“Well, you made it through the fire without drinking. Kudos and crap.”
He sat in the recliner in the living room as I sorted through the mountain of bills and other mail on the dining room table.
“Can’t take credit for that,” I said. “That was Greg’s doing,” I said.
“Ah yes, your old buddy Greg. He was your first sponsor wasn’t he?” He heaved himself off the chair and staggered into the dining room. In the process, He kicked over a stack of boxes with a stack of books on top. The books cascaded to the floor with a crash. Essential Buddhism tumbled over into the corner, open to the section on the Noble Eightfold Path: Right understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Meditation. He glanced at this page for a moment, then chuckled.
“Well, you’ve certainly got a lot of work to do on that third one, don’t you!” He cackled madly until He started coughing vehemently. He hacked up a big gob of crap and spat it on the floor, then cleared His throat and pulled off His jug of wine He dragged alongside Him. “Greg will certainly attest to that. I mean your first pet-sitting job off the bench and you almost burn the whole house down? Yeah, you could use some work on that Right Action crap alright. Miracle Greg didn’t kick you out then and there.”
“He is my friend, Friend’s don’t do that,” I said as I gathered up the books and stacked them neatly in the corner.
“It doesn’t hurt that your name is on the lease and you know it. Fucking idiot,” He pulled from the bottle. “Kinda sucks that he wasn’t your sponsor when you lit the house up. You could have bullshitted him about how you were so close to drinking over it and poor you poor you pour you another drink and all that. He would have bought that the whole way.”
“He’s smarter than that. And I wouldn’t do that to him anyway. As it turns out, I don’t need to. I have a new sponsor,” I said and collapsed into the recliner, exhausted. It had been a rough month.
“Oh yes, Dustin. That guy that gave you that bullshit book. What was it called? Zen and Being A Drunken Moron?” He smirked.
“Zen and Recovery,” I corrected Him. “And no, not Dustin. In fact, I’d be kind of afraid of this guy if I were you.”
He did a spit-take all over His shirt and the floor. Wine dribbled from His nose and mouth. “Afraid ?!? Of one of you losers? Jesus Everloving Christ. Why should I be afraid of one of you zeros?”
“Because he’s not a zero. He’s got more sobriety than almost anyone I know in the Program except for maybe Mac. And trust me, you do not want to piss Mac off. He’ll take his cane and shove it where the sun don’t shine.”
“Oh yeah? And what about the new guy? What will he do?”
“I’ll run circles around you, I know that,” Dan came walking through the door carrying gifts all my friends across country had sent.
“Who the fuck is this guy?”
“I’m your worst nightmare,” Dan said.
“Dan, meet Him,” I said and motioned to Him.
“You’re a lot shorter than I expected,” Dan said. “What are you, 5 foot even? Not very intimidating.”
“I don’t need to be tall to be intimidating, asshole,” He said and sidled up to Dan’s chest.
“Believe me, I understand,” Dan said, who shove past him and arraigned the yoga mat, sage and shell and frog rattle on the bookshelves. He went back out to the porch and got all the other housewares that were gifts I had bought with the money all my new friends had sent and stacked them in the kitchen to be sorted later. “I used to have my own demon. Nearly got the better of me once, too.”
“Standing in the doorway with Dan on one side of Him and me on the other, He glanced back and forth between us, a confused grimace on his face.
“Then what the hell are you still doing here?”
“Proving peons like you wrong. One day at a time,” Dan said and smiled.
“I don’t understand,” He said and brought the bottle to His lips. Suddenly, Dan back-handed the bottle across the room. It hit the wall with a CLUNK! and dropped to the floor on its side. Red wine poured out, ran to His feet and collected like pools of blood. The look of demure bemusement never left Dan’s face.
“Then I’ll explain it,” he said. “My friend here has played with his cards close to his chest for the last two years. Wouldn’t want to give you any kind of heads-up about what’s coming your way, would we? Greg helped ease him into sobriety and took him into his house. Dustin gave him the book detailing the parallels between Buddhism and sobriety. Now I’m here to make sure he has the tools in the toolbox to fight you when he needs to and succeed where he can. And he’s already doing it.”
“Oh do tell.” He now pouted with His arms folded.
“The first talk we had as sonsor-sponsee, Dan instructed me to do something that felt totally foreign but turned out making sense. I just asked my supervisor how I was doing and she said I was doing fine.”
“Good Christ,” He said. “You needed him to tell you that?”
“Yes, I did. I wouldn’t have had the wisdom to think of that on my own. Dan does,” I went to the kitchen and returned with a cuppa for me and Dan. “Little stuff like that is the kind of thing I wouldn’t think of by myself. Dan’s gotta few 24 hours under his belt and has the presence of mind to know some of the right questions and know when to ask them. My friends Jon and the Donnas and Tess and Lisa and the Deborahs and Tom and Jeff and all the rest of them brought me to Dan. And now I bring Dan to you. Don’t worry. You guys will get along swimmingly I think.”