Good morning and welcome. Greet the sun and douse the lights. Your face is pale; your eyes are red. There’s not a drop of blood in your entire body.
In the corner, a muffled gurgling. Father Time slumbers drunkenly, heaving in on himself as the room clouds darkly. Consciousness sinks into an airy repose.
It’s a sin to wake, and it’s a sin to sleep. Go ahead and give it your all. You’ll see where you end up. Hunched on your side like Father Time.
They’re tailing us with greed in their faces, entangled in strings. Cut the strings, kill the man. It’s an ancient proverb.
An infant squeals in the empty streets, contorting his chubby hands. The buildings are boarded; the dust asphyxiates. Signs swing on the road.
Tear-stained letters across the page. Blood-stained thumbprints within the margins. Whose could they possibly be?
One last vision for good measure, before Father Time sobers up. It winks like a star before blanking out, and the pupils adjust again.
Second and final excerpt taken from the short story: Three Days Sober. It is largely autobiographical. Clocks in at 6000 words. It’s pretty rugged. I’m just glad it’s over with. Now, I wonder if anyone’s got the balls to publish it?
Today’s meeting is centered on the higher power. It is perhaps the most crucial aspect of the twelve step program. To AA, the only thing standing between a drunk and a drink is something greater than the two. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Jesus or even a god. In theory, you can pick anything, so long as you feel it can guide you through sobriety. But in reality the program is theistic and definitely Christian-based. Consequently, its adherents believe agnostics and atheists must give up their way of thinking in order to attain sobriety. I’ve found that last bit to be particularly offensive. I don’t wear philosophy like an article of clothing.
I sit in the meeting, listening. Many people have brought the Big Book with them. Green and yellow page markers jut out from the spines. People shuffle through their copies or even quote the text from memory, as if it was a sacred work rather than a string of words written seventy-plus years ago. Perhaps they believe the authors were touched by God. But the way I see it, my brain is just as good as the one Bill or Dr. Bob had. If they could find a way to sober themselves up then so can I. There is always another path. I’ve never stopped believing that, despite AA’s repeated insistence to the contrary. I’ll beat my way through the wilderness if I have to.
Yet I feel uncertain because I have no ground to stand on. The people in this program are sober, and I am not. I’m sick to death, and they’re still kicking. They must know something that I don’t, and I’m here to find out what that is. There must be a psychological explanation. I’ll return until I’ve deduced the source. I will attend meetings for the sake of learning, but not believing. I will gather the tools that work for me, and trash the rest. I have no time for superstitious gabble. I will study the literature and the people. I will keep my skepticism close, a heavy weapon that preserves my space. It will be a sociological experiment.