Indie Book Promo is happy to welcome Blackwater to the blog. He is the author of A Tuesday Afternoon in Chertsey and is here to share about his book. If this sounds like the type of book you would be interested in reading, find a buy link below and pick up a copy or two.
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Blackwater is a native of New Jersey with roots stemming from the southern state of Virginia. After having moved around from New Jersey to Maine, then to Virginia and North Carolina, Blackwater has recently settled back to his home state where his heart is. Blackwater works in the arts field and enjoys keeping himself busy learning through challenging projects, spending time outdoors, and sharing life with his wonderful soulmate and her daughter.
A Tuesday Afternoon in Chertsey is available at:
A Tuesday Afternoon in Chertsey
Friday, September 18, 2009
I woke up rather numb that morning to what was about to happen. All I knew was that I needed to grab a beer and catch a plane. I had a message on my phone that morning from my sister wishing me good luck at rehab. I took a shower, said good-bye to my beloved cats, and grabbed my beer and the bag of belongings I would be using for the next three months. My girlfriend, Chandra, and I got in the truck and headed to the Charlotte Douglas Airport. I was catching a plane to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Although I was scared shitless, there was a sense of relief. I was simply going to let this journey take me where it would, for I had become a slave to the drink and was a miserable man mentally and physically. I needed help. Serious help. So I surrendered, for no longer did I think I could win. Actually, I had been slowly losing for about a decade.
Chandra willingly researched rehabilitation centers. Then my father, Chandra, and I narrowed it down to one. A main rule I had when considering rehabs was that it could not be a faith-based, twelve-step program or similar. I wanted/needed psychiatric guidance without religion involved. I am not anti-religion; in fact, I find it very interesting, but I did not feel that religion played a role in this situation for me. Religion didn’t get me there, and religion wasn’t going to get me out. Plain and simple.
I swigged my last third of beer, then Chandra walked me into the airport. I can vaguely remember standing in line at the security check but not much else until I was in the Chicago airport bar. I had a small layover before catching another flight to Canada. In the bar I proceeded to have two shots of Jagermeister and a Budweiser chaser before I strolled to catch the flight to Montreal. I was still numb to where I was going and why. I wasn’t in denial; I just didn’t give a shit anymore.
From Chicago to Montreal, I ordered a shot of vodka and a beer. These were most likely the last drinks I would ever have because once I got to rehab, it was over. That was in my heart. I was so exhausted that I think maybe I took one sip of the beer, and that was it. I slept the rest of the way.
I arrived at the Montreal-Trudeau airport and proceeded straight to customs. There were the standard security questions, I suppose. However, the questioning stopped as soon as the reason for my visit was exposed. We were told by the rehab to state:
“I am entering Canada because I will be attending Clear Haven Rehabilitation Center.”
That did it! Got me right through customs with the proper paperwork in hand. It was made very clear to me by customs that I was to leave the country upon completion of my rehab agenda.
Once through customs, I was to walk to a certain location within the airport to meet my rehab-supplied driver. It was at this point that I felt I needed another drink before we took that ride to rehab. I began walking in the direction of the cab and limo drivers, hoping the whole time to somehow find an opportunity to grab a quick drink before seeing the driver. It wasn’t going to happen though. I saw the driver holding the sign, and I greeted him thinking that on our walk to the vehicle that he wouldn’t mind if we just stopped in the airport bar while I grabbed a drink. When I told him my ingenious plan, he looked at me like I was nuts (a look that would become familiar) and told me we didn’t have time.
“Wow!” I thought to myself. Those drinks on the airplane were going to be the last drinks I would ever have. My drinking didn’t exactly go out with a bang because I ended up falling asleep, but it is pretty neat to know that my last drink was probably over the Buffalo, New York area.
I don’t remember the walk from the airport to the vehicle at all. George, the rehab driver, was a very smiley, quiet man—mostly quiet with me because he didn’t know very much English. He spoke Canadian French. I can only imagine the characters he had the pleasure of meeting during their voyage to rehab. Aside from remembering a few look-out-the-window sessions, the ride to the rehab was mostly a blur for me. The ride was about one hour and fifteen minutes from the airport through Montreal and north through the beautiful countryside of the Quebec province.
I was so worn out. I mostly fell in and out of sleep. Waking up from a doze in the backseat of the van and looking out the window, I felt a sense of relief; it was a relief to get away from the miserable situation I had gotten myself into in the previous few years. My body was so physically exhausted that I couldn’t do much but see out the window from the perspective of one whose head is on the backseat. I mostly saw green treetops against crisp blue skies and cotton ball clouds. These were the same skies that had covered the great state of Maine when I had lived there over a decade earlier; this view brought a feeling of warmth.
We arrived at the rehab sometime in the early evening. Here it was, Clear Haven Rehabilitation Center. This was going to be my home for the next three months. The building had a very institutional look to it. The facility was rumored to have been a monastery for monks.
I don’t remember opening the car door, or getting out, or anything
like that. Instead, my very first memory of Clear Haven was seeing a client named Chris throwing a fit in the hallway entrance of the rehab building.
“Screw this place! Screw you people! This is a fricken joke! I’m outta here!”
Chris was able to handle about four hours of rehab before he lost his marbles. Chris left that night and flew back to Florida. He would return in a week or so.
Behind the entourage of security and counselors escorting Chris out (I believe he had called a cab), was a group of the rehab female clients absorbing all of the action. Much like your typical high school clique, they would use the scene for great gossip later.
There were four indoor levels to the rehab center:
• The Ground Level, more like a basement, had a rec room, gym, laundry, massage room, smoking dungeon, and what looked like may have been small classrooms.
• The First Floor was at ground level and had a typical high school layout and feel but with fake plants and motivational posters scattered about. It consisted of counselors’ offices at the far end, a nurse’s office, more counselors’ offices, a security office, a client lounge, a cafeteria, and classrooms. This floor is where most of the action occurred.
• The Second Floor held the female quarters and two suites, a gymnasium, and a few more counselors’ offices.
• The Third Floor housed the males.
The driver escorted me down the hallway through Chris’s fit for my processing. Once in the security office, I had the pleasure of meeting Captain and Lynn for the first time.
Lynn was a bullish, stocky blonde-haired lady with a no-nonsense attitude right off the bat. She reminded me of a tough Harley chick, but of the old school variety. Very nicely, with a smile, she gave the impression: “Cooperate, no attitude, and we’ll get along fine.” Get onto her shit list, and you would be hard pressed to get off that list.
Lynn proceeded to check in my belongings. I didn’t have but one suitcase for the next eighty-six days. It held three t-shirts, two button-down shirts, one flannel shirt, four pairs of underwear, four pairs of socks, four pairs of blue jeans, magazines, a drawing pad and pencils, and my toiletries. I was able to take most of my stuff to my room. Vitamins and Band-Aids were to be locked up in the nurse’s office. Band-Aids needed to be locked up because the adhesive was being freebased using the spoons in the cafeteria. Lighters were allowed because we were allowed to smoke cigarettes.
I quit smoking a few months before I entered into rehab. It was my attempt to get rid of one problem while hoping another would magically disappear. There had been many attempts at quitting cigarettes in the years preceding rehab. I tried cold turkey a few times, hypnosis twice, and a popular prescription drug once. Hypnosis worked pretty well for about seven to nine months each time and then seemed to wear off. I now know that “seemed to wear off” feeling was simply an event in my life that triggered smoking again. The surrealistic experience of the hypnosis would be a familiar one in the days to come. The prescription did not work well for me at all. I was within the three percent who suffered from nightmares. A vision within a nightmare I had while on the prescription would also be relived in the days to come.
The check-in was almost complete. My magazines were taken away for numerous reasons. For one, the faculty did not want the advertisements to influence clients. For another, there had been events in the past where LSD had been blotted onto the magazine pages.
I didn’t get the feeling that I had charmed my way onto the good side of Lynn. Then we were off to a small office next to security. This office was a general purpose office where Captain would finish up the paper work for entry into the Clear Haven Center. Captain asked if I would like to call home to inform Chandra and her daughters that I had arrived. I was very excited to call home. I had been under the impression I
would not be able to have any contact with any family for at least a month. Captain dialed the phone, and I spoke with Chandra for about five minutes, at the most. When I hung up, Captain asked with a
hint of surprise,
“Have you been drinking?”
I remember that being such a bizarre question. Of course I had been drinking. That’s the whole reason I was there: I couldn’t control my drinking. Didn’t the other alcoholics pass through the door buzzed up?
“Yes, I drank on the way here.”