“Low Road”: Chapter 20

cold alcohol drink glass
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Low Road is the only novel-sized draft I’ve written. For the longest time, it was the only story I’ve completed. Unfortunately, it was terrible. But because this is my only novel, I’ve been editing it to make it presentable.

Recap: the drunkass POS Rod Townshend is living his mom and her loser boyfriend, Lance. Because of his heart-attack, Rod had to quit drinking. So he begins attending AA meetings…

Chapter 20

“I’m Rod. I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been sober for 15 hours. I’ve been drunk every day since I was 17. I got kicked out of college. I don’t believe that I’ve ever had a real job. There’s not much I do remember about the last few years. I had a mild heart attack last week. That’s why I’m here.”

The room was dead silent.

“Thanks for coming Rod”, everyone chanted.

No one said anything. Then Daniella spoke up.

“Thank you, Rod. What I like to do when we have a new guest is to share my story. I grew up here. My parents were immigrants working on the farms and factories. I had my first drink when I was 12. Started smoking, cigarettes, marijuana, and having sex at a young age. At 16, I met a man that was a few years older than me. He introduced me to meth. When I was 20, I found out that I was pregnant. My daughter was born, I managed to go back to school, finish my GED. Then I went to college, got a degree, and now I’m a drug counselor.”

While Daniella was talking, I was admiring her tattoos. She had them all up her arms and legs. I don’t remember anything she said after that. After the meeting, I met with her one-on-one. She gave me her contact information. “Daniella H” with her phone number was all it said.

Lance failed to come pick me up after the meeting. I decided to walk it back to the house. It wasn’t far. I trekked a mile down the road when Daniella pulled up.

“Do you think you should be walking after a heart attack?” she asked.
“Probably not.”
“Get in, I’ll give you a ride.”

I got in. Her car was ridiculously clean.

“So what happened to your car?” Daniella asked.
“My ex-girlfriend stole it.”
“Did you report her?”
“No, I don’t want it back.”

We exchange a few stories about crazy exes. She wasn’t much older than me. I tried to play it straight. I kept flirting to a minimum. At least I tried to. I kept those thoughts suppressed. Finally we arrived at the house.

“Remember, if you have any issues, call me. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 in the morning. I will talk. Okay?” she said

“Will do.”

I had to find a job. The doctor cleared me for work. I went to a temp agency. They found me a shitty job working at a warehouse. It was for 40 hours a week and $9 an hour. I was still living with Lance and Mom. I learned that Lance was hanging out at a community college and stealing textbooks to make cash. That was how he met Mom, she was there taking a course there.

I continued to go to AA. I couldn’t stand most of the people. Daniella kept driving me home. She continued giving me shit about not having a vehicle. Didn’t know if she was being mean or flirting. But I didn’t have a drink during this time.

The job was stressful. I had to learn how to drive a forklift. My boss was a guy that worked there his entire life. He warned me that if I didn’t learn to work like him, then I wouldn’t last long. I hoped that was a promise.

I started ‘dippin’. It wasn’t too bad. It’s not as nasty as people say it is. When I went home, I tried to focus on other things. I watched an obscene amount of porn on Lance’s computer. But at least it kept me from drinking.

One night, I knew that I was in trouble. I couldn’t sleep despite my jerking off. Finally I called Daniella. It was nearly midnight.

“Are you busy?” I asked. “I’m really struggling tonight.”
“I’m not busy at all. Are you alone?”
“I’m with my mom and her boyfriend. They’re both drunk.”

We talked through the night. Her voice kept me calm. I asked questions about her. Her daughter was 7 years old and in the second grade. They go to Colorado in the summer. She also shared a more in-depth look at her struggles. How she gave up drugs, her abusive boyfriend, and the like.

I don’t remember when we stopped talking.

“We’ll meet up tomorrow.” She said. “Just hang in there.”

We hung up the phone. I immediately missed her.

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