Kevin Quigg

Posted on November 14, 2011

1


Wrecked

I remember thinking that he was not seeing me. He was looking right at me, but who knows what he saw? Eyes unfocused and wide, pupils so dilated I could see the black from where I stood in the glare thrown from the one remaining headlight telling him everything was going to be OK, it was going to be all right, fine, hang on, help is coming, hear the sirens?

But he wasn’t fine. He blinked rapidly and then his eyes closed and his head dipped to the steering wheel which was jammed against his chest.

I like to think he was reliving a happy moment from his life. His wedding day. His wedding night. The birth of his first son. I like to think he died happy and unknowing of what happened.

The sirens drew closer and I considered running away. But I could barely walk much less run. Or drive.

But I had been driving.

The cops swept me aside as the paramedics worked on him and I admitted it all to stern, chiseled faces that told me about my right to remain silent. The night that went so wrong. A fight with my girlfriend, storming off, drinking at the club, buying the dancers shots and getting lap dances and then more shots. I talked and talked and told them that with my money gone, I was no longer able to buy drinks or dances, so I left. I complained to them that with no money remaining for the week, I’d be packing a shitty lunch to work every day. But as I was driving home I had been thinking it was money well spent, still-angry-just-because. Then I shot through the red light.

Sirens off but emergency lights cutting the night, their notebooks flashed white, red, and blue as their pens scribbled. A shitty lunch and lack of cash for the week were no longer an issue as the cuffs drew tight.

I sat in a corner trying to sleep and just kept quiet despite all the chatter. The cell grew more crowded through that night. I said nothing as everyone proclaimed their innocence. Kept my eyes shut as challenges were issued. I refused to stand and pee and held tight.

My borrowed wool suit was too tight and too hot for a July trial. In court, in front of a crying widow and two sad little boys, I admitted my guilt. My lawyer fought to get me less time. But, underage drunk driver kills Bob McDougal, a beloved 40 year old family man, was not a fair fight and I went to prison. Bob’s family sued me, my family, and the strip club; they don’t have to worry about money anymore. My parents laughed about the lawsuit since I was eighteen, but then were angry when they found out they had to pay for a lawyer.

You can get drugs and booze in prison, but they cost. And the more you need the more the cost continues to rise. I was the youngest and smallest on the cellblock and with everything happening I needed to get away even if it was artificial. Forget for a time. I paid for my drugs and booze with everything I had and no matter what I do, I can’t forget.

My wife knows my story. When we met I told her I drink to forget and she laughed like it was such a great joke and she was fine and right there with me as we drank together. Now, however, not so much. Through the Grace of God I got sober five years ago. Sandra came to a few meetings with me back when I used to go, but then she stopped. And I tapered off. But, One Day At A Time I have struggled to get here to this night. God helped me get sober, but he did not help me forget. Forgetting is something I have to do on my own. God helps those that help themselves

Sandra kept drinking. She still drinks. She used to complain that I wasn’t fun anymore. But that stopped and now I know she’s seeing another guy. Furtive phone calls and hasty texting and excuses for a weekend away with a friend who I see at the market the next day while Sandra tells me of everything they were doing. But I say nothing. I keep my knowledge of her affair hidden. I keep it down. If I let myself feel that heartbreak, then I don’t know what will come out of me.

And every day I see Bob’s eyes. Those black, faraway eyes. Unfocused and looking at me but not seeing me. The front end of his car smashed in. The bulge in the windshield where his head struck so hard it cracked his skull. And ended his life. And I know If I let myself feel anything I will feel everything and I can’t handle that. I can’t. So, no more feelings.

It’s 11 pm on a Monday night and Sandra’s not home. She thinks I’ll be asleep when she gets home, and that she will lie to me about what time she got in. But I have trouble sleeping. In jail it was difficult to sleep. After jail it was nightmares about still being there and as I grow older it gets harder to sleep because I realize what I took. I ruined Bob’s family, his children. I ruined so many lives.

My girlfriend at the time of the accident tried to be supportive. She came to court with me. She kissed me when I was taken away, and wrote a nice letter saying goodbye when she found a new guy.

Sitting here at the kitchen table knowing that my wife has found a new guy, I wait for another goodbye.

Sandra had back surgery and thinks she used all her OxyContin. She never followed the proper dosage so she never knew how many pills there were supposed to be. So, when she had her prescription refilled I would take one and hide it. On the table in front of me I have three white 10 mg OxyContin pills and a bottle of cheap vodka that I found hidden in the den along with some orange juice from the fridge. I know if I crush the three pills and have a few drinks, I will forget everything.

Sobriety clears up your mind and sharpens your thinking. I don’t know if for me that was the best option. The past five years I have realized with shocking clarity that all of the drugs and the booze I consumed were about forgetting everything and that it wasn’t just a joke to spout off when meeting someone new.

Tonight is about remembering, because at midnight, I work on forgetting again. I can’t deal with the memories of the eyes. I don’t want to deal with my wife and her ways. I figure if I go back to the way I was when we met, maybe Sandra and I can be together and things could go back to the way they were.

At midnight I am raising a glass to Bob. I think a screwdriver is the right drink, since I stuck it to him and his family. And to myself.

I have the Oxy. Suicide is the big option, but I know I’m not brave enough for that. I know I will chicken out and put the pills back in their hiding spot. I will go on. And on. And on. A coward dying daily rather than ending it. I will settle for the slow method of suicide rather than the quick end the Oxy would provide. I don’t know what it is I’m looking for. Being Normal? Happiness? Redemption? At this point I will settle for just being. I will settle for not feeling this pain, for not remembering all of my actions.

But if I chicken out, I will keep the pills well hidden. Addicts know to look for money, booze, drugs and know how to search and I don’t want Sandra finding them. The pills are my insurance plan.

At midnight I will drink to the man I killed. And if I grow brave enough, I will apologize to Bob in person for my actions. I will make amends.

It’s my birthday and I will be officially 41, older than Bob ever got to be.

***

Kevin Quigg lives in the Philadelphia area and has been published in Microhorror, Barnstorming, and Flashes in the Dark.

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