Friday, December 5, 2014

Old Mike Hits Bottom - Mike Miner: CriMemoir

Getting on to the end of the year, kids. Office parties. Family gatherings. Police check points. Good time to share this cautionary, confessional CriMemoir from Mike Miner. If you don't know Mike's name, you haven't been paying attention. His latest novel, Prodigal Sons, is out now from All Due Respect Books and his short fiction has appeared in all the places you'd be looking.

Old Mike Hits Bottom - A CriMemoir by Mike Miner

I hit bottom in the Beverly Hills Police Department on January 28th, 2001. The morning after my last night on the town. My last hangover. It was a hell of a night. What I remember of it anyway. And it was a hell of a hangover.

This was Old Mike. He has since retired. My memories of that morning are vivid. That familiar sensation, fuzzy brained, but certain that I was in big trouble and in no particular hurry to find out exactly how much.

Jail. Again.

Snapshots of the night before. A blur of bars up and down Sunset Boulevard. The Skybar at the Mondrian, The House of Blues, the VIP Lounge at the Sunset Room. Velvet ropes, top shelf liquor. Old Mike knew how to have a good time.

Other memories, less pleasant.

My BMW bouncing over a curb. The street turning into lawn, then a wide staircase.
A cop's flashlight in my face.

Jail. Again.

I knew the drill by now. Forward and backward.

This was my third DUI. Second within the past year. I remember because my probation had just ended on the last one.

As the police cruiser pulled away, with me handcuffed in the back seat, I considered the likely consequences.

Fines. Lawyers. Probation. Suspended license. Court ordered rehab. Shit. Shit. SHIT.

And worst of all, the wrath of my lovely wife.

I did not realize yet that there was mandatory jail time for a man in my situation. Ten days in Twin Towers county jail downtown. My wife will be pregnant at the time. But that's another story.

This is about me hitting bottom. I hadn't yet, not quite.

First, I needed to get processed out. They gave me back my watch, my shoes, my wedding ring. For some reason they needed another thumb print even though they took all my prints the night before.

I made bail, apparently.

I knew who paid it. Again.

I was free to go, they told me. She was waiting in the lobby. I walked down a lonely hallway, up a staircase, kept company by the sound of my footsteps and my own guilty thoughts. The door to the lobby had a window in it and I saw my pathetic reflection and thought, how on earth could anyone be here, ready to pick me up and take me home again. I looked at myself and wondered, not for the first time, what the hell she possibly saw in me worth staying for.

This wasn't the first time. Or the second. Five years of this, give or take.

I was in rehab when we met, for an arrest up in Boston. Had to attend group therapy once a week up in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. I guess she knew what she was getting into.

A deep breath before I pushed open the door. In the glass, I could see the scar above my left eye where I sliced it open in a drunken car accident on an icy road. I spent the night getting stitched up in an emergency room. Guess who was there to take me home?

And here she was again.

In the movie version, no doubt Tammy Wynette's voice would sing in the background, “Stand By Your Man.”

That was rock bottom for me, dear friends. Later, she'd tell me how she spent all night calling hospitals and jails looking for me until she found me. Think about that, boys and girls. Does someone love you enough to do that? Would you do that for someone? I picture her on hold, waiting, braced for the worst.

In the lobby of the Beverly Hills Police Department, she said, “What am I gonna do with you?

I said, “I'm all done, babe.” And I was. I didn't ever want to see that look on her face again.

She had no reason to believe me. But so far, so good.

Do I miss it? The bright lights and the big city? Sometimes. When my kids are howling at each other like wolves or my wife's handing me another honey do list. Sure. I remember the soothing bite of an ice cold martini at Musso & Frank's. The burn of a Maker's Mark, neat, at Bar Marmont. The sting of rum in a mai tai from the Formosa Café. I could go on. But I've been there. Done that.

I don't miss waking up in jail. Don't miss the hangovers, the lawyers, the rehab.

Of course, I write a bit. Which allows me to visit with Old Mike once in a while. Imagine what he would have done if things turned out different. If his wife hadn't stood by her man, like mine did.

Mike Miner lives and writes in Connecticut. He is the author of Prodigal Sons (All Due Respect Books), The Immortal Game (Gutter Books) and Everything She Knows (SolsticeLit Books). His stories can be found in the anthologies, Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT and Pulp Ink 2 as well as in places like Thuglit, Beat To a Pulp, All Due Respect, Burnt Bridge, Narrative, PANK, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey and others.

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