Arriving at work, I stopped outside of the building to sniff my breath. The rum smell was toxic. Nausea swelled in my stomach, and I considered leaving.
“Screw it. I am here, what are they going to do, fire me?”
I pushed the door open and entered the lobby. Slowly, I made my way up the stairs to our office. As I walked into the office, I met my first-line supervisor. He grabbed me by my collar and shoved me into the wall.
“Jesus, Freeman! You smell like a Puerto Rican brewery! Get outside and try to sober up before we have formation!”
I stood on the snowy basketball court and shivered, as I considered if my drunkenness would end my career. My superiors and peers joined me on the court.
The shuffle of feet resounded between the barracks. My attempt to snap to attention caused me to stumble. Snickers sounded from my left, and I tried to regain my balance.
“We’ve got a ten-mile run to start off the day,” the First Sergeant bellowed, “upon our return you will verify your Social Security number, your insurance, and your emergency contact. Make sure you have your ID card and dog tags on you.”
The company stretched out and prepared for the run. My mind kept drifting to my wife saying she no longer loved me. What had I done to deserve such disdain?
“Freeman, you run rear road guard. You wanted to show up to work drunk, you will pay for it. Take your drunk butt back there, and you had better not puke the entire run.”
We headed out and the paceman started us off at a dead sprint. I could sense the rum wanted to come out, however, I choked it down and kept my attention focused on the mountain. I gulped the cold mountain air and focused on the swell of anger that threatened to trigger an eruption.
Somehow, I managed to complete the run and not vomit. After our return, I stood at the back of formation, stretched out, and then hurled my empty stomach contents onto the ground. My supervisor walked over and stared at me in disgust.
“You better have a dang good reason to show up to work like this. Tell me what is going on!”
I looked up at my supervisor and laughed. Dribbles of rum hung from the corners of my mouth, and I prepared to vomit again. I bent over to puke, when he slammed his hand down on my back.
“Answer me Sergeant! Why are you embarrassing all of us this morning?”
My temper exploded. I shot up and got in his face and bellowed:
“MY WIFE WANTS A DIVORCE! IS THAT ENOUGH OF A REASON TO GET DRUNK? DO YOU THINK I GIVE A CRAP ABOUT EMBARRASSING YOU OR MYSELF, WHEN MY WIFE TELLS ME SHE HAS GUYS LINED UP TO REPLACE ME?”
He stared at me, still in disgust but also with something that resembled pity. Tears streamed down my face as people turned to face us and see what was happening on the court. He nodded, and I wiped my tears away and stood at parade rest.
“You need help Freeman. Jesus, religion, psychology, something. You can’t show up to work dead drunk and lead soldiers. Grab your crap and follow me. I’ll walk you through, then take your drunk butt home and sober up. Come back to work tomorrow.”
I verified my information and headed to my truck. The bright sunlight caused my head to pound, and I drove slowly back to my house to rest. I pressed the garage door button and waited for the door to lift. My wife wasn’t home.
“Good, I need a shower and several hours of uninterrupted sleep. Then maybe, I can convince her that divorce is not the answer to our issues.”
The hot water soaked into my bones and made me feel better. I changed into shorts and lied down on my futon. I fell into restless slumber. My nightmares flooded my subconscious mind, and once again, I am left with nothing but horror from my time in hell.
Finally, I dozed off into sound sleep only to be awakened by the sound of the garage door being opened. I heard the rustle of bags and the patter of feet. I slipped into a shirt and headed downstairs to help bring in the groceries.
“What are you doing home? Did you bring the divorce papers?”
“No, I didn’t bring the papers. I was hoping that you and I could discuss this like rational human beings. Perhaps, divorce is not the answer to our issues. Why don’t we try marriage counseling?”
The veins in her neck pulsed out a rhythm of anger and violence. Her voice grew quiet with anger, and her eyes narrowed as if she could look right through me.
“You want to talk? I got a phone call saying you showed up to work drunk this morning. They also told me that you need serious psychological help. You are a train wreck! Why would me and the kids stay with you? Get the paperwork completed and let’s get this over with!”
My mouth agape, I searched for words to calm my spouse. I ran my hand over my face and tried to compose myself.
“Don’t do it, keep your cool. Don’t lose it in front of your daughters.”
“Look, I don’t want a divorce. We can go to marriage counseling. I will try to do better. I don’t want my daughters to have to grow up without their father.”
“I DON’T NEED COUNSELING! YOU ARE THE ISSUE! IF YOU GET HELP, WE ARE GONE! IF YOU DON’T, IT IS NO LONGER MY ISSUE! FATHER? YOU ARE A DRUNK! YOU HAVEN’T BEEN A DAD TO THESE KIDS SINCE YOU WENT TO WAR. LEAVE US ALONE.”
She grabbed my daughter’s hand and stormed out of the garage. She slammed the door and went upstairs to her bedroom. I finished unloading the vehicle and put the groceries away. Once I finished putting the groceries away, I walked up the stairs to my room and poured myself a drink.
Alone in the dark, I drank myself into unconsciousness.