CHAPTER 2 – OLD TIMES
Ten years ago they left the house around noon and he had only been drunk since breakfast so he wasn’t quite in his “mellow” zone that he normally finds around hour four or five of the binge. As he made his way to the interstate he tried to turn to face the back seat and threatened to smack Owen if he didn’t stop singing “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E” over and over. The boy had been so excited to go Disney World for months and couldn’t help it.
Besides not being able to see the road while chastising his son, Jeff pushed down on the gas pedal to help give him leverage to turn against his seatbelt. While he was turned to the backseat, he sideswiped a minivan that forced him to swerve into a little sedan and eventually, after clearing a ditch, Suzy smashed into a large elm tree.
Turns out, the driver of the sedan, “Trix” as he liked to be called, was the same guy that regularly sold Jeff his Meth and Coke. Luckily for Jeff, he knew for a fact that Trix had a huge stash of baggies in a compartment under the glove box. Also, since Trix’s leg was as busted as his car, his only option was to corroborate with Jeff’s story to protect his own ass. If he hadn’t been injured, Trix would have bolted and Jeff would have been the one still rotting in jail.
The story was that the minivan missed its exit or something, so it tried to quickly cut across two lanes without looking and started the whole mess. In the ensuing chaos of fire trucks, ambulances, police officers, tow trucks and onlookers, the scene became quite a spectacle and Jeff managed to keep the attention on his family and off of himself. Even in the worst of situations his survival instincts trumped all else.
In the end, the drug dealer was set free, the innocent, single mother of two was jailed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and Jeff, responsible for everything, including the deaths of his wife and son, was set free with an outpouring of apologies and sympathy. How could that happen? It was amazing really. First he put a couple of eye drops in his eyes and then a few in his mouth.
After throwing up repeatedly, Jeff had asked one of the onlookers for some Advil. When they came back and gave him a Styrofoam cup and some pills, he made sure to down them in front of the attending police officers and the local reporter. His lawyer preempted the question of Jeff being under the influence by pointing to his client accepting unidentified liquid and pills from a stranger, while not being in a sensible frame of mind, given the severity of the trauma he just endured.
He had always had an evil streak in him, but that night it took over. The weight of the guilt was like a noose wrapped around his neck, tied to a boulder and tossed into the deepest ocean. It was always dragging him down into the darkest depths of depression and debauchery. Jeff rationalized his actions by convincing himself that he had no choice because everything good in his life had been taken away that night. That his soul had died with his wife and son.
He drank himself into oblivion over what could have been weeks or months, maybe years, and had somehow ended up secretly living in some senior citizen’s basement in GodKnowsWhere, Arkansas. When they found him, a judge gave him the option of “voluntary” rehabilitation due to the cause of his “falling into sin” or jail time. Jeff took the rehab, but if he had the chance to choose again, he’d definitely pick jail. They forced him to go cold turkey for six months and it almost killed him.
When he finally got his head halfway straight, he got in touch with his lawyer and found out that his house had been foreclosed, his possessions confiscated and Suzy had been impounded. Every time he hit rock bottom, luck seemed to spring up from nowhere to save him. He had started his descent towards a self-destructive paradise before looking into his wife’s life insurance situation.
She had a policy for a hundred thousand dollars with Jeff listed as the sole beneficiary and it more than covered getting Suzy out of the pound, the first and last months payments on a new condo and a new wardrobe. He knew that he was responsible for his wife and son’s death, but somehow from that incident, unbelievable luck had kept him alive and safe and now it was awarding him a whole new lease on life. It had to be fate. He had to have some higher purpose, he felt it.