If I Had a Smoke, I’d Die – 30 July 2014

Posted: July 30, 2014 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,




30 July 2014

Chuck was bundled in his raincoat with his hood pulled over his cap. He had to keep readjusting his hood so it wouldn’t slip over his eyes. “Hi Chuck”, I said, “are you managing to keep dry?”

“Yeah, it’s not too bad now. When it rained heavily I took shelter. I always keep a plastic bag to put over the hand controls so they don’t short-circuit.”

I asked, “Have you heard that Joy’s in hospital.”

“That’s too bad. What’s she in for.”

“It’s her fibromyalgia, she wasn’t able to get out of bed yesterday. Her legs were too weak to stand and her arms were weak.”

“I feel bad now criticizing her for not being down here. I hate hospitals. Did you hear about the daughter who came from another country to visit her parents in hospital? They couldn’t find them.  How disorganized can they be. Did you see that movie with a similar theme?”

“I don’t think so. Who was in it?”

“It was that Canadian guy. The movie was filmed in one of the hospitals here.”

I asked, “The actor, is he an old guy?”

“Well, he is now. He has sort of a deep voice.”

“Donald Sutherland?”

“Yeah, that’s him. I had a close friend who went to hospital. I don’t know if it was the meds he was on, but when I visited he didn’t recognize me.”

“Perhaps it was dementia.”

“I don’t know. For some reason his mind was all scrambled. It reminds me of another guy who lived in the same rooming house as I did. It was in a rough area.  He became an alcoholic, lost his business, his family. He just fell to pieces. When he was in hospital his wife came to visit. She told him that if he quit drinking, she’d consider letting him return to living in their home. Things were going well, six months past and he hadn’t had a drink. She invited him over for Christmas. Everything was fine. After about eighteen months sober they were invited to a party. She ordered a drink, he drank soda water. She said, ‘I can’t spend time with you, because my boyfriend’s here. The guy, Suitcase Henry, went straight to the bar and got wasted. Eighteen months down the drain.

I asked, “Is it difficult to get into a rehab program?”

“It’s easy to get into rehab. Getting into a program can take months. I don’t have very much faith in those programs. They’re all basically twelve step programs. There’s a lot of chatting back and forth. Some people find there’s too much religion involved. It’s hard, once you’re an alcoholic, you’re always an alcoholic. Sometimes when I’m with my sons, they’ll offer me a drink. I think about it, but drinking makes your mind go crazy. If I had a drink, I’d want a smoke. They just go together. If I had a smoke, I’d die.”


  1. songtothesirens says:

    I believe that what you are doing with your blog is very important. You are giving humanity and a voice to the homeless which is something many people do not understand. The homeless are someone’s father or mother, someone’s son or daughter, and they are not all a bunch of losers in life, nor are they all alcoholic or drug addicted. They are people who have had a bad turn in life. I do not think that the average person who is not living paycheck to paycheck, or depend on disability realize just how close many people are to being homeless.


  2. Michelle says:

    The sadness that I got out of this was that the wife made a promise that she was willing to break. I’m not saying that Suitcase Henry was without fault but her disregard for his feelings enabled his return to the drink.


  3. glenn2point0 says:

    I have sometimes wondered about the religiousness of 12 step programs.


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