No Frame (Time Frame Conclusion)

“So this is what square 1 looks like. What on Earth have I gotten myself into?”

The Time Frame Conclusion begins….

The proprietor of the halfway house arrived to pick me up. I was expecting a smiling, over zealous, get sober and be happy John Candy kind of guy driving a sports car or a Tahoe.

He was not what I expected…..

What I got was a grumpy, you got my up front rent money, non Hollywood guy driving a beat up Ford Ranger.

I had his rent money……only because my Mother was gracious enough to front it to me…Western Union…on the premise that I use it and get help or forget her number. My drinking and antics apparently affected more than just myself.

I gave him the rent. He then took me on a short tour of the town highlights.

-the Crack District
-Liquor stores
-the jail

Before I could protest on why I was being shown these areas, he told me.

“Listen city boy…..just because you are away from the bright lights and hustle n bustle of city life, it doesn’t mean that our country bumpkin redneck you don’t want to be here town doesn’t have the same party favors you are used to. If you want to change your life, you can. Follow the rules, do something different and you have a shot. But you have to abandon your reservations about living here and realize the reason you are here. You are out of life options at this point. I am offering you a life line. It is up to you what you do with it.”

With that, he pulled up to my new home. It was not new. Some would not call it a home. More like a shanty. I got my bag and went in.

The inside is clean. Everything has its place and is in order. I had 9 other housemates. I was able to get a room by myself. I dubbed it “The Mystery Machine Room”, because each wall had the colors of the Scooby Doo Van. I was still weary of the place, but no one said that at the end of the line there would be a Marriott.

The rules were basic.

-Attend a meeting every day AA or NA
-Check the calendar for your chore
-Sign in and out
-Curfew 11pm
-No females allowed on premises
-1meal a day would be provided Monday-Friday. Weekends I was in my own.

I was broke. It was Friday. It was going to be a long weekend. I had gone days without eating in my past, but, not without being mind blown.

Change happens quickly.

I chose to attend AA meetings. My reasons were simple. I did not have a vehicle. The meeting was 4 blocks away. There were 5 meetings a day. The biggest reason being that I had attended AA meetings in rehab and I already had their little meeting schpeel
down pat.

-go around of speaking

I went to my first meeting that night. I picked up a chip. I really didn’t want one….but if I wanted to fit in, it is what I had to do. October 13, 2006.

I went back the next day
And the next
And the next
And the next

I went to probation to visit my P.O. I was requested to pee into “The Chalice of Consequence.” I did so, with confidence and without hesitation.

I went back two weeks later
And two weeks after
And two weeks after

Same result each time. No alcohol or illegal substances found…..because there was none.

I had a job that paid the rent and left a little money for myself. The sober life was alright but it was not easy…..

The halfway house I lived at had a “revolving door” for clients. In the 10 months that I was a resident, I witnessed 26 different addicts/alcoholics come and go. The reasons for being ejected from paradise varied-

-non payment of rent
-shooting up
-selling drugs out of the house
-some just left
-some died
-some got arrested

I wondered if the term “halfway house” meant halfway to sane or halfway to crazy.

But I stayed.

I learned how to deal my addiction and how to live with it. I worked “the steps” and my life began to change.

After 10 months, I was ready to move out in my own. I made a choice…..a bad one.

A guy I worked with had a room to rent. It was 2 blocks away from AA. It was $100 a month. I jumped at it. Only to find out that I had moved into a crack house.

I lived there 3 months. I stayed clean. I stayed sober.

I picked up my 1 year sober chip while living at a crack house.

I upgraded to my own apartment next. Paid my bills. Bought my own food. Began to have a life.

At 38 years old.

A lot has changed since that first year in sobriety.

I no longer have to pee into a cup.
I no longer look over my shoulder
I no longer have the fear of prison
I no longer wonder what if?

I no longer place my life into a frame.



Window Frame (Time Frame Part 3)

And I did the only thing that a man in my particular situation could do.

Part 3 begins…..

Without a second thought about consequences, I instinctively took the beer from his hand and began to drink.
The more I swallowed, the less I cared about the possibility of returning to the slammer.

Besides, I didn’t have to report to my probation officer for about a month. I had time to get loose and reacquaint myself with the real world. A few beers couldn’t possibly hurt. Either would a few hits off a joint.

My stresses began to melt away…..

Within a few hours, phone calls were made and the new “old crew” was back together to celebrate my out-carceration. They were all happy to see me and wanted to hear about all my adventures from behind bars. The more I told, the more they asked, the more they asked….the more I asked to fulfill my appetite for the illegal pleasures of the mind. They naturally obliged. My capers of breaking the law and getting caught relieved them of focusing on themselves.

The overindulgent loser had returned.

Within a couple of weeks I got a job as a bartender/server at a Italian place. It served 3 crucial purposes in my life.

1- The ability to make money
2- the ability to eat for virtually free
3-the ability to drink throughout the day.

I was good at what I did and was able to pay for a cheap apartment (with 2 party buddies) and support my lifestyle. All in all, I thought I was doing pretty well.

I had meeting with probation on the horizon and was barely able to stay clean OR sober.

I’m going to cut to the chase.

Over the following 3 months I had 6 meetings with my P.O. at her office.

-Peed into the cup 5 times……times the results were satisfactory-ZERO

I was also supposed to attend AA meetings. 90 in 90 days is what they wanted, with verification by way of a signature from a member of AA.

At the end of the 90 days, I attended 1 meeting. She was not pleased.

Things in my “favor”

-I never missed a meeting with her
-I payed my fees in full and on time
-I was available for any and all home and work visits….and there were many.

These pro and con factoids were presented to me, by her, at my 6th and final meeting with her.

She said, and I quote, ” What the fuck is wrong with you. You make no attempt to stay sober, but we can find you any time we want. It’s like an invitation to send you back. Is that what you want?”

I just shrugged my shoulders.

“I am attempting to get you into a rehab. Stay near a phone. If I can get you in, then you go. If you don’t show, I will put a Blue Warrant out on you and your freedom will be done for. Understood?”

For the record, a Blue Warrant is the equivalent of a “police blue light special”. It goes on, they come and get you at a great discount.

She reminded me that I was obviously too stupid to run and they would put me away.

The call came to me at work, less than 24 hours later. I was to report to rehab the following morning by 9am…or else…”Blue Light Time”

I did the only thing that a man in my particular situation could do…..

I called everyone I knew and said I needed a “I’m going to rehab send away bash”

Come one come all. Bring your illegal substances and gallons of booze for the losers send off!!”

I finished off my last drink at 4 am that morning and made it to rehab with approximately 3 minutes to spare.

I make it through intake and get to what would be my living quarters for the next 45 days.

I sit down on my bunk and stare out of the window (that is nailed shut), and think…..

This is either the start of a new beginning….or the end of the line.

One of the other “clients” shuffled into my room. With glazed over eyes, he stuck out his hand and said,

“I’m David and I’m a pill head. Welcome home.”

I shook his hand, and looked back out through the window frame into the world of what my never be again and thought,

“welcome home, indeed” and bowed my head and sighed.


Freeze Frame (Time Frame Part 2)

On the other side of the glass, my attorney opened up the folder that defined what my future was to be. He looked up at me, sighed, and pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose.

And then he began to speak.

Part 2 begins here.

” Well, I have gone back and forth with the prosecution on this. This is your first major arrest. They believe that you have ties to organized crime. I do not think you are smart enough…..or dumb enough to be on that path. I think you are a junkie and were fortunate enough to get caught.”

I interjected,”There was never anything organized about my crimes. A junkie I may be, but fortunate….that could be put up for debate.”

He retorted, “Can we just get through this? You are not the only rocket scientist I have the pleasure to visit today.”

” Touché ”

“The best I can do for you is 5 years adjudicated probation.”

“What does that mean?”

“Don’t get your pink, county issued boxers in a bunch. I’m getting to that.
You follow the rules I am about to lay out for you and technically your record will be clean.”

I didn’t feel like getting into a debate over the word technically. I let him give me the rules. The ones I remember we’re as such-

-No consumption of alcohol
-no consumption of illegal drugs
-no hanging out with known drug users
-no guns
-restitution fees to be paid back $8000
-375 hours of community service
-comply with drug testing and scheduled meetings with a probation officer 2 times a month
-comply with visits at place of occupation and home with a probation officer.

All to be done for a period of 5 years. Beginning with my release, which would be within a couple of hours after signing.

I heard all the rules. I had a problem with just one of them. It happened to be the first one.

-no alcohol.

I stopped him from continuing his extremely eloquent speech.

” What is this about no alcohol? Neither of my charges were alcohol related. That’s kind of crappy to cut me off from something that I am LEGALLY able go do. What kind of racket are y’all running here?”

“It is a standard part of the conditions of probation. If you want to get out…and STAY out. You will comply. All you need to do is sign at the bottom. You will be out shortly after.”

He pushed the papers through the slot at the bottom of the window along with a pen.

A cheap pen, by the way. I would figure if I am signing a legally binding contract for my “freedom” I would get to use a Mont Blanc. But, nooooo, I get to sign with a chewed on Bic.

I put the pen to the contract. Paused, and stopped. I froze to reflect on what this really meant and what chance I had of completing these rules.

-I have been a daily abuser of cocaine for over 8 years.

-the only people I hang out with are drunks, drug users, drug dealers, pill poppers, after hours junkies….you know real high society types.

-and the topper…..I have been a daily, have to have a drink to function, leave me alone, I want to die without it, drunk for upwards of 20 years.

What chance did I realistically have of making it 5 years without it? If I didn’t make it, my probation would be revoked and I would be sent to prison to fulfill my requirements as a felony inmate. 2 charges. Each carrying a sentence of 2-20 years.

Bah….I could do it. 5 years isn’t that long. Just think of the fiesta that will be thrown after I jump through their hoops for 1825 days. It will be epic.

I confidently placed my name in the dotted line, and pushed them back through the slot. Looked him in he eye and said, “Thanks, when do I get out.”

He shook his head and replied, “In a couple of hours.” and walked away.

I returned to the cell. In under 2 hours my name was called. I got the few trivial things I had and got up and said c-ya to my cellies. I won’t be seeing them again….I got this.

Freedom awaits.

After release, I stepped into the Texas sunshine and smiled. I had a do over and I planned to make the best of it. I was tired of being a drunk junkie loser.

Follow the rules
Follow the rules
Follow the rules

I literally had no place to go. I had only been in this city for about 8 months. Four of those were just spent behind bars….you do the math.

It was live the life of the homeless or go back to my friend’s apartment until I got back on my feet.

I walked about 6 miles through downtown and under overpasses to reach my destination.

I knocked on the door.

His roommate answered.
“Hey! They let you out??”

“Yes, they did. Can I crash here.”

“Hell yeah, man. Come in and have a seat.”

I sat down. It began to set in that I was out. I heard no metal on metal cell doors shut. No bed checks. No cell chatter, no fear…..just peace. I exhaled deeply and closed my eyes.

I was awoken from my serenity by the sound of a bottle being opened.

Phssst….. I heard the air escape the pressurized container.

“Here bud, you could probably use this,”

He held out a freshly opened, ice cold, perspiration dripping down the side, frosty bottle of what happened to be my favorite brew.

My heart picked up its pace. My mouth started to water. I opened my eyes. I Looked up at the object in his hand.

And did the only thing that a man in my particular situation could have done.


Time Frame

The fate of my future was in the hands of the man on the other side of the 3 inch thick tempered glass. He held the answer to the one question that consumed all my time over the last 4 months.

Was I going to prison or not?

The man was my court appointed attorney. He had been assigned to me after my arrest. He had visited me one other time to get the details of my incarceration and to parade me in front of the Judge.

He was the one in the suit. I was the one in the oversized white jumpsuit that said inmate on the back.

My reason for being in that particular situation is simple. I was guilty of breaking a few laws.

I was drunk and high and was in a place I should not have been and was subsequently stealing from them.


I got caught.

Make no mistake. I was guilty. I knew it.

I was placed under arrest and charged with 2 felonies.

-drug possession over 4 grams but under 200 grams

– theft of property over $200 but under $20,000.

Both carry a sentence of 2-20 years in prison.

I was completely whacked out of my mind during this time. My actions landed me in the psyche ward of the county jail.

Apparently, trying to convince the officers that I was invisible and if they wanted to put me in that cell they would have to kill me first, was not a good idea.

That little stunt earned me 24 hour isolation for 30 days and a steady flow of Thorazine.

The jail psychiatrist called it a drug induced psychosis. To me it was just another day.

The next 3 months I spent in “general population”. It was here that I learned a few things.

-the crazy guy is easy pickings for fights

-commissary is gold

-thorazine is platinum

-chess pieces and dominos can be carved out of soap

-gambling debts will always be paid. Or else.

– I was the only guilty person in there.

After over 100 days, I was ready to face my fate.

I was escorted up to the glass. I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

On the other side of the glass, my attorney opened up the folder that defined what my future was to be. He looked up at me, sighed, and pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose.

And then began to speak.