With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Al Neipris lives in Mansfield, Massachusetts, with his wife and three dogs. His hobbies include playing piano and finding innovative ways to injure himself while biking, recent examples of which are getting his shoelaces caught in the spokes (long story), and crashing into a tree.
There’s nothing like an old dog to remind a man of his own decline. Just a few short years ago Jake and I used to take daily five-mile jogs together, but now we’ve both got arthritis — his in the hips, mine in the knee — and we’ve had to give them up. Instead we take long walks through the woods near our house.
I’ve become obsessed with George W. Bush. I spend hours Googling “George W. Bush low IQ” (500,000 hits), “George W. Bush stubborn asshole” (67,000 hits), and “George W. Bush deranged maniac” (43,000 hits). I loathe this man with an intensity that makes my stomach hurt. Why he wasn’t thrown out of office long ago baffles me.
I’m sitting in my new primary-care physician’s office discussing the hypoglycemia, fatigue, headaches, and food allergies that have been nibbling away at me for the past fifteen years, like so many hungry mice.
The Sun doesn’t usually report on current events, but September’s terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. marked a turning point for all of us. We put out a call to our writers, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy and its aftermath. The response was overwhelming. As word got around, we received submissions not only from regular contributors but from writers who are new to The Sun’s pages.
I’ll be stopped at a red light, or reading a book, or staring out a window on a cold winter’s day, when suddenly a memory from my drinking-and-drugging days will float into view, like evidence of a crime rising out of dark waters. Maybe it will be the memory of the night I took half a dozen Seconals, washed them down with a couple of six-packs, and then got into my father’s car and wrapped it around a tree. Or it might be the gram of coke that tasted funny to me, but which I finished snorting up anyway, and then had a seizure. Jesus, I’ll think, did I really do that to myself? And the sweat will come out on my forehead, and I’ll feel sorry for my own body the way you’d feel sorry for a small, abused animal.
Little Zooey died today. Pam and I were in the backyard playing with the dogs when we heard a knock at the front door. Pam went around the side of the house to see who it was and came back a few minutes later with Zooey cradled in her arms. There was no blood, but the cat’s head hung slack, her tongue sticking out of her mouth. It was plain that she was dead. Pam was crying freely, and I felt a quick surge of grief myself.
I was a daily drinker, a frequent opium user, and a bona fide cocaine addict. I was a devotee of Demerol and a dabbler in Darvocet. I was a Percodan-pursuing, Seconal-seeking, codeine-consuming, 100 percent, fully certifiable, equal-opportunity substance abuser.