The best deal was sleep

The fourth beer broke my chain of thought and I polished it off in one long gulp. What a great invention the fridge was. I was safe and satisfied as the liquid surged through me and calmed my mind and body. Mother’s milk with a 5.5 percent alcohol content. My very own prescription, repeated whenever I felt the need. I even had my own barometer of how I felt. When I woke up this morning I would be at about two out of 10. Now I think I had hit about five. The best deal was sleep. It gave me a six or seven. The average? Probably about four. Bluechew

This part of the day was my best time, alone in the office for at least an hour. In my bedroom I was always asleep or feeling bad. Here, after a few drinks I could sit back and relax with no pressure. No contact with people meant no hassles. No questions and no answers to be given. Only me, my thoughts and my beers.All that would change at 8am as the day kicked into life. On a busy day a number of people could pass through the doors. For weeks I had been unable to cope with demands and requests that had not been a problem before. Paranoia had crept into my psyche and I could feel people looking through me. To those who had known me for some time I must have been a real shock. The downfall of a respectable and well-known local businessman before their very eyes.Mary and I had met in 1992 and developed a good relationship. We appeared busy every day but I had zero interest in it. I found more solace from the beer in my hand and those moments when I was alone with my thoughts. Those times gave me my lift in life.

The background noises in the house seemed to intensify and as usual I was beginning to feel that the walls were closing in on me. There was half a beer left and I lit another smoke. I was more or less sure that I had talked to Mary about going out to get some clothes for the hospital for my grand entrance. I had worn out all my clothes. I had also developed severe fears about washing them, as well as myself, and the drinking problem had not made that any easier to treat.I looked like death yet still, something deep inside wanted me to be well thought of. I stood up very slowly. “I’m off to the shops. I’ll see you later.” Much to my relief there was no answer and I took that as approval. Maybe it was the silent prayer from everybody in the room that this would be my last excursion. Or maybe a terrible weariness that prevented any meaningful reply. Whatever, I took this as my cue and headed for the garage and the car.

They had tried absolutely everything to encourage me not to drive but I had held out to the end on this issue. The car was my passport to a relative freedom. It enabled me to go out and buy my beers and then pick my spot to drink them. Drunk or not, I realised the potential terrible consequences of my drinking and driving. I knew only too well what risks I was taking. To this day I carried the scars and old wounds resulting from the battle between drinking and motor vehicles. As a young man I had been lucky and yet I still pushed my luck. To me it was a calculated risk. I had long ago reasoned that if it was a choice between risking my life and that of others, and not being able to get my ‘fix’, then there was no choice. Very selfish, uncaring logic, but for me, as I was now, a total necessity. I believed that I could drive reasonably well, even under the influence.Priority number one was to get to a bottle store and buy some pots. Even after a few minutes without a drink I could feel the nerves calling out for some liquid. Bastards, they never left me alone. There was a time when I could go for hours without a drink but that was history.