There is a student sitting on the smoking benches. He was very close to Angel and is visibly upset. He is staring off into nothing and I can’t help but sit next to him. His name is Tanner, but everyone calls him Mozzarella. That’s his last name. He is young, with brown hair, cute freckles and an athletic build.
“Hey Tanner. Are you okay?” I ask. Of course he isn’t okay. I can see that he is not.
“Liz, Angel was my rock,” he explains. “I can’t believe this has happened.”
His eyes are filled with tears and he wipes at them falling down his face. He doesn’t know me very well but wants to share a story.
“When I was writing O/W’s one day,” he begins.
O/W’s (pronounced odubs) is a later part of the program (Book 6) that involves writing all of your overts and withholds. From my understanding, it’s basically a running record of all the bad shit you have done. There is something therapeutic about owning your shit, but many of the students in that book experience difficulty writing them.
“Angel knew something was wrong. O/W’s can be difficult to acknowledge and her and I being as close as we were, she was the first one to sense that I was having a hard time,” he continues.
“Her and I were nearly always inseparable, but that day, Liz, that day she was on me like white on rice. She calmed me down and comforted my need to talk. She genuinely cared about me and I genuinely cared about her,” he cries.
“I’m sorry Tanner,” I apologize. “I wish there was something more that I could say.”
“It’s okay. It’s just, she saved me from myself and loved me for who I was wholeheartedly and I loved her for who she was wholeheartedly and now she is gone. I already miss her,” he confesses.
Coco and Chanel make their way over to the bench. They know Mozzarella well and recognize how close he was with Angel. The three of them grieve together and I excuse myself to meet Keisha in the lodge. There are no signs of Keisha and I assume she must have gone back to the room. Being in sauna tires her out and she might be napping.
On my way to the room, I run into the course room and grab a Success Story. Success Story’s are pieces of paper we write on after every session, explaining our wins and gains. I had a major stable win today. I’m not acknowledging Angel’s death as a win, I am acknowledging my decision to stay put, as a win.
After I write up my story, I toss it in the bin and make my way out the course room. I feel lost. Every student is walking like zombies. The rest of the day feels foggy. Tomorrow I am going to the doctor again. I can’t wait to get off the mountain and this dark cloud of depression looming over my friends.
At night I say a prayer before sleep,
Dear God. Thank you for looking after me and helping me to avoid making poor choices. I trust you. Please help take these heroin cravings away. I am sorry that I am a moron who actually thought snorting an antihistamine was a good idea. God bless Angel and her family and all of my friends affected by this news today at the center, Amen.
Morning comes early. I don’t think anyone got good sleep. The center is still in shock and mourning. Today I am heading to the doctor with Rick and Cody. For some reason, Cody is having a medical issue and can’t be in sauna. He is worried because he is already part way through sauna and if he misses more than 2 or 3 consecutive days, he will be forced to start over.
“You guys ready to go?” Gavrill asks. “Get in the van.”
We load up and head down the mountain. Gavrill is high energy. He never stops talking. He puffs on his vapor, talks with his hands, turns his head to the back while talking, drives like a madman and is passionate about every song he plays.
“Yo, have you guys heard this one?” He asks, while putting on A Little Piece of Heaven by Avenged Sevenfold.
“I am not familiar with their music, but I know my sister and friend Jay, from back home, loves them,” I admit. “To the point of having tattoos even,” I giggle. I really miss Jay and his girlfriend Leila. Leila is more like a sister to me. I am homesick, as the song begins to rock.
Rick also is not familiar with the song, but we both bang our heads to it. I like it instantly. It is twisted and not my genre of music, but it seems fitting today. Cody, on the other hand, is not impressed. He is a country boy and listens to strictly country music. I like 90’s country and can tolerate the new, but Gavrill and Rick do not. So Cody is out of luck with the Luke Bryan request.
Once we arrive at the doctor’s office, we are greeted with Huntington staff and students. Sean, the hot marine is here with a student that is coming up to the center with us today. I can see the frustration on his face, however, I will not fully understand it until I’ve spent a few more minutes around his student, Vinny.
“Hey guys, are you from the center. No fucking way. I’m coming up with you. I’m Vinny but my friends nicknamed me Vinny too Skinny. I’m awesome. You’re awesome. We are all awesome,” Vinny says. But, he doesn’t just say it, he rambles it off at mock speed while twitching all over the place.
Vinny is a shorter, extremely thin guy. He has olive skin and dark brown hair. I am going to assume he is Italian. He is my age, which is a nice change of pace; however, I am already annoyed by him. He has a thick New York accent and has already mentioned that he is from New York three times and how awesome he is because of it.
“New York rules man. If you ain’t from New York or never been, you ain’t living. It’s awesome, I’m awesome,” Vinny elaborates. “New York is awesome.”
Gavrill makes eye contact with me and I engage him in a TR-0, while Vinny is the obvious bullbait. Oh my gawd, this guy is off his rocker. He won’t shut up! Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a talker, but damn, this guy has me beat.
“Oh you like to Vape man. Check this out, check this out,” Vinny says, while pulling out a special case that houses his Vape pen. He smiles, folds his hands and then unfolds them before folding them again, ticking and twitching in his chair. He moves nonstop. I can’t tell if he is having a seizure or has severe ADHD or what, but he makes me uncomfortable.
“That’s the top of the line Vapor available. You don’t know nothing about that,” he says, as he passes it to Gavrill. “It cost me $185.00, I checked there is nothing better. I have the best because I am awesome. I walked in and said, aye I’m from New York and need the best Vape Pen you have. We don’t got these back home, aye. You know what I’m saying? The guy promised this was the best,” he continues to ramble on.
This causes all of us to laugh. Surprisingly, Gavrill remains chill and doesn’t rub it in Vinny’s face, that he is the, “Vape Guy” and is capable of ordering and building a much better Mod for fifty bucks. Rick does not hold back.
“I don’t know man, you don’t know who you are talking to. Gavrill is the Vape dude. He builds these things and makes juices,” Rick informs Vinny.
“Oh really. Awe so then you know it’s the best then, cause I always have the best. I am the best and what I got is the best,” Vinny says.
Jesus. I can’t stand this incessant chattering and cocky arrogance. What a fucking moron. Thank God, I have met other New Yorker’s who are nothing like him, or he would have tainted New Yorker’s for me forever. It’s my turn to get my blood drawn.
“Are you okay Liz,” the nurse asks.
“Yeah. It’s just that every week you are sticking a needle in my arm and every week it triggers me. I don’t want to watch but I have to. When I see the blood, my heart speeds up and I crave heroin instantly. I give myself a mini panic attack every time,” I confess.
“Wow. I never thought about that,” she admits. “Most my patients, don’t like needles.” We both laugh.
“I’m not going to look this time,” I say, but I turn my head once she connects and watch blood fill her little blood culture bottles. My heart races.
I never told anyone, but my first doctor visit, I was so sick that looking at the needle disposal box on the wall triggered me. There is one in the bathroom. I was very tempted to break into the box to obtain a needle. Thank God, I thought about the fact I was in a doctor’s office, filled with sick people and how ridiculous it would be to use a used needle in a disposal box.
Again, they have no appointment for me to see the doctor. I insist that they let me speak with him. I keep being denied for sauna and feel that I have a right to talk to the doctor about this. Gavrill makes the accommodations again.
“Miss Elizabeth,” the doctor greets me. “I hear you are concerned about not being in sauna. Many times, when people have Hepatitis C, their liver enzymes need to regulate before I can approve them.”
“What?! Is that your way of telling me that I have Hepatitis C?” I ask angrily.
“Yes. Of course, you did not know?” He asks. He looks puzzled. “Narconon has known for a couple of weeks. We have been monitoring your enzymes.”
“No, I didn’t fucking know,” I scream. My heart is racing. I can’t believe it. I am dying. I am fucking dying and I never shared needles. I might as well have taken a dirty, ass fucking syringe from the needle box now!
“What do you mean Narconon knew?” I ask. “They told me it was normal for some students who have been dehydrated and starving themselves to not get approved. I used meth too. I was very unhealthy and didn’t eat, for like months,” I admit.
“Yes. Yes. But, it’s okay. You have acute infection, is all,” he continues.
What the fuck? I want an English speaking doctor without an accent. I am trying not to rage on him. What the fuck does acute mean and why the fuck did everyone keep this a secret? I am so going to give Tess Moff a piece of my mind when I get back to the center! She told me there was nothing in my paperwork saying I had this disease when I was so worried about it before.
“It is okay. We will start you on this medication and supplements,” he suggests.
“Wait, so you are telling me there is medicine I can take and you have known I have had this fucking life threatening disease and yet you didn’t feel I needed to take the medications before?” I ask, angrily.
“Well, the sauna should clear up your condition,” he continues. “Many people who go through sauna, heal and don’t need medicine. Narconon is a no drug facility, we can try without first, you know?”
“Are you kidding me right now? So, I need to get into the sauna to get rid of the Hep. C, but you won’t let me in the sauna and you didn’t give me medicine,” I explode. “I want medicine. I don’t know what all this sauna, Kool-aid, shit is but I want medicine and I want it now,” I demand.
“Yes, of course. This is acute condition Elizabeth. There is percent that only has antibody showing for test, you understand? Only the antibody. False positive.” He says.
No, I don’t understand. All I have heard is I have a disease that I know nothing about. What I do know, is that it makes people yellow, their livers are fucked and they die. I don’t know about the six different strands, or the statistics of my acute condition, or the fact that modern medicine has advanced to a point of treating and clearing a percentage of patients who are diagnosed with Hep. C.
“At least you are not having the AIDS, so that is good,” he says. “It could be worse?”
Well no shit Sherlock. It can always be worse! I could be a double amputee with a feeding tube, a lazy eye and fucking herpes too, but how is that at all relevant to my having Hep. C? I can’t believe he just suggested that it could be worse. Duh!
My heart is racing, as I make my way down to the room the other students are in. Rick still hasn’t received his shot, so we will be here for a bit longer.
“Liz, what’s wrong?” Cody asks.
“Let’s go smoke,” I respond.
Cody and I walk around the building. Gavrill chases after us, but when I explain the news I have received, and he sees that I am crying, he allows us to walk.
“Don’t run guys, okay? I am serious,” he says.
We give our words, but I am already mapping out my surroundings. If I am dying anyways, I am going out with a needle in my arm.
“Stop Liz,” Cody instructs.
“What?” I ask, while diverting my eyes to the ground.
“I see the wheels turning. Don’t run. Think about your daughter,” he says.
“I am thinking about her. I have basically killed myself,” I weep.
“Liz. No you haven’t. Hep. C isn’t as serious as it use to be. There are different types and he told you that you have the acute kind. That’s a 75% chance of clearing up, right?” He asks.
“I don’t know. I don’t know anything,” I admit. “His accent is so heavy, I can barely make out a damn word he says.”
It is finally time to load up.
“What’s wrong Liz?” Rick asks.
I can’t even look at him. He was teasing me before I got my blood drawn. He even said not to worry I probably just had Hep. C. I am so angry and frustrated and I told him that joke wasn’t funny. Now, more than ever, I want to smack him.
The van ride is intolerable. Vinny won’t shut the fuck up and I am so over hearing how awesome he is. He chuckles between everything he says, like he is the funniest man in the world. I want to punch him in his annoying, laughing, smug, arrogant New York face!
Cody sits by me on the van and attempts to console me. He is being a genuine friend and I will never forget that he was there for me and helped to try and calm me down. I can’t stop panicking. I am in my head.
“Yeah, I knew I was going to be gone for a while so I packed my Lego sets. I wasn’t going to get bored,” Vinny says. Legos? Dude this guys is 34 years old. “I love to build.”
“So, I spent $200,000 on this program and I hope it’s worth it. So far, it’s been good,” he continues.
What a lying piece of shit. We all laugh. He didn’t spend $200,000. That is absurd and a huge exaggeration.
“Wow, $200,000, yeah dude I spent $500,000, you got a great deal,” Rick jokes.
We pull over to get gas. Gavrill doesn’t have our student money and we all want to get a beverage from the gas station. Vinny volunteers to get us all a soda.
While Gavrill is pumping gas, I spot a guy in front of the gas station. He has multi-colored hair, piercings and pinned pupils (heroin pins your eyes). I make my way towards him and light a cigarette.
“You know where to score dope?” I mumble under my breath, while exhaling my first drag.
“Yeah,” the guy laughs. “You trying to get high?”
“What are you doing Liz?” Cody asks, as he races over to me.
“I’m taking off,” I admit. “Fuck rehab.”
The guy gets up, winks at me and walks around the building towards his car. He waits there for me. I am sure he noticed I am in a druggy buggy and he heard me acknowledge I am in rehab. I know he thinks I am cute.
“Dude, don’t worry about it,” I say. “All I got to do is get to the car and I am gone. Gavrill is paying for gas. I can run right now. Let me go.”
“No. Liz. No! Fuck no! I’m not letting you do this,” Cody demands.
“You are going to be fine. Think about Angel, ” he says. “Don’t do this Liz. Please, don’t.”
It is insane how just last night I would unpack my bag and decide to stay, only to immediately plot an escape again. That is the nature of drugs. It is a viscous cycle of wanting to be sober and craving to get high. I just received horrible news and it is in my nature to numb out. That is my way of dealing with things. I can’t deal with this sober.
“Liz, please come get in the van with me. Think about Angel. Think about your daughter. You love her. I have seen you in the lodge making all her note cards. Don’t abandon her. She needs you,” he continues.
I wave off the dude in the car and he drives away, as Cody and I walk over to the van. I won’t go. I won’t run. Cody is right. My emotions have me messed up and I am scared and not thinking clearly. But, as soon as I get to the fucking center, I am going to rage on the staff for lying to me…