It seems the web is also under curfew. Theres food in the fridge left by the host. I see a note on the kitchen table “Welcome to Fresno make yourself at home we hope you have pleasant stay. Call if any problems”. I fucking would if the phones worked. Finding a door to the basement I shake the lock loose and head down the stairs.

Its a Jumble Sale; mountains of shit! I spend the next few hours rummaging through it. I mean what else is there to do – take a walk in the park on a day like this? Its almost 100 degrees and a battle zone outside. I find a sandalwood box. A handgun inside almost antique, looks like something from a turn of the century action movie. What was that dude called? Schwarzenegger I think! A box of ammo, enough to fill the clip, without guarantee to fire, sits alongside the piece. A baseball bat and skateboard pads are amongst the bounty. It turns out to be more like a treasure trove than a trash dump. 

Then the voice. It sounds like me but uses phrases I wouldn’t choose to think. It chatters negatively away… “Imagine if we found whiskey here? A psychotic party for one while this goon show burns itself out. What could be better”? I feel sick. “If not, then we could always branch out to the liquor store. Maybe a little break & enter, how difficult could that be? Like who’s gonna notice? Common it’ll be fun”.
I now know I’m in a much worse situation than whatever the fuck is going on in this desert oasis! I need help and its not available here at the Fresno Funshack. I hear a scream from above. It sounds like outside. I reach into my pocket and take out the coin. Ive got to get out.


The sun burns my eyes as I step out through the door. Blinking hard I raise a hand to shade my sight. I notice the shake. Still holding the coin, I immediately pocket it, feeling the stock of the pistol buried in my waistband. Automatically I scan the street, theres no sign of the screamer. One foot goes in front of the other without a plan. I have to find someone or something. A city war zone lies ahead, but to what level? Anybody’s guess! One thing for sure is I need help. It wont just show up with a knock at the door. I need to take action.

Experience has taught me some painful lessons. Its not all about the drinking. Initially I thought so. Eventually it dawned on me its about the Beast. That other side of me, the one that wants to fuck me up! The snake and the apple. Obsession. An obsession so subtle and so powerful, it sneaks up, usually at five to midnight at 3000 leagues below with nowhere to go. Left to its own devices, a crescendo of barbaric torture leaves me powerless to resist. Just one drink! When the fuck did I ever have just one drink? Once fish takes the bait, trap is sprung, the mayhem merry-go round spins faster and faster. Only one destination. I must stay ahead of it and acknowledge the primed timer ready to blow. This Beast of obsession awake inside scares the shit out of me!

TurnLeftAt the junction I decide to take a left. No other reason than to the right stretches out to the distance an endless road. Thoughtless steps lead me down a street lined with wire fenced houses. I hear a blast echo nearby. I find cover behind a parked cruiser. Between two houses runs a woman. Her blouse is torn. She looks stricken with panic. Some guy wearing jeans, t-shirt and a red baseball cap appears in slow pursuit. He carries a bottle in one hand and a laser blaster in the other! Hunched down behind the vehicle I can see the pistol charger flash its low battery warning. I hear myself think “Tackle the bastard now before its charged. Get that whiskey”. Quickly I shake my head searching for some sanity but I know thats temporary. Somethings got to give! 

I had took my eye off the girl long enough to watch the whiskey. Big mistake. It didn’t take more than a second or two for her to spot me. She makes a dash in my direction. Fuck! Think quick! Whatever’s pissing him off is none of my business. 

The blast strikes the cruiser melting its front wing. A miss but close enough. He had saw what she saw and took the shot. Watching him stumbling in my direction I can’t help but think that this fella may, on a different day, be quite handy with that thing. He’s obviously steaming, still that shot was way too close for comfort. I’m involved whether I like it or not. One of us must yield. This won’t be painless! 

He takes a moment to steady himself. Our eyes lock and he takes aim. My heart pounds and my feet are frozen in time. He squeezes the trigger. Nothing! Checking the charge display he is rooted to the spot. I get my chance. Forgetting the old fashioned blunder buster in my waistband I burst out of the blocks full speed straight at him. He’s too drunk to step aside as I launch a tackle. We crash down together landing hard on the tarmac. Wrestling for a better hold this piece of shit is stronger than I estimated. The palm of his hand is up under my chin and digs into my throat. With a gust of force I send him spinning. He manages to clamp his legs around my lower back. I hear the bottle bounce on the ground and the Beast whispers again. Frenzied as I rain blows into his face I feel hands grip my collar. Unexpectedly I’m propelled up and over, somersaulting, landing heavily on my back. Momentarily I’m dazed and he’s up staring down at me over the barrel. He smiles. Tiny veins, crimson in colour, streak the whites of his eyes. The battery gives up a high pitched noise… ready to fire! Laughter cut short as the sabreblade burns through his chest. First surprise then horror shoots across his face. He slips forward and lands face down. 

Releasing the igniter button the flame evaporates and she pockets the knife. We face each other and look down at the body. “Say hi to Earl.” Her voice trails off to a nervous laugh. 

“Im Hennessy Griffith, friends call me Griff”. She reaches out a hand. I shake it.

“Deano, pleased to meet you”.

She looks pretty, even with the psycho stare. The torn blouse reveals a packed tight cleavage barely hidden under a vest. Adidas sneakers standing her up in tight faded jeans. They sit well on her. Shoulder length blonde hair, mild complexion, I’m guessing mid 30’s.

“You not from these parts then”?

“Clues in the accent” I reply.

“Howe come”?

“Long story. What happens next is what I want to know”  

“Where you heading?” She takes a quick look side to side.

“Dunno”. I replay her scan of the area. “I thought it best to take a chance on the street. I need to find someone”.

“Who”? A puzzled look crosses her face.

“Again its hard to say”.

“You’re taking a big risk mister! You don’t know where your going and not sure who you’re looking for. Appears you don’t know shit! You got any idea what the fucks going on here”?

“I’m a little sketchy why don’t you fill in the gaps”? She picks up on the sarcasm and I notice a shift in her expression.

“Ok Dorothy or whatever the fuck your name is you’re a long way from Kansas so I will bring you up to speed on the state of play. You’re standing in a minefield and I just saved your ass from certain death. My ex husband had you licked good and proper”. She looks down at Earl.

“Listen lady” I interrupt. “It didn’t look like you were doing too well either till you blew my cover. If thats how you guys treat each other then I’m not surprised the marriage didn’t last”.

“Yeah well hell, sorry about that! He always was a rattlesnake. I knew it was a mistake showing up at his place. It wasn’t my first choice but his place was nearest after running into that sniper”. 

“Sniper, what sniper”? 

“I couldn’t say. A blast shot through the air and some lone wolf took the hit. I didn’t wait around for an introduction”. She gives the scenery another quick glance. “Guess it was the police, taking the other guy out first, since he was armed and all. It sure felt like I was next. Made a break and took off, hurtled over a fence then realised I was just a block from the house we had shared. So I headed on over to his place, should have known he’d be drunk. And now here we are, all three of us”.

“So how come you’re wandering alone through all this”? I study her face.

“My place got swamped. I was holed up just waiting for some normality to return to this town. Then it started to resemble an invasion. Police sky cruisers attacked. Search and destroy squads on the street moving house to house. The dealers fought back. Turns out there was a hive of them and they were packing some military style hardware. I had a close call. Felt the blast almost part my locks. I made it onto the street just before the house took a direct hit. Something heavy duty by all intents and purpose, it went up with a bang, only recently lost sight of the smoke. You not hear any of this”?

“I was sleeping” The sarcasm returned.

“Listen wise guy I aint got time for your shit! You have any useful qualities or shall we just part company here and now”?

“I’ve got a place nearby but I need something in return”.

 A smirk passes over her face as she looks me up and down. “We only just met sugar, but shit, if you’re the last man on the block”. 

“Not that! I need your help to find something. A meeting”.

“What kinda meeting”?

“12 Step”.

“What!” Her voice takes on a high tone. “Why didn’t you just say so instead of standing here cutting the shit? I’m heading to my brothers place. Under different circumstances it wouldn’t take long even on foot. It could be risky right now incase you hadn’t noticed. Hows about we hide out at this place of yours? We can move on after the light fades”.

“What good will that do”? I start to feel impatient.

“He’s friends with one of them 12 Step fellas. Dude often drops by after one of those meetings you so keen to get to. I believe its in the neighbourhood”. She waits for a response. None comes. “Why the big deal anyway? sounds a fucked up priority to me”.

“Another long story”. I look at the whiskey bottle, just sitting there, not meaning any harm to anyone.

“We got about 7 hours till sundown. I hope its interesting”. She walks away from Earl, heading back the way I’d came . “Wheres this place you been telling me about”?


Sat at the kitchen table she fires off questions I don’t mind answering. That and talking about Earl, how they met and the way it started off like most relationships do. There’d been some happiness. Earl been the considerate lover, before the farm had to let him go. Laid off he turned to drink. She let that slide for a while hoping things would turn a corner. But with every dead end job came more bitterness. HennessyCoffeeShe took the beatings and hid the bruises. Finding him with the neighbours daughter was the final straw. Little more than a child, sweet sixteen, she looked every inch the woman as Griff walked in on them. I listened intently joining in only where it seamed appropriate. I caught her looking at me in a way I recognised; curious about what was going through my mind as I tripped out listening to the Beast. Obsession chattered away reminding me of the whiskey bottle sat next to Earl. Patiently awaiting my return. Could I just leave it there? I might share it with her at this table. Then who knows? Maybe spark up some passion. Or I could end up like Earl! Sobering thought.

I interrupt as she starts on about her sister “Exactly how far is it to your brothers place”?

“Maybe three miles give or take a yard”.

“So what we looking at – an hour on foot”?

For a moment she just stares “We cant just ramble over there like a Sunday stroll. Its a war zone out there! You forgot about the heavily armed meth heads? What about that sniper”? She pauses expecting a response. I cant think of one. 

The Beast starts to whistle and I find myself saying “So apart from slaying ex husbands and dodging snipers, what does a nice girl like you do in a place like this”?

“School teacher, nursery kids, 4-6 year olds. They call me Miss Griff”. 

“Ok miss Griff, Im going to need you to teach me a lesson. Geography! What we looking at between here and your good brothers humble abode”?

“Oh it gets interesting”. I see a flash of dread cross her face.

“After we cut through a few rows of suburbs things thin out a bit”.
 Picking up the drama in her tone. “What does that mean”?

“You’ll see soon enough! The lights beginning to fade. Maybe we should make a move”.

The Beast shows me the whiskey bottle. Shaken by the flashback I walk over to the  baseball bat. I pick it up and look back at her. “Im ready lets go”. 

Any Lengths 

Griff was right. No description would do it justice. I imagined better. A sign said Jefferson! I suppose the place was named after a long dead President. Its in desperate need of some TLC. Either that or a bulldozer. Rundown is an understatement. This neighbourhood could pass for a war zone in peacetime. Total fucking shambles!

A howl cries out in the night! Sounds like a wolf, probably the local lunatic. I hope its a one man show! We crouch down low taking turns to dash between burnt out cruisers. I sense we’re been watched and feel unease creep over my skin. Quickly my eyes scan upfront. An old school block sits in the foreground its walls awash with graffiti. Darkness oozes through broken windows. UnderFenceBehind the school lies an underpass lit with burning oil drums. A scene from a not too distant past looking slightly out of place. A drum beat breaks the silence! That howl again and this time close behind. I see shadows! The tunnel is alive with marching silhouettes. At first I see only human form but quickly notice something more. Dogs straining at the leash! I can see the outline of their snarling teeth. 

“Griff we need to move and quick”. I see fear in her eyes as she looks back at me.

Bolting forward towards the school fence she swiftly crawls under loose footing. Hot on her tail I roll underneath the wire as a blast hits the fence pole to my right. It ruptures a slot two foot wide and I feel the heat as metal catches fire. I’m up and off the mark instantaneously! Seeing Hennessy dash through an open doorway I make up the ground quick time.

Hunched down waiting, a look of alarm on her face! 

“What the fuck was that”? I scream at her.

 I almost feel the drool on the back of my neck as she leaps up and at me. 

“Dog!” She screams plunging the sabre between its monstrous eyes. Heat from the blade scrapes my cheek. What looks half dog half wolf snarls. It writhes on the floor as Griff leans heavily over the knife.
“Action… take it fucker!”

I put everything into the swing as the bat comes down hard on the animals neck. Twice for luck! Lying still and silent the dogs tongue flops alongside massive teeth. We glance at each other. That howl again. Getting closer. We head down a corridor marching as fast as the darkness will allow, growing more confident every step, underfoot seaming clear as we pick up the pace. Straight ahead I can see light finding its way in.

It looks like somebody made a half arsed attempt to board up a gaping hole in the wall. A couple of planks lie on the floor. Griff starts to yank one from the window. Gunmetal prods my temple. I freeze to the spot!

A scruffy looking man charges past me and grabs my companion by the scalp! He pulls her backwards onto her knees.
“Wurdup”. Off to the side – a latino, six foot, heavily tattooed face.Laphroag2

 

“Allow me to introduce you to my brethren. The gentlemen with the Pistola at your skull. “Names Jonny Walker” Whisper in my ear. 

“And this here brother with your lady friend is Tequila.” The latino points at a short, fat looking Mexican. Fatso waves with one hand, gripping Hennessy’s hair with the other. 

“Let me guess, you guys are responsible for cleaning the windows in this institution.” I reply before feeling a sudden blow to the kidneys. The baseball bat clatters on the bottom, the ground sounds like rock! All fight leaves me!! 

Tattooed face reaches his arm back pointing to the gang gathered behind “As for these beauties here, they are the Demons”.

His fist swings forward – “And my name is Laphroaig”. 

I feel my jaw shatter as the lights go out.

I’m dreaming, I think! 

Somehow it feels real enough! 

I’m walking along an isle in the liquor store. In front on the counter sits a bottle of Hennessy Brandy. Alongside it a pint of Jonny Walker and a fifth of an Irish Single Malt by the name of Laphroaig. LiquorStore

Griff smiles “Not today Deano… you have an important appointment that must be met”.

“Who let the school teacher in? Its no place for kids” I sulk!

She turns to walk away and I follow her out the back of the store. The dull overhead lights are replaced by a flash as she pushes a bar and the exit door swings open.

“Where we going”? I ask.

“You’ll see”. 

The underpass looms straight ahead. The old oil drums still burn. More faintly now giving off a gentle glow. The dogs sit. From behind I can see their tails wag. They appear alert and interested. But in what? As we get closer I see an old man. Heavily tanned face with deep wrinkles, he looks aged. Decked out in double denim and a baseball cap he sits on the floor. He’s talking to the dogs. They appear fascinated and totally unaware of our approach. 

“Griff, Deano, come on over, we just chilling”.

How does he now our names? 

And at the same time Im sure I’ve seen this old fella somewhere before.

“Do I know you”?

“Sure do! And how you keeping Miss Hennessy”?

“Im good” she purrs. I never realised how beautiful she is till now.

“Deeeenoe! How come you showed up here my man? In this time, this Now”.

“I don’t get the question. And who are you, how come you know my name, we met before”?

“Many times son” he reaches out to pat the dog closest then sharply claps his hands. Flames burst high from the barrels. The dogs are up and begin to chase their tales. 

The old man rises to his feet.

“What the fuck is going on here”? I feel panic in my voice!

“Take a look son, you’re a long way from home”.

“Go ahead Deano”. She gazes at the fire.
Walking towards the flame I get the feeling I’m been guided in… 

A horse. It rears up. The rider slumps forward, its a policeman. His bloodied face buried into the animals mane. The brick lands inches from my feet as Im carried along with the rush. Punching out and kicking anything that falls. I give not two fucks for sides in this skirmish. Its early 80’s and hot as hate! Theres nothing but violence in my veins. A television screen flickers. Its shows Goals on Sunday as I come out of blackout. 3 days lost. Whiskey and Guinness. A dark room and the thoughts are intrusive. I scream in my head, the Beast laughs just that bit louder. My mind poised to snap! Shaking and crying in the shower. Broken promises and strongbow cider. Dallas and Bloody Marys with a twenty dollar cleavage. Canadian girl by the stroke of midnight, New Years Eve sex in a Manhattan nightclub toilet. Puerto Ricans pushing and shoving, coiled and ready to ram a glass. Leprechaun hats IRA bar. Blood streaked elevator wall. One leg over the side while surfing the Bay of Bisque through the night, bouncing across the sea on a flat bottomed landing ship with half cans of Heineken! Little Ian with the ball. Running. Laughing. Not so little Ian. Bald. Dying. Bouncer and a broken ashtray. Bouncer with a broken face. Cigarette burned hands and pass the parcel. Sniffing glue and sick relationships. Broken homes and tornadoes. Liver damage and Neuropathy.  Smoking Heroin and breathing Temgezic. Prison walls. Magaluf dance floors. Ecstasy in a teaspoon. Fear, Resentment… Forgiveness! 

“Whats this about Old Man”? Speaking to myself. “This all happened years ago. In another place another time”.

“The time is Now. It is always Now”. The Old Man’s voice appears deep down inside myself.“Lots of personalities mixed up in there” – merely a whisper.

“Really fucking mixed up if you ask me”. I bite.

“What about the role I assign”?

“I work this programme. Growing in understanding and effectiveness” – I snap out!

“What is the point”? – Questioning!

“The point is we are…” – Cut short.

“The ego, it can even use spirituality against you! Manifesting self into Bigshotism! Cunning, baffling powerful” His face appears in the flames.

“But there is One who has All Power and its not me!” I start to laugh. 

He smiles.

“I can never be humble enough, forgiving enough, courageous enough. But that resentment, fear, self-centred shit, I can do that to full volume”.

“Progress not perfection” His turn to laugh. “Step into the flame. It will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not”.

StepFlames

I look back at Griff. She’s gone. So have the dogs. The tunnel is darkness!

“Take the first Step” I hear Him say.

Eyes closed one foot slowly moves forward then the other one. I expect to touch something, hit something… nothing! 

I open my eyes and see a door. A sign hangs from the handle. I walk in. Somebody is reading aloud. Stops. They all turn to look at me. Somebody points to an empty seat and I sit down. The reader carries on… “If you want what we have and are ready to go to any lengths to get it then you are ready to take certain Steps. At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier softer way but we could not. With all the earnestness at our command we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start”.


“You Only loose what you cling to” – Buddhist Proverb.

“Wherever you are, be there totally” – Eckhart Tolle.

“Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations” – Chapter 5.

D&O in Fresno

The 4th Step Flamenco

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple programme, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of been honest with themselves”.

 

The first thing apparent was something wasn’t quite right. I had no idea what and even less of an idea how I knew. But I knew. Of that I was certain. Simply put – my insides didn’t match others’ outsides! But no way was I going to say that out loud. Who would? Even though I had the love of some beautiful people, I knew from the word go I was dancing this one alone!
Looking back there was a few who could see and one or two who tried to raise the issue but that door was firmly closed. Besides all this I quickly found a solution and it was to accompany me every step of the way across four different decades. The journey with the illusion had begun 

Flamenco;
Noun- a style of dancing (solo) that is strongly rhythmic and involves vigorous action (including clapping of the hands).

 

Humans in general have nothing more than a nodding acquaintance with self-honesty. Everybody is quick to point out the other mans faults and almost blind to recognise them in themselves. The funny thing is, we don’t need to see them to be aware, we just need to listen. My problem is no different to anybody else’s. Its not that I chose to look the other way it was more a case of “soak in the praise and reject the appraisal”. Basically I surrounded myself with people, good or bad, who through no fault of their own, co-signed my bullshit. The delusion was in full swing and the masks fitted comfortably… for a while. Drink, drugs, violence, disastrous relationships, all from an early age had me believing I was some Romeo in a porno show. But whatever it was that was apparent first thing just kept clapping louder and louder until enough of the self imposed crisis routine embarked me on a journey into honesty…  

Education and information are wonderful things. Personally I love them and happily endorse them but on their own they are a fucking horror show. Since the invent of Google and social media everybody is an expert and a world leader in their chosen field of the day. Just so happens that since the internet made an appearance the insanity level powered up a few notches. Our planet is now the mental institution of the Universe and all sides think the other side is to blame. Infants in charge of an ego – dangerous game!
Thats where my issue with others has to end. Quickly I recall it all started long before any digital mindfuck and even if the Matrix really is a public information film instead of an action movie what good is that going to do me. The Flamenco is a solo dance but never danced alone, it requires vigorous action. There is action and more action… 

Throughout all the chaos, peppered with high octane excitements and soul crushing lows, the dice landed favourably enough often enough to warp my perspective. Education, information and greater efforts all mean jack shit without an awareness. What is awareness other than honesty in action. Am I honest enough to see my resentments are not the responsibility of somebody else’s efforts or can I see that Im a resentful fucker regardless. It matters not who’s name is on the list, it could be Micky Mouse, when it asks ‘Who is resentful?’ Its always my name in that column. Its the same with fears. It looks like the world and his wife have all got some form of anxiety disorder they are popping pills for. But honestly when I ask myself why I have them isn’t it because self reliance reminds me Im applying for Gods job but Im not qualified to sit in the interview. What about conduct? Does selfish self-centredness explain it with any justice? All I know is when it came to sex, money, prestige, there was never enough for me.

Whats the common denominator in all this? Me? You? Us?

“The first thing apparent was this world and its people were often quite wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore. Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves”.

The first thing apparent was something wasn’t quite right. What was wrong? I thought I could and would dance this one alone. But we are never alone. There is no me, there is no you, there is only us. Talking of honesty, there are some people that I will never like, some that I tolerate through gritted teeth. But it doesn’t matter. They are as much a part of the ‘Us  equation as anybody else. None of us qualify for the interview. The same life force, the rhythm, that flows freely through me flows through you flows through us. Separation is the illusion.

We don’t mature through age, we mature in awareness~ Byron Katie

“The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there” ~ Yasutani Roshi

“Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me” ~ The Carpenter 

D&O in Fresno

Darkness and the Ragamuffin

“Fear – it was an evil and corroding thread, the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It brought about trains of circumstances we felt we didn’t deserve but did not we ourselves set the ball rolling…“

Recently I was invited to give a talk on anxiety. I had been asked to do so by a group of people who had identified themselves as suffering from it and were becoming aware of the negative and destructive impact it was having on their lives. Speaking on topics of that type will always fall on deaf ears unless you can share some experience of your own. It helps the listener tune in rather than mugging you off as just another bozo on the bus. Gaining some identification from the small crowd wasn’t what started this prose. That bit went well. Short and sweet that it was it was still a fucking horror story. People gripped by fear love horror, it alerts them to the fact they’re not quite as bad as they first thought… not yet!

It was more my identification with them as the conversation moved to a solution. Thats what got me scripting this. That look of trepidation, the doubt and disbelief that normally precedes the search for an easier softer way. In an instant I could almost taste the warm nighttime air of the desert as it gripped me, lost in that surreal Californian city as I headed off in search of an easier softer way looking very disheveled – like the Ragamuffin Man. 

Fear has a hundred forms. Anxiety is one of them. Its at the bottom of the list just above worry and sitting precariously below panic and its big brother terror. All fears are born out of the overpowering desire to control imaginary outcomes. Sweeping away the wreckage of the future. An interesting proposition until you give it some thought. Like a drug it would be thrilling and empowering for a short time and then life would become mechanical and boring. Most fun is in the hunt with its surprise twists and turns. A sense of power arises from overcoming challenges when the odds were against us.

No amount of worry or anxiety can alter whatever is going to happen. I had to learn to alter my attitude regarding the need to control. I know this to be true as experience has taught me this. But some things slip through. Some things are just too damn important. Thats the way it had been for months leading up to Fresno. I had felt the darkness begin to rise up in me with a whisper that got louder and louder. Until with nowhere to go but to face myself it began to scream. I had to change my attitude, alter the sails, learn to trust if I was going to recover from the wreckage. Trust means nothing without faith. Trust is a belief that tomorrow will be ok. Faith shows thats possible because so was all our yesterdays. Ok is a very long way from perfect. Some yesterdays were pretty shitty, but we survived them. I have survived everyday of my life so far even the good ones. Faith tells me that will remain the same for everyday but one. Im not planning on caring too much when that day shows up.

Since I got sober many things have happened that I’m unable to explain. The situation leading up to that, and many other experiences I can’t find the words for. Whatever it is I continue to seek the experience. The hunt with its surprise twists and turns that make life really interesting is always accompanied every Step of the way by that old darkness. Its whispers get louder and louder, little by slowly, trying to grip me and send me off looking for an easier softer way. Until theres nowhere to go but face myself. I follow the process to that regularly and something new always comes up. When I say new I mean new angles. Its the same shit with all of us. Just different people, places and things.

In the midst of all this the story of Job (Jobe) sort of showed up without an explanation. I knew nothing of it and don’t suppose most people do. Its an interesting one. Briefly, he had been a righteous and good man all his life and the devil didn’t care too much for that (I guess I’m safe there). Ole Nick decided to see if he could break him and reigned down all sorts of naughty shit in Jobs direction. Cut a long story short Job held firm. But it was with his attitude to his friends’s negativity that ties in with what I’m getting at. They turned up at his wilderness apartment wanting to analyse, deconstruct, blame and find the faults that had lead to his recent misfortune. Job been as seriously pissed off as he so rightly was still had enough about him to realise he was still in the game and no amount of fear created by overthinking the future was going to change anything. Sounds like it was touch and go for a while but he made it in the end. Trust is nothing without faith. Faith without works is dead, there is action and more action. The things that bother me and sneak in to steal peace of mind won’t magically fix themselves. I’ve still got to show up for life, but keeping things right sized as they are in the here and now makes sense. Whats the alternative? Arrive in a different time zone with a brush and shovel making sure everything is neat and tidy for when I eventually land there for real? Insanity! Yet the world over people are attempting to do just that. Along with searching for some easier softer way to escape the intense psychotic pain they experience through doing so. Good luck with that.

“When life takes the wind out of your sails, it is to test you at the oars.” – Robert Brault

“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity and do not let expectations hinder my path.” – Dalai Lama X1V

“Life is like improvised jazz. We cannot regulate the variables. We must play it with panache and flair the best we can.” – Haemin Sunim

D&O in Fresno

No Mas

Surrender is so alien to my nature – in all the things I do!

November 25, 1980 Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The fight for the WBC Welterweight Championship of the World was at round 8. It was between the Champion Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. It was their second meeting. Duran had won the first.
At the end of the round a dejected Duran held out a gloved hand, he uttered the eternal words ‘No Mas!’ and quit. In doing so he broke the contract he signed not on paper but in his own blood the moment he first put on a pair of boxing gloves and climbed into the ring, little more than a child, a street urchin in his home town, a desperately poor area of Panama. A town called El Chorrillo. The contract vowed he would fight till the final bell or die before.
Leonard looked good through the early rounds but something was wrong with Duran and Sugar Ray knew it from the start. How hard is it for a great fighter to look good when he realises his opponent is there only in presence? Whatever it was nobody can be sure. Hands of Stone refused to speak of that night for many years and has remained guarded on the subject since. For all intents and purposes one of the Greatest fighters in the history of the fight game died that night.
Roberto was burned out, washed up and finished from the moment those words left his mouth. He was in disgrace, disowned by those who had flocked to him and he disappeared to lick his wounds. It was 1980 and this signalled the end of the brilliant fighting career of a Legend. Or did it…???

Only by complete defeat can the Spirit awaken to that which is Greater than itself!

There is something about the way I’m wired up that demands I go on to the bitter end. Either that or I don’t attempt it in the first place. That’s how it was in my drinking, with drugs, in any argument or violent situation and still today it can be that way with thoughts. I can see how at times my compulsive obsessive thinking can drive me insane. But I will still battle on trying to think my way out of the situation. A sick mind trying to cure a sick mind. Attempting to solve the problem with the problem. If there’s one thing I have learned above all else these last 5 years is sometimes you just have to say “Fuck this!”
Obviously there’s more to life and the solving of everyday problems than screaming colourful language and walking off. However… repeatedly making the same mistakes, wrestling with difficulties that have brought us to our knees on previous occasions, attacking them with new found vigour only to end up laid clean out once again is Einstein’s definition of insanity. Who am I to argue with the great man himself? Therefore by definition I am guilty of been insane on many an occasion!
All of this stems from trying to control outcomes that I have no control over. All set in motion by fear. Projecting myself into the future, whether that be 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week from now etc. Anytime but NOW! As it turns out Now is the only time that I have any control over. It’s good to make plans and be organised – I insist on it! That’s a world of difference from plotting and scheming trying to predict an outcome favourable to myself. Brought about because I’m deeply uncomfortable about a possible alternative outcome… Possible – it very rarely works out that way. The mind likes to have fun like that, it can be a bully!
So why insist on hitting an emotional rock bottom every time this shit resurfaces? Why persist with the illusion after all the research has been gathered? Why would things turn out differently when they didn’t last time or the time before, or before that etc?
The real danger comes from the fact that we are victims of an extremely powerful delusion! So many times things happen in a positive sense that we let our efforts take the credit for. That’s not to say there isn’t times when our actions are responsible for things working out just the way we like them. The delusion is our inability to evaluate accurately how much of it was down to us or was it partly due to the help of others? Sometimes just the fact that we got plain fucking lucky seems to escape our attention. So when luck deserts us, help just doesn’t seem to be cutting it and our best efforts offer no quick fix then we are left with only one solution… Panic!!! Because the ego refuses to believe it is beatable. The alternative is unthinkable! This is a delusion and one I can only smash after pushing things to the limit once again. No matter how many times I’ve been in the ring with it before.
Maybe there is a better way… I think so!
Trust & Faith. Small words that have massive meanings. So how do I describe them? Easy…
Faith is a belief. When at the circus you are watching a tightrope walker push a wheelbarrow along the tightrope high above the ground. You know a fall would kill him. But somehow you just know that isn’t going to happen. Your pretty certain he has done it plenty times before so it’s no surprise when he makes it safely to the other side.
Trust is getting in that wheelbarrow while he pushes it along the tightrope!
Scary stuff…
But when there was just the tightrope walker you were certain he would make it. You believed it was safe. You had faith in his ability and confidence. Trust is a completely different animal. Trust has to be earned!
Trust is earned in hindsight. Using hindsight I can see that I have survived every day of my life so far. Even the difficult ones, the ones I so desperately tried to control, even though things seemed to be slipping out of my reach. Things that were never in my reach to start with. Then when I finally let go after the burning coal just became too hot to cling to. When repeating over and over the same shit and it had caused enough suffering. Then I could surrender to what is. To Reality. Then and only then did I open myself to receive things that were so much better than those of my little plans and designs, the very things that had been driving me nuts. The delusion! Finally I would be free from it again… Till next time!
Or who knows…

As for Duran, a bumpy road comeback really started to take off June 16th 1983 when he gave Davey Moore a horrific beating in Maddison Square Garden for the WBA Middleweight Championship of the World. The crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’ as Duran was hoisted onto shoulders in the ring. A legend was reborn!
He retired in 2001 at 50 years old as a five time world champion at four different weights.

The ego likes to tell me that maybe like Duran there’s always room for another Title!
Hopefully not this time, NO Mas.

“Surrender and let the Universe catch you” ~ Unknown.

“Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” ~ Step 2

“The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success” ~ Yogananda.

 

D&O in Fresno

Journey of a Single Step

(fear of failure)

When this topic first came out (from Drunkless.com) it got me thinking (Dangerous Pastime). I tried to recall moments where I could highlight the fear of failure. I quickly gave up when I remembered I suffer from an ISM (Insanely Short Memory). The book says there are a hundred forms of fear and I can identify with that. But when fear is on me its not always easy to label its cause. Then my mind quickly thew and idea at me. The opposite of fear in whatever form is Faith and the Seventh Step started to dominate my thoughts on where I’m going with this.

Lets forget about the addictive substance / behaviour for a moment and focus on the one problem we all share… Life! Its unmanageable by me. My everyday fear of failure is one I have of just not been able to show up for it. To loose the will to participate in the game, to retreat back into myself and my thinking. To disconnect and isolate!

Every morning I awake to the dis-ease whispering or screaming at me “Todays the day, why bother, why is this pain still in my head?” Then I remind myself its not that long ago that it never whispered and always screamed. Its getting better. Progress not perfection.

My faith has developed through the understanding that no matter how quiet it whispers or how loud it screams I have managed to survive everyday of my life so far and will continue to do so in all but one. The Power behind me is far Greater than any fear before me! This fear of been unable to show up for life, to fail today when I succeeded yesterday is bullshit, its akin to Homer Simpsons philosophy of “If at first you don’t succeed… Quit!”

Action and quickly into it has to be my first thought, if I wait then the screaming will get louder and Im up against it. ‘Before we begin’ – thats what it says in the book! I counteract both fear and the possibility of failure by connecting straight away to that that I made a decision to receive guidance from. Asking my thoughts be especially divorced from self-pity, dishonest and self seeking motives. Im winning before Ive even stepped out of bed! It doesn’t feel like that straight away but the tide is turning and I have enough experience to be aware of that. It was only 24 hours ago since I done this last, it worked then and my Faith is now one day stronger.

But its still a trudge… When I first came into the Program ‘Before we begin’ was a long way away. I was on that Pink Cloud and life was wonderful, I was so grateful to be sober. I know Im not unique in that experience, its a good way to start. It gave me a glimpse of what life can really be like. Reality however is a little different. We cannot constantly maintain that natural sense of euphoria. But we can develop it. The Homer Simpson mindset of quit when the going gets tough is really that ‘fear of failure’. But if I hide from the lows then how can I ever experience the highs? My search for balance is born out of the understanding that both are impermanent. This search for balance demands effort and action, along with the faith that I can do it – if I just release the desire to control outcomes and not resent whatever gets in the way.  This for me is the essence of Step 7 “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”. Humbly isn’t some aspect of language, it isn’t in the manner that I ask, its about what I offer in return! During my time in a treatment centre the age old question of whats the difference between defects of character and shortcomings came up. Everybody including myself gave their opinion. The Old Timer who manages that facility, a wonderful man with 20 plus years in the Program insisted it was just Bill Wilsons use of ‘Language’, that it was just two ways of saying the same thing. As much as Ive grown to love and respect the old man over the years I have to disagree! Its quoted that our friend Bill even said the same thing himself. For what its worth I think (just my opinion) he just got so sick of people asking him that question it was easier to tell them what they wanted to hear. I believe it is the true Step of Faith! That I agree to do whatever it takes no matter how difficult it seems if the God of my understanding strengthens my legs enough to stop them from buckling along the Journey.

A brief Yoga session and some Prayer and Meditation after I step out of bed doesn’t seem too much like hard work when I remember I agreed to Go to Any Lengths!

I step out the door and head for work feeling the apathy drain leaving me. Im ready to face an imperfect world occupied by imperfect people, myself included. The Journey into self to face myself must be accompanied by a constant thought of others. The willingness to open up and be honest, expressing empathy and compassion in all relationships and encounters, not just with the still suffering!  That doesn’t come natural to me, on the contrary, but its the only way I can enlarge my spiritual life and gain immunity from drinking & drugging for the next 24 hours. If I do that I grow without discouragement, knowing non of us have ever maintained anything like perfect adherence to the principles of Recovery. So when the dis-ease whispers or screams “Thou dares not fail”  I can calmly reply “Grant me the acceptance, courage and wisdom to know and do the next right thing”.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Chinese Proverb.

Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without the loss of enthusiasm” ~ Winston Churchill.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them” ~ Bruce Lee.

Zenphoric Recall

Im vaguely aware that I’m staring at a television set. I can hear voices coming from the TV but I have absolutely no motivation to process the information they are relaying. There is movement in my peripheral vision but again it means nothing. I feel numb! As the cerebral cortex begins to fire back up I hear an excitable commentator describing a goal… its football! It quickly flashes to another team, the centre forward picks up on a beautiful 20 yard pass right onto the toe end and with one deft touch  strikes it sweetly into the top corner as a stranded keeper looks helplessly on. I know how he feels. I look down at the table Im sitting at. A nearly empty half pint glass of Guinness and a slither of Whiskey sit in front of me, I look around the room. It takes a couple of seconds but I recognise the place, I’ve been here many times. Its a fucking plastic shithole, one that barely passes as a bar and has even less credentials as an eatery. Its got zero character and is populated by part time drinkers and a couple of regular losers. All congratulating themselves on getting a good price for beer thats 3 month out of date and tastes like piss. Hence the Guinness… even in blackout Im adverse to these cunts spanking my arse whilst singing nursery rhymes.

The TV shows the Premier League Table, the games are from Saturday. I remember leaving a bar not too far from here late Friday afternoon and picking up drink from the shop downstairs to where I live. Its fucking happened again! My phone says 2pm and its Sunday. It shows messages, one from my Mother asking how I am, and a couple from last night that I’d sent to one acquaintance and a lust interest. Mostly garbled Codshit, but I can make out the words ‘Fuck’ and ‘Me’. Neither message had received a reply. At 9pm last night it shows a call to a drug dealer, I be fucked before I phone that for any info, the crust in my nose says I owe him money. The Whiskey chases the dregs of the blackstuff and I make my way to the door. Its pissing down with rain, and half an inch of it lyes on the pavement. My clothes are bone dry. My knuckles are still covered with skin and I see no blood, not mine or anybody else’s. Still that feeling of dread… how, when, what the fuck. I’ve gotta stop drinking. I can physically feel my mind, its caught in a game of ‘tug of war’. Im frightened its going to snap and the intensity of the mental pain has been a constant for months now. I doubt I can take it much longer. As I feel the water lashing onto the back of my neck I see it spiralling down the plughole of my shower. I have no idea what I’m doing here!The ‘tug of war’ happened ages ago before I got sober, before I moved somewhere else, before the blackouts ended!! Feeling my face scrunched into the tiles and knowing that I’m crying Im also aware that I’ve lived this moment before. I know what happens next. Very shortly Im going to promise myself that no matter what happens I won’t take a drink today. But before I finish getting dry I will get a can of cider from the fridge and start the whole insane cycle over again. As I do everyday! I step out through the bathroom door… Into that night club in Bleaker Street Manhattan. I know behind me is the Women’s toilets and that Canadian girl who dragged me in there on the stroke of 12 bells New Years eve, God knows how many years ago. I’d came here with Jimmy ‘the can’ and he’d done one after I had been led off by that sweet filthy little slut. He’d said nothing to her friend so I toured the 3 floors looking for him before getting severely pissed off after been pushed around by some fuckwitt Puerto Rican. I’d have glassed the bastard if it hadn’t been for his friends eyeballing me from behind his back. His turf I suppose! I know where I’ll find Jimmy. He’ll be outside that IRA Bar on East 30th Street falling about wearing a Leprechaun hat. A limo will pull up full of rich girls. When they get out one of them will walk up and kiss me full on the lips. My cock will twitch at the thought of the Canadian chicks pussy still on my mouth! I step out of the club through the door but it aint Manhattan! Feeling the heavy glass ashtray smash into his face and my shoulder ligaments tear, I see his monkey suit mate leg it. I can still feel my fingers round the rim and the clean cut sharp face points forward. I’m gonna do the cunt, ram it straight into his throat, he deserves to die! Look at him lying there snivelling, 20 stone of pure pussy! Big shot eh tough guy? Wasn’t that half an hour ago was it! My 7 year old son’s face flashes through my mind, just a split second, but it buys this ugly sack of shit another day on the planet. Im screaming as I pelt the leftover glass across the street and into a wall. I can see party goers running for cover… I’ve left my car round here somewhere! The Wig is staring at me. He looks terrified as I stub a half smoked cigarette into the back of my hand. Its his turn and he doesn’t look too enthusiastic. I can see Magoo and Sick Mick running from different ends of the bar, tops off, meeting in the middle to jump mid air, timed to perfection, belly bouncing each other. The Wig is going a funny colour as I smell his burning flesh. Im getting out of my mangled car and jumping into my alcoholic girlfriends motor, we are laughing as she passes me a tin of beer, I give the finger to a gentlemen standing at the bus stop over the road. He takes out his phone as we speed off in her car, mines a right off!

Things start to get a bit fuzzy, feels like time is speeding up. Flashbacks rain down on me at an alarming rate. Im a teenager sniffing glue in decrepit abandoned public toilets. I’m fucking the fat chick from the bedsit next door up the arse, smoking heroin in a prison cell. Bizarrely I’m on that beach in the Caribbean standing in front of a wedding photographer who looks like Sonny Liston… way to go Champ, its early morning at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing Plant and I’m snorting cocaine in the Gents. Time is speeding up but its going backwards now… I have one leg over the handrail and one leg on deck. I’m Starboard Side at the Stern of Sir Percival and we are cutting through the Bay of Bisque. One hand grips the rail, the other squeezes a half tin of Heineken. The Ship is flat bottomed, built to run right up the beach and the 30 foot waves are chucking her about like Dorothy leaving Kansas. She sits temporarily in mid air as the wave rolls under, then crashes into the sea before been lifted again. One split second, wrong move or turn and I’m gone forever… I’ve never felt more alive than I did at that moment!  We are crossing the street from the Painted Wagon moving in on the Beehive. 20 plus Skinheads who I can’t remember ever looking this young. We have no clue who is in the bar over the road but they are going to know we have landed. The door swings open and we pile in. I feel the crunch of violence and the invigoration it brings. Instantly its a Saturday afternoon somewhere mid 80’s. Hot as hate is we are bringing a little extra to the miners strike before heading off to the match. I feel a sharp bump to the shoulder as an angry stranger burst forward past me and flings half a house brick at the mounted policeman. His face explodes as he slumps forward into the horse’s mane, It rears up as both the pickets and the riot squad charge each other. I get swept into the crowd and begin throwing punches at either side, I don’t care its all milk and honey to me… I see Ian… little Ian, wearing that blue away top, stretched over his chubby little belly. Not the Ian I last saw, that skin and bones, bald headed, jaundiced Ian sometime back in ‘85. We are in the old street and he is chasing a ball and laughing. I can feel the knot in my throat somewhere in a different time and place. The miners are taking a beating and I feel blood splatter my face as a truncheon opens up the head of one next to me. I throw full force into my boot swing as he hits the floor… “Get the fuck away from me shitbag” I do not give two fucks for this, I want Ian back, not this boring crock of shite. “Ian!!” Damn it I want him back… I need to tell him, I should of said it that day but how the fuck was I supposed to know we would never see each other again. ‘Iaaaaaan’

“What John… What do you need to tell him????”

Who said that??

You…!

The Wall??

“You need anything Darl’n, can I get you another drink?”

… It’s that waitress in the bar at Dallas Airport, the one with the push-up tits and the black blouse half unbuttoned. She has been fetching me Bloody Mary’s for half a dozen rounds now. Every time I feed her cleavage a $20 bill!

“Can I get the same again, maybe a little something extra this time?” I float a $50 above her chest

“Wadda ya have in mind Sugar?”

“My cock could use sucking”

She winks and turns to the bar, as she approaches it she looks back at me and tips her head in the direction of the staff area behind the counter. I feel a surge of excitement as I get up from my stool. I’m aware I’m very sick at the moment. The illness has been rising in me for months, strangling my soul, I just got so sick of fighting it. It rose to a peak in Fresno, the fear turned into terror! I had done the best I could with what I had at that point in time but it had progressed at an alarming rate. Faster than ever before and I found myself drunk long before leaving for Texas! I remember it was a pretty awesome blowjob, but don’t remember much else. I come out of a blackout just in time to order a whiskey before they announce we will soon be making a descent into Heathrow. Descent makes me laugh…Recalling lost days and nights in Tenerife stoned on Jack Dannie’s and Ecstasy. Then I’m bouncing in a bar in Magaluf, the squad is all there, sweating and laughing. Example is blasting through the sound system… “Never been afraid of the highest heights not afraid of flying, never been afraid of the wildest fights not afraid of dying” Is that right you stupid looking fucker? Hang around a while I will introduce you to a fear that shows you heights and death not be worth worrying about, in the meantime it’s your round!
I know I won’t be able to talk to this lot in the morning before sneaking off somewhere on my own and drowning the self-pity with a few quick sharp lagers.

I can see eyes, faint at first but definitely a pair of eyes. Then a nose, a chin and also a forehead. My vision is sharpening on the image! The unblinking eyes are staring at me, boring into my very existence and examining my consciousness. I can taste every drink I ever took, every drink I ever needed and I needed every drink I ever took. I quickly feel every sensation of every drug I used and as this feeling rapidly passes I sense everything is in reverse. I’m staring at myself! Me – sitting perfectly still on a cushion on the floor, eyes fixed on the wall, unblinking and undisturbed! Then I see the wall… White, smooth and featureless. My mind begins to settle down, the storm begins to pass. I can feel my heart beating gently and my breath moving through the chest in a natural rhythm. The Basu bell on my phone rings signalling the 10 minute warm-up has ended and I settle into a period of Meditation. A quick thought goes through my mind and I smile… It tricked me with the Past this time! Very unusual, it always tries to throw a spanner in the works as I settle down on the Zafu. Projection into the Future is what it usually tries to get me to grasp and attach to it. Sneaky fucker!!

The smile eases from my face as I become conscious of an overflowing sense of peace. Fear leaves and failure is no longer an option, not for these 24 hours. I will get through them sober and enjoy living in every moment. But first… I settle into thinking the thought of no thought.

 

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

 

Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists or doesn’t exist.” ~ Bodhidharma

 

You don’t know my mind you don’t know my kind.” ~ Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Dark Necessities)

 

D&O in Fresno

FEAR!!!

Fear…

“This short word somehow touches every aspect of our lives, it was an evil and corroding thread. The very fabric of our existence was shot through with it…” (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous).

FEAR – Described in 500 words:

Fuck Everything And Run or Face Everything And Recover!

I prefer – Fantastic Expectations Amazing Revelations…

Since I got Sober – Son Of a Bitch Everything is Real, I have been confronted by all of the Step 4 inventory headings. It was an extremely painful and drawn out process that I won’t go into depth about in this post. If I take my eye off the ball and forget the lessons then I fully expect I will go through it again. I truly believe I was dragged through a crash course, taken to Rock Bottom with my most glaring of defects and given a severe and humbling beating. I can now see that I was lovingly protected every ‘Step’ of the way by a Higher Power and helped to overcome. That was my introduction to ‘Step 6’.

Fear is one of them defects. I never realised how much ‘The fabric of my life…’ until I could no longer go to the well and top up on chemical courage. I had no idea I was doing that until I could no longer do it. That was an Amazing Revelation!! People, my former self included like to believe courage is the opposite of fear. ‘Step 7’ requires me to practice the opposite of anything negative that is engrained in me. Practice it every time the negative thought, feeling or behaviour arises. Difficult at first but with the correct use of willpower it slowly gets easier and easier until the old habit dies (or… goes to sleep!) and the new one takes its place. The problem here is courage and fear go hand in hand they are not opposites. Courage is the ability and desire to do the next right thing regardless of fear. It is an incredible virtue. But not the opposite that ‘Step 7’ suggests.

The opposite of fear is Faith. Faith grows from the lived past experience that all turns out well in the end. Maybe it turns out differently from what I would have hoped for or planned, but never the less it always turns out ok. It must have done… I’m still breathing!  

Fear is a primitive instinct that serves us well when we are in a fight or flight situation. However this is rarely the case. The majority of our fears are based on projection. Fantasies about a future event, 5 minutes from now or 5 weeks from now for example. They are never positive fantasies, always heavily negative with a disastrous outcome of sorts. The modern terminology for this is – Catastrophizing!

When gripped by fear especially worry, panic or terror (take your pick it has 1000 forms), it takes a lot of courage to hold onto faith. The desire to burst out screaming and run for cover can be overwhelming. However, when through past experience, remembering that these Fantastical Expectations giving off alarm bells and flashing red lights are nothing more than an illusion produced by an ego under threat- then we can see our own insanity.

Understanding that we are never sane until we can see our own insanity is an Amazing Revelation! As is the awareness that, through this I get to see ‘Step 2’ once again very gently infiltrate my life and that something Much Greater than myself has my back.

 

Day 13 of the WordPress #everydayinspiration challenge suggests I experiment with word count. To either double or half the amount of words from my regular posts. I normally weigh in between 1000 -1200 words. This post lands on the page at 580.
“I’m pulling for you to push through this feeling and with a little time should do the healing” ~ Eminem (Beautiful Pain)
“Every time he tries to look within himself, Pride says, ‘You need not pass this way,’ and Fear says ‘You dare not look!’ But pride and fear of this sort turn out to be bogeymen,nothing else” ~ 12Steps & 12 Traditions pp.49-50

D&O in Fresno