The Dream

My dad was an alcoholic. Is an alcoholic. Was and has been an alcoholic all my life. He lives in another state, far away from any relatives, from anyone who might question his lifestyle or call matters to his attention that he doesn’t want to deal with. He’s alone. He’s not in good health. He drinks too much. Heavily. He has strange accidents that we’re sure are all alcohol-related. My siblings and I worry about him. He’s not yet old enough or in bad enough shape that we have to tend to him. So at this point we can just be angry with him and anxious about what the future holds.

I visited him recently for a couple of days. He sipped whiskey the entire time I sat on his couch, listening to him tell stories, stories I’ve heard a dozen times over the years. I know he was drinking before I arrived at his home and that he’d continue long after I returned to my motel room. Yet he could carry on a conversation. His sense of humor was intact. Appropriate. Well, as appropriate as it gets with him. Was he drunk? He had to be. It amazed me that he could drink whiskey all day long and still pass for sober.

Tonight I didn’t feel very well. Joey and I were going to go out to dinner. Sushi. I was looking forward to it. But, alas, my stomach was bothering me a little and I had no energy. I would not have been good company. So I called and let him know that I was just going to lie in bed, that I was in for the night. Joey made plans to go to his friend Bill’s house instead. In the back of my mind, I was concerned about that. I like Bill. But I kept picturing Joey over there, drinking, and maybe drinking too much.

But really, I had no idea what Joey was doing at Bill’s. For all I knew, maybe he wasn’t drinking at all. I do know that he was texting me, checking on me, making sure I was okay. He’s like that. Sweet and caring and attentive. He’s a good guy.

We’re up on Glade Park, a small community on the Monument above our city. It’s a little remote, a ways out there. We’re in a house. I think its Joey’s house. Joey is cooking in the kitchen. He likes to cook. This house is big and I can’t see what he’s doing, but I hear him shuffling around and making cooking noises. He asked me if I wanted to eat dinner with him, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel very well. So I’m in the other room, working on the computer. Funny that the computer desk looks just like mine at home and that the window behind the desk is cloaked in the same plaid curtains that are blocking the bright western sun trying to force its way in through the window behind the desk at my house.

Joey comes from the kitchen. He’s holding a roast of some sort. It’s in a glass pan. I see the slightest wobble as he squeezes through the doorway. He asks again. “Are you sure you don’t want to eat with me? You doing okay?” I thank him, tell him I’d love to, but that I have no appetite.

Next thing I know, there are voices in the kitchen. Joey’s and someone else’s. Is that Debbie’s voice? Debbie, my colleague? It is. I guess he invited her over to share the meal since I wouldn’t. Is he upset with me? Trying to make me jealous? How does he even know Debbie? They are laughing and having a great time. I am feeling confused and hurt. Was Joey feeling hurt earlier?

Joey is running toward me. He is carrying a giant, scorching roast in his bare hands, his arms straight out in front of his body, slightly above his head. I see his face in the rectangle made by his two arms, the roast, and his chest. There is so much fear in his eyes. The roast is steaming, burning, almost flaming. It has melted into his hands so that he cannot let go of it. In one sudden and awkward motion, he heaves the roast from his hands and his hands are clearly charred. And scarred.

The roast rolls toward me, past me, like a well-flung black bowling ball. It goes underneath the computer desk which looks just like my computer desk at my house and comes to rest at the bottom of the curtains that look just like the curtains in my home. There is an instant burst of flames. I kick the roast and it seems to suddenly cool. I turn my attention to the flaming curtains. I beat them against the wall until they are no longer on fire.

It’s too quiet. I turn. I see Joey’s legs, but nothing else. He is in a swivel chair and the chair is turned slightly away from me, masking his upper body and face from my view. I run to him. His head is in his hands. “Joey? Joey? Are you okay? What happened anyway?” I don’t ask about Debbie. Her voice and presence is no longer there. Was it ever?

Joey lifts his face from his hands. My dad stares back at me. I see in his eyes how frightened he is. How old and tired and lonely he is. He’s been fighting the alcohol for so long. Always giving in. Always losing. “Dad? Dad! Are you okay?” He shakes his head, unable to speak. Too drunk. Too bewildered. “Do you want some help?” He better say yes. I want help. I don’t know what to do with him. Where am I and what am I doing here anyway? What is he doing here? The curtains are still smoldering. The roast looks like it could come back to life at any moment.

He nods.

“Yes? Yes, you do?” He nods again. Tears well up in his eyes. “Is it okay if I call for help?”

I go to the phone. It’s a phone from way back when, from my childhood, attached to the wall, with a long tangled up curly phone cord. I dial 911. I think about how we’re up here on Glade Park, far away from friends, help, reality. I start to tell the story, from the beginning, not a single detail left out. The ear on the other end listens while the ambulance makes the long trip to us.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. theclocktowersunset
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 10:20:32

    Okay, you got me. How does it end? That is, if you don’t mind.

    Reply

  2. Randee
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 12:47:19

    It really was just a dream. Joey was a new guy I was dating and I was a bit concerned about his drinking, initially, so he was appearing in my dream about my alcoholic father (their faces trading bodies, Joey having a strange accident like my father sometimes does). My dad hasn’t really let us help him over the years.

    Reply

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