|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)|
Read an Excerpt
FlashbackA book on addiction and a life's sentence of poetry
By Daniel Fehr
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2009 Daniel Fehr
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Life's Sentence of Poetry
I was born in the summer of 1962. It was a very small town with a population of 500 or so. My parents both drank a lot; and with a bar right across the street, I would spend as much time there as anywhere else at the local pub. The little town consisted of a general store, two bars, and a barber shop that had two styles of haircuts: regular or military; I have yet to figure out the difference. Even though my dad has been dead for over ten years, there are some things from my childhood that I'm still working on. My dad worked at General Motors for 37 years before he finally retired and, although it wasn't the highest paying of jobs, I'm still puzzled as to why we lived so poorly. I remember us having two huge gardens; one on either side of our house, with pretty much any kind of vegetable one could imagine. We had one small tractor, an old Farmall model super A. With the gardening and the picking of the night crawlers to sell, there was always something to do.
In case you are wondering why I wrote this book and you might be thinking who would give a shit right about now, here it is: I am sitting here, in a prison, where I just graduated from an angermanagement/A.O.D.A. program called a Teleios group. (If you're wondering what Teleios means, I'm told it is a Latin word that means "to be the best you can for yourself and others"). About two weeks before I graduated from the group, I read my autobiography to the group and they all had the same feedback; if I was able to share this with others, I might be able to help some people with not taking their life as far off course as I have; to the point of this prison cell and some very near death experiences.
FLASHBACK: Early 1960's
I cannot tell you the exact time I first started drinking, but it probably would have been before I could walk. I figure this to be from ignorance in the first degree. I remember being able to drink at the bar; sips, at least, as soon as I could reach the bar off of a bar stool. As it is, I remember, for all of the holidays we always had Tom and Jerry mix with rum, brandy, 7-Up, and coke to go with it; but if you preferred it straight, that would be fine also. You know whatever tripped your trigger was cool. The only rule was to not drink more than you can handle and I have yet to figure that one out; so practice, practice, practice, and indeed, that's what I did. By the age of 7, I found a stash of my older brother's weed in an old car; another fine present for someone with an already addictive personality. And at the grand old age of 8, I would have my first brush with the law. Somehow one of my friends down the road figured out how to get high with Pam cooking spray; and that from inhaling it, you could get as high as a kite. So my younger brother and I, who must have been about 7 by now, take off with some friends. We skipped school and went down to this old abandoned railroad shack by the river ... to do what? Yep, get high. So, we are all, like, getting high and screwing around when we starts hearing boats going up and down the river. Shortly after that, we heard some low flying choppers flying by so we, as kids, start hiding and playing the old war games that kids do. A few hours go by when I see my older brother, the one I took the weed from, walking down the tracks. He said, "You guys are so dead. Dad is home from work, they have the helicopters looking for you and they are down by the river dragging it right now looking for you guys!" So, as we are walking towards the house, I look down the road and see police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks on each side of the road as far as the eye could see, with my mom and dad standing next to them looking, to say the least, a bit pissed off. I tell you what, for a 7 and 8 year old, we are scared shitless. But we had one good thing on our side that day; my dad was trying to shake off the DT's and in need of a drink, quick. So we tell them the truth; except for the getting high on dope and Pam cooking spray, I figured that might be best left out and he lets us go with a warning, along with the old famous "You kids are driving us to drink," which was kind of working both ways, but I wasn't going to tell him that. So with enough being said, he and my ma take off home, I mean the bar. Being in a small town in Wisconsin, any type of concern could easily be taken care of right there, at the local pub.
I saw a kid today that is going to be starting the next Teleios group. Upon completion, he could be given a sooner out date than he has right now. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I am afraid of not passing this group and, at the same time, afraid about getting out because this is the first time in fourteen years that I have felt the possibility of things actually looking up for me and the feeling of being happy has been such a long time gone." All he could do is sit there with this overwhelming look in his eyes and stare. Up until this day I don't remember seeing that much emotion; since the day my dad looked at me with fear in his eyes the very first time when he knew he had to quit drinking. It was not him who was in control any longer. Moral to this story is: take heed in what you do today, because it can affect the entire outcome of your life.
My dad has my ma on the floor choking her, which is not all that unusual, but this time, he is not letting her go. I am thirteen at this time. I grab a cast iron skillet and I hit him in the head as hard as I can, but it does not even faze him. Instead of killing me, he looked at me with that same look of helplessness I was talking about a minute ago. My ma is still on the floor, bleeding, and there's spaghetti all over the place that he was trying to make her eat off the floor. My dad looked at me with tears in his eyes, and then he looked at all the damage he had just done. He walked out on the porch, sat down, and waited for the cops to come and take him to jail. My younger brother had called them, remembering the drill we had gone through so many times in the past. After that day, I would not see my dad again for two or more years and that would be the end of his marriage to my ma. Moral to this story: all drunken stupidity will catch up to you in the end. Every day that you use, you're adding to the cost, plus contributing to the possible loss of your freedom / life. Where it will be in somebody else's hands that decides its fate.
I have been sitting here reminiscing about my childhood. I remember getting my first bb gun at the age of seven or so. My brother who was just a year younger than me would usually end up getting the same presents as me. We would spend most of our time walking the railroad tracks, shooting at birds, or whatever we seen. Coming from an addicted family, there really wasn't much family time spent together but, don't get me wrong, anything that I learned by myself I treasure. The holidays were pretty good also. We would spend every deer season up where my grandparents homesteaded deer hunting. With my dad coming from an all-boy family, there were a lot of survival and hunting skills my uncles were more than happy to teach me. My grandpa would die by the time I was around ten from Alzheimer disease and I would only get a chance to meet him about two times in my life. My dad would die from the same thing some years down the line. I remember when my sister would get her first car at the age of sixteen because she went to the bar to check it out and she accidentally left the stove on causing our house to burn down. We would move to another house out in the country in a different town. That gave me one more reason to say "piss on it", like I needed one. After that I seemed to remain a very angry, drunken soul for years to come.
We are living at a different house in the country after a brief stay in a small trailer in which we stayed in between houses from the fire. I am getting in a lot of trouble in school, that is, whenever I went. The town was a little redneck town; a little different from the town I had come from. It was a lot more hypocritical. There it seemed that if you even smoked cigarettes it was a mortal sin; which I had been doing for sometime now. And if you smoked pot, you just might be the devil himself. In this town, drinking and chewing tobacco was the thing, so at least I had part of it right; Damn hypocrites, I tell ya. Now I am skipping school, getting in fights, and getting high ... go figure. I believe that from the lack of understanding, love, and guidance that these would become almost as big of a problem as the drinking and getting high would; but all would take there toll somewhere down the line.
We now had four cars since my mom started working, so they parked the two beaters and drove the new ones. Good news for me because we were parked by a bar one day right next to a hardware store. I asked if I could have the keys to listen to the radio, went to the hardware store, and had a key made for every vehicle that we had. By now, the next year of school was starting and I was in eighth grade. I had skipped school from the first day that year and for all the rest to come. The school must have just figure that I had moved or something because not a single absentee or report card would ever come (like I wouldn't have got them as soon as they came in the mail anyway). As for the report cards, there was no one who really gave a shit to check or look at them anyway. So what I would do is go out to catch the bus in front of the house, hide in the cornfield until the bus went by and wait until everyone else had left the house and the coast looked clear. I would go fire up one of the cars and go pick up my buddies, get some dope and some beer and off we would go. To help us in doing this, we would get some of our funds from lunch money, and some from stealing from stores and returning the stuff, or trading the stolen shit for what we needed: drugs, beer, gas, and cigs. At the age of twelve, my younger brother and I, along with some neighbor kids broke into a house nearby and partied for the weekend. We broke a whole lot of shit and stole the rest. We would end up getting caught and sitting two weeks in jail and would also receive a couple of years of probation from that. You know, never even thinking about how violated the victims must have felt from all the shit we stole and broke until now. And I do feel bad, but at the same time, a little better every time I put some of this out there. Moral to this story: always keep track of your children, it's your job.
My family and I are between houses staying in a little trailer. I have been communicating with some of my old Pam-sniffing buddies from my home town. I am told that one of the four brothers had gone missing for some time when they find out that somewhere down in Texas that he was hit and killed by, I believe, a drunk driver. A few days after that, me and my younger brother would attend his funeral. We lost track of their family for a while only to find out that not too long after JC's death, his younger brother, the youngest of the family, drove his corvette off of a bridge killing him instantly; again from drugs and alcohol if I remember it right. It was a bit much for a friend to take and I can't even imagine the devastation of the family. As for me, like all of the other stop signs that would be thrown at me in my lifetime, instead of regrouping and making an attempt to change my ways, I would just run even harder. Moral to this story is if you are ruining your life as an addict under the influence, your family and friends will never have peace of mind.
I have received a letter from my mom today. Some of the things I have been dreading that might happen to my brother and sister-in-law are starting to take their toll. Since they started using and drinking not so awfully long ago, my younger brother, up until two years ago, had become very successful in business and family life. For the last 27 years, they drank only on occasion, but never had the problems like I have from alcohol and drugs, prescription or otherwise. But a few years back, they both started using powder cocaine on the weekends and, from my understanding, they couldn't find it one night and were offered some crack cocaine instead. In the last two short years, they have lost each other, their house, their cars, a custom Harley, a boat, some fishing equipment, the best of all accessories, clothes, jewelry, a 37-foot mobile home (with enough tents, grills, and all of the outdoor equipment for 20 people to survive by a lake in the woods) pretty much indefinitely. His business that they had built for 27 years, and anything else that they had accumulated in their lifetime (except for in general the clothes on their back) all was lost; they would leave their house of 20 plus years with nothing. They have both been to jail and are still facing charges, heading down the same road that I have. It is so easy for one to think that they are beyond the reach of falling into an addiction when all it can take is one push, pull, line, pill, drag, or swallow. As for me, I have lost my children, beautiful girlfriends, everything I have ever owned over 13 times, my family, my friends, and my freedom, as well as my life, shortly, on a few occasions.
The insanity of the user is devastating. He cannot see the outcome of what is going on around him even though he is standing right in it, at the very center. And there is no means or boundaries that they will not use to get their next hit, drink, line, or fix and if they don't find it today, you can bet it will be the first thing they will work on when, or if, the next day comes. In the next part of this book, I am going to share my ups and downs, along with the good times and the bad of my addictions.
I am almost sixteen when I am awakened by the sound of a horn and blaring headlights. I am in a '69 Pontiac Le Mans, a two-door coupe. There were 13 of us in the car, 14 if you count that one of the girls was pregnant, along with Bobbie Sue, a girl who would give birth to my first son a year down the line. I glance at the speedometer that went up to 135 mph and it was pegged. I glance up to see a semi truck's headlights and I am in his lane. I figure that the semi must have been doing at least 60 or 70 mph because we were on the highway. We were headed to a party somewhere out in the middle of nowhere; and this was to be my first brush with death. To this day, I believe that it was the will of the Lord only that kept us all from losing our lives that night. I jerk the steering wheel to the right as hard as I could and then back to the left. It must have been one of those low-riding trailers because instead of going under it, we rode right beside it, busting off the mirror with sparks flying from the door handle until we finally cleared the back of the trailer. The next day, I looked at the door handle and I realized how close to death we had came to on that night as would come to happen to me so many more times through all my drunken insanity. At fifteen, I was already a full-blown alcoholic who needed a drink first-thing in the morning to take the shakes away. I had already taken acid several times, mushrooms, Valiums, inhalants, speed; and smoked and sold weed on a daily basis. There wasn't anything I wouldn't try if I could get my hands on it. I would spend my summers up north, bailing hay and doing farm chores with my cousin Billy. I would hitchhike to southern Wisconsin on the weekends and pick up pot and whatever else I could find then go back up north to start the whole process over again. I would roll over my dad's new '76 Chevy Impala soon after that to get ...? You guessed it, more beer. An almost mint condition Cadillac to get what ...? Say it with me now, "more beer!" Also so many other motorbikes, snowmobiles, cars, and trucks than I care to mention. Moral to this story is never put your life in the hands of someone who is under the influence of anything.
Excerpted from Flashback by Daniel Fehr Copyright © 2009 by Daniel Fehr . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.