What Do I Miss?


It was just about seven years ago that Chuck and I made our attempt to duplicate “Leaving Las Vegas”. There was plenty of booze and more pain than we thought either of us deserved. There was a mad doctor in Glenwood Springs; a frustrated probation officer in Montrose; family, friends, enemies and all forces of good and evil alike combined to fight the denial that both Chuck and I had.
Might have been luckier for us if I’d driven the old Dodge D-50 truck off the edge of the Earth at Westwater but we had more to live for than other’s fears of our destructive living. The only things we had to fear were being alive and getting honest with ourselves. So we left the plateau where it was and made it back to town for one last stab at killing all the pain. In the Big Book it says that:

“Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship
and approval. Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful
awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration,

We might have wanted convincing evidence that we were different – that we could overcome our selfishness with more insanity but, that’s not what happened. It never worked before and wouldn’t work this time either. Neither of us was convinced of the futility that comes from wasting our lives on that which destroys mind, body and eventually any hope for tomorrow. Now comes the “but”. I’m sure Chuck’s problems seemed insurmountable. But what about me! Didn’t I deserve a chance to display my mountain of troubles for, at the very least, a glance or maybe even a change? But why worry about any of that when the room was paid for and there was all the booze around that I could guzzle with or without hands.

If the reader can understand that then there’s more to be revealed from this story. What we really suffer from and in is a lack of the ability to think straight. My excuse is the inalienable right I have to be smarter than that. I loved to be called precocious. Chuck substantiated that for me. He understood my constant need for the attention I could get by dumping a few drinks into me. He could afford that much of a sacrifice but I had nothing to give back. I was only there to take it all. Chuck, Charlie Brown and I made a great wrecking crew when I directed the show. So we made our way back from the big city to our respective dungeons to await further instruction from the terrorists in our heads.

Do not ask yet what there is to miss about this for, there is still something missing even as I write. Chuck was staying at his ex’s place; living on the floor in constant physical pain. I don’t remember where Charlie Brown was but he appeared shortly after we came back from our trip. I had been living in the D-50 at Lowrider’s yard for almost a year. Nearly everyday one or the other would show up on schedule with a plan that meant nothing to me except another drink and another drunk. That’s right when I discovered I was eligible for unemployment and began my final attempt to buy my way out.

A guy can’t get too far without at least a little self-worth. Funny that money can do that when all else fails. When Chuck, Charlie Brown and Mike Pruden all told me not to do what I did next the inevitable beginning of the end started. I honestly didn’t want to kill anybody including myself but something had to happen because sanity was becoming a non-existent commodity. There was not much more damage left to do here so off I headed for the “Rez”. Took me three tries across the river before they finally spotted me. I went quietly enough. Charlie Brown rang up my deficits quite succinctly. Chuck shrugged and went back to his spot on the floor. Mikie waited for them to let me out of jail.

Chuck took me to the alcohol evaluation a month or so later. I’d been up all night drinking Irish whiskey and still had a couple of snorts left in the bottle I left on the floor of Chuck’s minvan in my backpack. While I was master-minding my escape from reality at the courthouse I only hoped Chuck didn’t get into the bottle. What I hadn’t planned on was two things. First of all the evaluator wasn’t going to let me go back to my dungeon without a major sacrifice. I tired to tell her I was through drinking and driving. I think I said something like I was finished driving. She didn’t buy that. Secondly, Chuck had just been through a similar experience with someone who would become instumental in both our salvations. But I didn’t know that nor did I care at the time. I spent the rest of that afternoon staring at that bottle and the two full cans of beer I had left in my dungeon.

Within the next two months Chuck got sober and stayed that way until he died three years ago. I stopped drinking for nearly seven months. Chuck stopped by less frequently after I plunged into work. I even began to ignore him. Charlie Brown left me alone. Mikie Pruden packed up and went back to Oregon. I got drunk again and stayed that way until the middle of November 2002. I was fifty years old but hadn’t bothered to grow up yet. And now here’s what I miss. All of the characters mentioned above and many of those mentioned as friends, enemies and forces of good and evil could not save me from myself. When, however, I saw the change that came over Chuck after his surrender, I too wanted some relief. In the beginning I made a friend. In the end I still have one.

Three years ago this coming Friday, Chuck left us to finish the work he started here in Montrose. I buried my brother, Bob, eighteens years ago this coming new year. I buried Jack Murray a couple of months ago. When I say “I” it means that we have done the best we could do with what God gave us. He gave us each other and I miss them. For Chuck I give back the fellowship he created through great sacrifice in Olathe. For my brother I give back longing for the truth and the justice ascribed to mankind through obedience. To Jack I give the joy of having lived in a day and time when most everything has been revealed. There’s only one more thing I’d like to have back for Jack but it hasn’t happened yet. I hope he’s enjoying the National League Championship Series between the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. I know I do.

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