Scott stood, leaning against the wall, looking out the window, a cup of coffee gripped firmly in both hands to lessen the tremor . He watched as the rivulets of rain carved a crooked path down the window panes, his reflection peeking through the glass as if waiting to get in. Another gloomy day, offering nothing more than a feeling of depression. A feeling that he had come here to escape.
He had arrived almost a week ago and during much of that time, it had rained. Not unusual for this time of year, but he had never paid that much attention to the weather. Like now, his mind was usually preoccupied. Retreating to this cabin hadn’t changed that.
He strolled across the room and plopped into the recliner, aiming the remote at the TV, impatiently flipping through one channel after another, trying to find something, anything to amuse him, to capture his mind and stop it from thinking. His body was like a spring, unable to sit still, constantly moving without purpose. He felt lost and his moods changed rapidly. Most of the time he was irritable, argumentative, and short of patience. His boss had told him he wanted him to take some time off to unwind. “You’ve been working too hard” he had said and “it is taking a toll on your performance.” He had hoped the seclusion of the woods would be a catalyst to change that, but so far, it wasn’t working. His life still weighed heavily upon him. He had not escaped after all. He had brought his yesterdays with him.
Scott was a criminal lawyer and a damned good one. Specializing in white-collar crime, he had built a reputation as a formidable adversary. Many of his clients had enjoyed out of court settlements simply because their legal representatives did not want to face him in court. And, of course, it was where the money was. He derived a lot of satisfaction from draining the corporate coffers. One could say he was driven. He had long-held that the only thing that mattered was scaling the mountain and reaching the pinnacle of his profession. That is what drove him, pushed him, was the benchmark of his worth. If he rode the Carousel long enough, and well enough, he would catch the brass ring. One could say that he had, in fact arrived.
“Arrived” he thought. “Arrived where?” He rolled the cliché over in his mind. He had always subconsciously thought of success as a destination.
“Welcome to Success sir. May I take your bags? I hope you enjoy your stay.”
In retrospect, he thought, he had indeed achieved a degree of success. Everything he had striven for, dedicated himself to accomplishing, had come to pass. At thirty-five, one could say he had it all and, until a few months ago, he would have agreed. That would have been before he met Molly.
He remembered when they had been introduced. He had been at a cocktail party, or company function, as they were called in the industry. A chance to corral the clients in a casual surrounding. Little more than another business meeting disguised as pleasure. He had been to many and they were all the same. Catered canapes, a rented bartender dispensing pricey bourbons and scotches. Wives, extravagantly dressed, making small talk among themselves while their husbands ignored them in favor of the perspective or influential customer.
He had strolled over to the bar for a refill when he was joined by Bert Rothman, the CEO of a very successful electronics company. Bert was the loud, boisterous type and could also be very abrasive. He had been represented by Scott’s firm since his start-up and, in fact, Scott had represented his interests in court on a couple of occasions. He was not particularly pleased to be collared by Bert, but it was his job to stroke the customers, so he put on his winning smile and grasped Bert’s hand.
“Bert” he said pleasantly. “You must be staying out of trouble. How am I ever going to retire if you don’t throw a few bucks my way?”
Bert chuckled and said “Nice suit. Did I buy that? What have you been up to? You look like shit.”
“Nice to see you too Bert. I guess it’s a combination of too much work and not enough hours” Scott replied as he turned to the bartender and nodded for him to pour another.
“You better take it easy on that stuff. It can kill you.” Bert commented.
“I only use it for medicinal purposes” Scott said jokingly. “It helps me relax.”
If you just want to relax, try one of these” Bert said, removing a small plastic bag with three capsules from his pocket.
“Thanks, but no thanks” Scott asked. “I’m not into the drug thing.”
“These won’t hurt you. It’s just a little ecstasy. Kids use it all the time. Just takes the edge off is all and you won’t have a hangover in the morning. Go on, take them.”
Reluctantly, Scott took them and stuck them in his pocket. It was easier to accept them then is was to argue with Bert. “Thanks” he said. “Maybe I will give them a try”.
“Yeah, do that. You might even turn into a nice guy.” If you need more, let me know. I can put you in touch”. With that, Bert clapped him on the shoulder and moved off into the room.
A few weeks later, after a particularly trying day in court, Scott pulled into the parking garage of his apartment building. All he wanted to do was pour himself a large drink, take a shower, and relax. He had a brief to write, but it would have to wait. He had had enough for one day. When he reached his apartment, he threw his keys on the hall table, next to the little plastic bag, right where it had been since the night of the party. He proceeded to the bathroom and took a long hot shower before returning to the living room. As he started to pour himself a drink, he once again thought about the capsules. He had heard of ecstasy and as far as he knew, it was a recreational drug. Molly it was called. He put down the liquor carafe, walked over to the hall table and picked up the little bag. “Why not” he thought. “What do I have to lose. If they help me relax, I win. If not, I’m no worse off then I am now.” And so it began.
It wasn’t too long before Scott fell in love with Molly. He remembers calling Bert and asking for his contact. Since then he had become a regular customer. Unlike stronger drugs, he always felt in control when using Molly, and the pressure under which he normally operated became a lot more bearable. Each hit lasted about six or seven hours, a little more if he took it with a couple of glasses of scotch, and he loved the feeling. Soon he was using it every night and weekends. That concerned him a little, but he told himself he could stop any time he wanted to. .
He tried to remember when he first started to notice the change. It was probably on the trip he made to Boston. He had a court date on Friday and decided to stay the weekend and take in a Celtics game. He started with a hit Friday night and never left the room until he left for Logan Airport on Sunday afternoon. The weekend was kind of a blur. He had gone through his entire stash of ecstasy by Saturday night. Without a source to restock, Sunday was spent getting straight. That’s when the depression settled in. He became listless, despondent, and brooding. Any little thing that went wrong made him irritable. A new Scott emerged.
Somewhere along the line, he said goodbye to Molly when she didn’t bring him the satisfaction he craved. His source suggested something a little stronger. Reluctantly, he agreed. Soon, he found his need increasing. He couldn’t wait for the evening when he would return to his apartment. Soon, he realized, he was unable to go without them. He lived for it. Nothing was more important.
So here he was. A shadow of who he had been even just months ago. Disheveled, unkempt, and alone. He knew he was throwing everything away, but somehow, it just didn’t matter enough anymore. He just wasn’t strong enough to kill the beast inside him.
He had refrained from using for three or was it four days. During that time he had spent hours in bed wrapped in blankets, trying to eliminate the chills that racked his body. He had eaten little and vomited a lot. Even now, he could feel the coffee roiling in his stomach. As he sat there, the shakes became a little more aggressive and he felt the cold sweats begin again. He rose and walked to the kitchen and poured himself a tumbler of scotch, hoping it would help. He took a large pull and almost immediately threw it up. In disgust, he smashed the glass in the sink and began pacing again.
He knew he was losing the fight. His will was waning. He couldn’t do it. He should have known better than to think he could go cold turkey. He was in a downward spiral heading for a crash. And when that happened, it would be over. It would cost him his job at a minimum and probably most of what he had built. Maybe everything. No, he had to beat this. He couldn’t let anyone find out. What if his boss already suspected? No , he couldn’t face that. He was at a crossroads. He had to decide which way to go.
The thought had been in the back of his mind off and on for some time now. He had never really accepted it up until now. But today, he had acknowledged it, and now, embraced it. It all became so clear. Returning to the living room he grabbed his keys from the table. Exiting the cabin, he walked to his car, oblivious to the torrential rain. He opened his trunk and removed his briefcase and slowly returned to the house. Opening the case, he removed the rubber strap, the spoon, the packet of white powder, and the case that contained the syringes. Moving to the kitchen he turned on the gas burner.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, he strapped his arm and inserted the needle, slowly injecting the warm liquid, feeling the effects almost immediately. Laying back on his bed, he began to relax and let the drug take over. Soon he felt himself drifting, the room retreating. He felt no fear, just peace. He saw colors. Bright swirling colors. And then, through the colors came a vision, faint at first then gaining in intensity. He saw himself, as a boy atop a gaily painted horse, laughing, reaching, straining, trying to catch a brass ring……..