Falling From Grace

The fall from grace is one which can humble even the most resilient of all people. The higher you fly the further you have to fall. The “falling” is generally associated with life and involves people who ride a wave of popularity and success until the temptations of life bring them crashing back to Earth.

My personal fall involves playing poker and winning money. Playing for and winning unfathomable amounts, money literally became a worthless commodity to me. I carried around a bankroll of thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. I gave money away like I had an unending source.

My lack of appreciation for the skills I was using and the part of my character that I was throwing away with the money was the beginning of my fall. Not being able to value anything made everything seem pointless beyond an adrenalin rush. Everything could be bought and sold for a price.

It was the Spirit Mountain Anniversary Series and I was playing $30-60 limit Hold’em with a full kill (sky-high limits for 15 years ago). It was not so much a big game as it was a wild game, with lots of unnecessary raising pre-flop. Early half of all the pots were capped before the flop with more than five players still in the hand. It was a very volatile game and not for anyone with a questionable bankroll.

Usually by ten or eleven I would be cashed out and ready to go party with friends. Trust me when I say, “When you have money, you have friends.” During the week my following grew in size as I gathered new “friends” to help me spend my poker winnings. The group would go to the bar and I would buy drinks for everyone in the bar until nobody could drink anymore. People would get five or six drinks behind, but I would keep buying round after round as the drinks stacked up in front of everyone. I tipped twenties like they were singles.

I fancy myself quite a good leader of people, and as such, I would try to set the pace for the binge drinking I was promoting. On the fourth night of this suicide mission I was incredibly drunk and puking my guts out in the bathroom of the bar. But fear not! I was right back to slamming shots as soon as I got the puke wiped off my face. I have no idea how long the party lasted on this night because I blacked out somewhere after my fourth visit to the bathroom.

I wake up feeling horrible. My head is throbbing and everything about me feels wrong. My eyes won’t focus and I’m not sure I can move any of my extremities. I can blink my eyes, but even that is a monumental effort. I want to turn my head but can’t think of a way to do it. The only rational thought I manage is:

I have to be breathing or I would be dead. Then again what do I know about being dead. His could be it for all I know. Maybe I should just go back to sleep.

Of course I can’t go to sleep. My heart is pounding and my mind racing. I feel like I have woken up in the middle of dying.

Hell no! I am not dying here; not this way.

I shake my head back and forth and oh God, does it hurt. I force my eyes open and try to see through the leftover alcoholic-hangover fog. Flopping over to my right, I tumble out of bed, landing on the floor in a helpless heap. But at least I’m fighting the good fight.

I can’t move my arms and legs. My body feels cold. My arm is just limp and laying at such an odd angle. What Happened to me? Was I drugged?

Tangled in the sheets I refuse to die on the floor of this hotel. I roll over and my legs are useless. I discover that I can’t move my arm because it’s pinned under my body. I squirm around, trying to scoot across the floor and bringing the sheets tight across my throat.

My legs are numb and feel like buckets are attached where my feet are supposed to be. I try putting weight on my foot and it shoots back an angry protest. I decide to give my newly liberated arm a try. I manage to convince myself it is still attached by grabbing it with my other hand. I give it a quick shake (Yep! Still attached!), and let the dead arm drop back on the floor with a loud “thunk!”

I really want to get up on the bed. I don’t know why I so desperately wanted to be out of it just five short minutes ago.

I struggle halfway up onto the bed and lie face down with my still-dead legs trailing down to the floor in a boneless tangle. I rethink laying facedown on the bed and consider oxygen might be a nice change from sweaty stale cotton and hotel mattress. Rolling over I briefly enjoy unobstructed air. Giddy on so much (relatively) clean air, I fool-heartedly try to use my feet to push myself the rest of the way onto the bed.

It’s a very bad idea and I end up using my elbows to drag myself a few more inches onto the bed. I stare up at a ceiling that I know is there but can’t really see. Eyes closed feels so much more comfortable.

I am going to get out of this bed. I have to get up.

This time I manage to make it into an upright position. Sitting up with my feet on the floor, I rub my feet on the carpet in an attempt at getting some blood circulating. I rub them until the pain starts. But hey, at least I am feeling something again! I manage to stand and on feet that feel like they are trying to crawl off my ankles, and I just make it to the bathroom.

I wish I could see. Everything is just so blurry.

I lean against the wall while the water turns cold to warm and finally, to hot. Too Hot! I fumble for the controls and try to adjust the water. I am dizzy and decide that this is just as good of place as any and I lean over and vomit in the shower. It burns my throat and nose. I am pretty sure it is straight alcohol and stomach bile. The heaving continues long after my stomach has given up any and all contents. The good news is that it takes my mind off my feet.

I’m alive… everything hurts so this isn’t really a dream. Dear God what have I done to myself? I promise I’ll be good from now on! No more lying, cheating, gambling, or whoring around if I just get out of this room alive.

The water goes from hot to warm and finally back to cold. I fiddle with the knobs in a futile attempt to get more warm water. The hot water is gone and the cold water that was refreshing is now unpleasantly cold. With the water off, I just stand in the shower. I blow my nose in my hand and chunks of something (brain maybe?) come out of my nose.

I stagger out of the shower and wrap myself into a towel that is several sizes too small for my body. I rub whatever it was that came out of my nose onto a hand towel and throw it on the floor. I throw my towel down on the floor and try to stand on it. The towel is instantly soaked and even though I can’t see yet, I know the bathroom is flooded. I probably should have closed the shower door.

The sun is really bright. I need to close the curtains or something. Hey! Wasn’t there another bed in the room? I wonder what happened to the other bed? I wonder where Rick is? Is this really my room? Didn’t I have stuff like clothes and shoes in the room?

My brain is starting to make noises about waking up and I start to take inventory. Several things seem off. I want to lie back down in the bed but it is wet and gross. Apparently, I was sweating pretty badly in my sleep. Even the pillow is soaked in sweat. I drag the bedspread up over the bed and flip the pillow over and lie down. I look around the room and I’m sure this is not my room. There is nothing in the room except me and the generic hotel furniture.

I wonder where I am? What can I remember about last night? How did I get here? Where are my clothes? Oh shit! Where is my money?

I have no clothes, no money, no identification and no idea where I am. Everything is going per plan – my No-plan Plan. Fail to plan; plan to fail. I have been in tougher spots in my life but I can’t remember a time when I had less to work with.

I wish my head would stop pounding. Don’t panic. Do not panic. You’ll think of something. Take your time. You can figure this out. Think Victor. Figure out what time it is and what day it is.

There is a clock on the nightstand. I can see the red glow where the numbers are supposed to be but I can’t make out the numbers. I grab the clock and pull it close to my face and try to concentrate. I rub my eyes and try to focus. I’m in bad shape. Anxious and on the verge of panic, I grab the phone and press a button I hope is zero. The front desk answers and for the first time something makes sense and works the way I think it should. I ask what time it is and my words are slurred and I am embarrassed by my inability to speak. I ask her if she means 5:30 in the evening. She laughs and responds yes.

“Are you all right?”

Good question. I have been wondering that myself. I wonder how I am supposed to answer this lady. Tell the truth and hope she can help me? Just say fine?

“I am a little hung over…Can I ask a dumb question?”

“Sure.”

“What motel is this and who does this room belong to?”

“Spirit Mountain Lodge; Is this Victor Shaw?”

“This isn’t my room…my stuff is missing and this room has only one bed.”

“Yes it is a single king room.”

“When I got here we had a room with two twin beds.”

“The computer shows you checking in yesterday and leaving this morning in a single king room. You are in the right room.”

“I have been here for five days. Why would you put me in a different room?”

“Mr. Shaw, are you sure you are okay?”

“Like I said, my head hurts and I am a little bit confused, but mostly I am just hung over.”

“The maid said she was unable to wake you and was concerned about you. I tried calling your room several times and you never answered. We were beginning to worry about you.”

“I am going to be fine. I just can’t remember anything about the last 24 hours of my life.”

“How can we help you?”

“I need to find my stuff.”

“What is missing?”

“Everything is missing; my clothes, my wallet, my suitcase, my friend and my money.”

“Was your friend staying in your room with you last night?”

“I do not know; I was saying we have been staying in this hotel all week in a room with two beds and then this morning I wake up in a room with just one bed and all my stuff is gone.”

“What is your friends’ name?”

“Rick Russell”

“I have a Richard Russell in the hotel.”

“What room is he in?”

“I am sorry I can’t tell you that information; would you like me to connect you to his room?”

“Sure.”

Ring, ring, ring and no answer.

Rick and I are in the same hotel just in different rooms. Did I bring somebody back from the bar with me last night? Did I get robbed? Hey I have television in the room.

I turn the television on and try to find a few more pieces of the world I know. I wander into the bathroom and pour a glass of water in a plastic cup. The water tastes terrible but it is all I have. My mouth tastes like something died in it. I try to rinse it out with the water. I am not happy with the taste and texture of my mouth. I take the towel and try to wipe out the inside of my mouth. I am scraping my teeth clean with the towel and wondering about luxuries such as mouthwash and tooth paste.

I sip my cup of tap water and suddenly my stomach wants no part of that water. I move toward the toilet and realize how unstable I am. I drop to my knees and embrace the porcelain as I return the cup of water I just drank. The dry heaves last for only a few minutes but each and every one is painful. I blow my nose and rinse my mouth out and realize what a horrible smell and taste stomach bile leaves after puking.

The noise of the television hurts my head and my eyes won’t focus well enough to actually watch the television. I turn to the evening news and turn the volume down. Shortly after hearing about an earthquake in the Middle East I must have drifted off.

BAM! BAM! BAM! I am startled from my sleep by a knock at the door. I get to my feet and realize I am still starkers. I head toward the door and wish I could see through the peep hole.

“Who is it?”

“Rodney”

“Rodney who?”

“I am one of the dealers; I have your clothes.”

I open the door a crack in all my fat naked glory and sure enough the man has clothes for me. All folded and freshly washed with a bag of accessories. I open the door wide and welcome my new friend into the room.

Please tell me I didn’t bring this guy home from the bar last night. I recognize him and he is a dealer. How did he get my stuff?

I slip the underwear on and shake his hand and thank him for bringing me clothes. I confess that I have no memory of last night. He tells me the obvious part of the story; I got really drunk last night at the bar. He came in the bar after his shift and I was already blotto. He decided to give me a ride back to the hotel but I passed out in the car and he had no idea what room I was in and none of the rooms were registered to me. He just rented this room and put me to bed in here. He took all of my clothes because I had puked on everything, including the inside of his car.

I am ashamed of the condition I am in. I am ashamed of my behavior from the night before. I have no way to know how bad I really was, but I trust Rodney when he says I was a wreck. I hate that I made other people miserable and puked all over a guys car that was trying to do a good deed. I feel like crap but I am very lucky that things have worked out as well as they have. All in all it was a way better outcome than I deserved.

I have to make the walk of shame and rejoin my friends. Somehow, nobody can provide the whole story of what happened that night. I have lost hours out of my life, and I will never be able to fill in the blank.

I thought I was living the good life of playing and partying large with all of my friends. Yet, when things went too far it was the kindness of a complete stranger who saw fit to take care of me. Luckily, my life fell into the hands of a good man that was barely an acquaintance, who stepped up and made sure that I survived.

I thought I was the greatest guy in the world, having the best time possible, and just a few short hours later I was a helpless mass of humanity just trying to get one more breath. The fall was dramatic and the landing at rock bottom was painful. Somehow, I lived through it and made the necessary life changes.

The brain cells are gone; sacrificed to the Alcohol Gods to learn a lesson. I have a problem. I am an alcoholic. I do not need to drink.

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3 Responses to “Falling From Grace”

  1. Thomas DeArth Says:

    Ah, the spoils of youth!

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