Story written by SomeLowLife on Thursday 7, December 2006

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My take on Alcoholics Anonymous

Overall Rating: 85.5%

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Triage Harold Bowen had experienced a bad life. In his opinion it was unfair and unjustified. Throughout his life he had met people who had it together. People whose lives he thought were mostly on the sunny side. Harold was not one of those people. He was that one type of guy whom which everyone meets a few during their short time on this earth. That one guy whose a loner. Sometimes it's by choice and sometimes it's forced. Harold's situation was usually by choice and whenever he had tried to enter society or a group of people whom he had admired from a far, because actually making contact with said people was certainly out of the question, he ended up completely ruining the opportunity in one awkward way or another which in turn would only reinforce his choice to remain a loner in the future. Harold never met his father. He had been slaughtered in World War II during the battle of Tobruk while fighting Rommel's forces in North Africa. He only had two things left from his father. The first was a picture of him, which consisted of his father, Harold Bowen Sr. in full military attire smoking a cigarette and standing on desert terrain with an unknown war buddy. In the background was a clear blue sky and a German Panzer tank, which Harold had assumed had been liberated from the Nazis. The second was a Smith & Wesson Model 10 Revolver. The allied forces had nicknamed it "Victory" because of how well it performed in combat. Those were the only two mementos he had from his father other then the stories his mom used to tell him before she died. He cared more about them then anything. In his early years his Mother, Anna Bowen, in Boulder, Colorado, raised Harold. It went well for a while. Harold even got a few good memories out of the whole ordeal. However after awhile even the sweetest of times will go sour. This was no exception. Eventually it all changed for the worst. Anna was a widowed single mom. On top of that Harold wasn't the picture perfect child. In fact most of the times he was quite the load to handle. Maybe it was a mixture of stress and depression, which lead to her downfall. To help her cope with all her pain she turned to Opiates, heroin to be precise. Harold later in life couldn't as hard as he tried drink away the horrific memories, which he was forced to endure. Everyday after 5th grade having to walk home alone wondering and hoping that when he got home his mom would still be alive. After a few months of this he had the routine completely down. Enter the house and drop his backpack off in the living room. Then check in her bathroom or the bedroom to find his mom (Most of the time he found her in the bathroom) and upon finding her immediately check her pulse. If god willing she was still alive he would go down to the kitchen, grab a snack and possibly a beer. His grades were suffering. Can you blame him? I mean it's a bit more difficult to focus in class if, during the entire time Ms. Lucas is talking your wondering if later in the day you will discover you're an orphan. Sometimes he didn't even go to school. Within a month that sometimes had turned into never. He remembers that one fateful day like it was yesterday. Everybody has those memories that are for one reason or another close to their heart. It could have been wonderful or terrible. Whichever they were there are two things that are guaranteed. One was that even if you hate to admit it they changed you in one way or another and secondly those memories are very distinct. Twenty years later you can still remember them like it was yesterday. For Harold it was one of those terrible memories, which seemed had a habit of plaguing him throughout his life. As soon as he entered the house he had a bad feeling in his gut. The first clue was the horrible smell that engulfed his nostrils, as soon as he ascended the stairs. Subconsciously he started climbing them slower. When he looks back at it now he supposes that he was just making one last desperate attempt to prolong the inevitable. As soon as he saw her he knew. She was leaning against the bed with a nightgown. The nightgown was once white but was now streaked with vomit. Her hair was oily and raggedy. I suppose when your strung out cleanliness is no longer next to godliness. In fact by the looks of her it couldn't have been farther away. He slowly approached her to get a closer look. The syringe was still stuck in her right under arm as well was the belt. Still tightly fastened on her arm. Her lips were an eerie pale blue. But what really got to Harold were the eyes. They were what kept him up at night. Her eyes were open, white, and lifeless. They were fixed staring down at the floor. Staring at the abyss. It still surprises Harold how long it took him to cry. He had been emotionless up until this point. As if this wasn't his mom. He was merely observing a phenomenon that had nothing to do with him and after he was done he could go to his home where everything would be all right. It all came hitting him like a brick. He fell on his knees and began balling. He crawled over to Anna's corpse and began pummeling her in the chest. "Why me!?" he screamed It was barely audible. He was crying to hard and his nose was now overly stuffed and leaking down towards his upper lip. He stopped hitting her and just started to hold her. He didn't care. At least that's what he kept on muttering to himself. Trying to deescalate the situation. He doesn't remember calling the cops or how long he was holding her until they got there. The last thing he remembers of that day was the police. One of the officers was trying to pull Harold off what was left of his mom. The other was writing a report. He had already contacted CPS. Harold was franticly kicking and screaming while the officer continued to tell him that everything was going to be ok. Everything was not going to be ok nor was it ever really going to be again. If you asked Harold before he killed all those innocent people I think he'd say the same thing. And that was that. Harold was sent off to live in a group home. The only thing he could take with him was the picture of his father. He had become what he feared the most. An orphan. He was alone. Completely and utterly alone. Sure he was around people but they didn't know him. They didn't understand him. He was alone. Ever since that day he found his mom he had an empty spot inside him. He tried to fill it with drugs. He was hesitant at first. Seeing as his very brief resume only consisted of alcohol. However that dilemma was resolved in a matter of minutes. The death of his mom had taught him that drugs were dangerous. D.A.R.E. had pounded it into his head. Just say no. If he said yes it might mean his life. That's when he realized it. Well that's not necessarily a bad thing. He had nothing to live for anyway. He went from experimenting, to using, to abusing. It went fine for a while. Eventually he had to resort to crime to pay for his ever-growing habit. Starting off door checking cars and moved his way up to houses. He started going to Juvenile Hall. Then he started going more often. This went on for years. Did he care? No. His stays there just eventually turned longer and his group home eventually turned into a placement. And that was that. He'd just become another statistic. No longer a face just another name. Just another teenager sent away. So Society wouldn't have to look at the problem anymore. Just hide it and maybe it will go away. The day that he turned eighteen was one of his few good memories or at least it started as one. The authorities had given him some clothes to wear. A light greenish Vietnam-era jacket, blue jeans, which were a little too big for his liking. But whom was he going to complain to? A black t-shirt and a dark green baseball cap. However the most important thing given to him was his second memento from his father. They were holding it in a black plastic bag. Most people get a whole plethora of personal belongings when there set free. Harold only had two. The moment he had placed "Victory" in his jacket he immediately felt better, safer. Next, He carefully placed the picture of his father in his other pocket. Harold didn't want to crinkle it. He was an adult now. His horrific past was behind him. He never actually dealt with it. Harold didn't want to. He just did the only thing he's ever known how to do. He hid it. Didn't talk about it. He just suppressed it deep inside his psyche. Sure it might rear its ugly head in ten or twenty years but he could deal with it then. Juvenile Services had also arranged for a house for Harold to live in. They gave him a card with an address on it. That was all. He decided he'd go get set up before he explored the city. The halfway house was downtown so he hopped on the bus. He only waited at the bus stop for a few minutes before his bus arrived. He slid his dollar in the toll machine and began to walk down the aisle to find his seat. He saw a diverse sea of faces staring back at him. Different races, classes, styles and cliques. There were Laborers, kids, single moms, Latinos, Blacks, and Whites. Diversity so great that only an inner city bus could deliver it. He was in the middle of the bus now holding the top rail so he didn't fall as he made his way to the back. When he reached the back he abruptly sat down. Now here he was staring at an array of the back of these people's skulls. He was experiencing an odd feeling as he was first navigating the bus staring at these people. Now he knew what that feeling was. He hated them all. He had never met or taken any time to know anything about these people yet he felt an inexplicable rage towards all of them. He knew he wasn't going to do anything about it. Harold wasn't sick. Well at least he wasn't that sick. He couldn't wait to get off the bus and when his stop finally came he was ecstatic. As soon as he stepped off the bus his mood improved drastically. He gleefully reached for the card Juvenile Services had given him. It read 347 Willow Street. It only took a few minutes to reach his destination and when he did he was still in a good mood. He knocked on the door and after a few moments a balding older man answered. He was wearing glasses, which looked a bit out dated. He was wearing khaki shorts and a red fuzzy sweater. Harold knew he had to be the head of the household. The state's only investment that this halfway house didn't turn into a drug infested den. "You must be Harold, we've been expecting you." Said the man kindly. He held his hand out to shake the older mans hand. "The name's John." The man boomed "I'm Harold" "I know" "Ohh uhh yeah that's right." "Well Harold please come in, I just have to ask you a few questions." They walked into the house. It was surprisingly nice. The outside didn't give justice to the interior. Harold followed the man into the kitchen and they sat down on brown stools. "Coffee?" politely inquired John. "No thanks" responded Harold "Water, Juice?" "No really I'm fine" "Okay, suit yourself," replied John as he poured himself a large glass of orange juice. After a few quiet moments had passed. John must have noticed the vibes that Harold was giving off of. "Don't worry man these are just the basic guidelines that I'm forced to go over. There pretty simple stuff. Ya'know common sense type stuff. Okay well let's get started" "Alright...." The man began to sputter off rules. Harold wasn't listening. He had over time mastered the skill of acting like he gave a fuck. That skill came in handy. A lot. He began thinking about miscellaneous nonsense while he rhythmically nodded his head. Every once in a while Harold would belt out an, " Oh really" or an " uh huh". He only reentered reality when John became louder and noticeably different. "Ummm Excuse me?" questioned Harold "What's that in your pocket." Harold removed "Victory" from his pocket and put her down on the kitchen table. The cold steel made a loud thud. "You uhh can't have that here!" sputtered John nervously. The mood quickly changed. You could see a look of anxiety and panic in John's eyes now. He still hadn't touched his orange juice. "But it was my father's...." Harold was interrupted. "I don't fucking care whose it was! You can't have that shit here, its against policy!" screamed John. Harold first thought that John was a pushover. Just another old man who was possibly in a mid-life crisis, who to take his own minds attention away from his pathetic life had shifted gears and started helping troubled youth. Maybe Harold was wrong. Maybe. "It's the last memento I have of him. Here I'll unload the bullets." Harold was getting desperate now. His hands were starting to shake which in turn made him spill the bullets everywhere. A few fell on the table, one on Harold's lap, and the rest were lying on the floor. Now the bullets rested everywhere but inside "Victory's" chamber. Harold's attempt at haggling didn't even seem to faze John. One thing was sure though. There was no way he was going to give up "Victory". "That's it I'm calling the police." Yelled John as he stood up and practically hurtled on top of the phone. That was the last straw. Even just the word "police" had the effect of kryptonite on Harold. After all they had never helped him out of a sticky situation. They put him in sticky situations. Hell they were the molasses. John had already dialed those three magic numbers. It only took a few moments for Harold to completely assess the situation and react to it. He stood up quickly and brutishly, almost knocking the brown stool on the floor. He grabbed "Victory" and placed it inside his light green jacket. He then proceeded to place both his hands in there respective jacket pockets as he walked quickly out of the house. He hadn't said a word since John picked up the telephone. John did. As Harold left he could hear him talking incoherently about the latest tenant whose interview had gone awry. The rest of that night still to this day remains a haze to Harold. He has vague recollections of him going into a bar. The rest of his memories are in frames. Mere snippets of evidence of what he had done to his liver that night. Entering the bar would explain the latter. When he came to the next morning he had no home to go to. Nor did he have any friend's house to stay at. After all Harold was a loner. So Harold just drank more. He would drink as much as he could during the day and when dusk came he would enter the bars. Harold had no money so he would make bets or dance or do whatever he could to get people to buy him drinks. He would get a few at one bar move onto a different bar and get people to purchase him some there. Then he would move onto the next honky-tonk on the list. He'd do this until dawn struck and then repeat the cycle. After a few nights of this Harold would blackout or pass out and the cops would pick him up and take him to the drunk tank. This went on for years. I'm not inclined nor do I want to really delve into Harold's drug and alcohol use. I will however say it was bad. There were moments when he did not want to live anymore and there were moments when he tried not to live anymore. Maybe it was a higher power that kept him from perishing as long as he did or maybe it was just good luck finally going his way after a lifetime of bad luck. Anyways if you really want to hear Harold's story just go to an A.A./N.A. meeting and your eventually bound to hear some variation of it. Through a series of unplanned and awkward events Harold eventually found himself in the revolving doors of A.A. Like most people Harold had trouble at first and found himself relapsing a number of times before finally getting "it." He had a sponsor and worked the steps. His life was actually starting to look up. He had found a job as a janitor at a nearby elementary school and had located a shitty apartment. It wasn't much to look at or well frankly smell but to Harold it was home. He somehow even through the trials and tribulations his addiction had put him through. Harold had still ended up keeping those two mementos from his mysterious father that he cared for so much. He had framed the picture and put it in his bedroom and he slept with "Victory" under his pillow. Harold had even over time gained a few friends in the rooms. He was shy at first and would only converse with his sponsor. Before he overcame his social anxiety if he ever ended up at a meeting a little to early then he liked, which he usually planned carefully so that situation came up rarely, he would smoke a cigarette a few yards away from the masses. That way he was doing something. People weren't looking at someone who was standing there awkwardly. People who were sober might mistake that person as a newcomer and start to mingle with said human being, but if he was silently smoking most people thought he was enjoying his nicotine buzz in solitude and they could respect that, at a distance. Harold hated cigarettes. Eventually though, as was previously stated, Harold gained some friends. First they were just acquaintances but as weeks, months, even years passed he grew to really admire and respect them. They became close and he could even trust them. He was for the first time in his life content with all aspects of his life. Harold was happy. Finally. However after awhile even the sweetest of times will go sour and this was of course no exception. It seems even the Kennedy family had better luck then our friend, Harold. As time went on all the friends he had become closely acquainted with had slowly but surely went out. One by one his friends had drifted away and he was completely powerless over it. Eventually even his sponsor disappeared. Harold never figured out if he relapsed, moved away, or died. One day he just never returned his phone calls nor was he ever in Harold's eyesight again. For the second time in his life Harold was truly alone and not by his own choice. It was around that time that Harold started to lose it. It was as if the A.A. tit that Harold had been suckling on for years had stopped giving him happiness, serenity, and confidence. It had been swiped for anger, self-pity, and depression. Harold had even noticed that meetings had started having an opposite effect on him. Before even when he left a meeting that was mediocre at best he still felt better afterwards. An unknown feeling that said everything could be all right if you wanted it to. A feeling of satisfaction that you couldn't explain in any language regardless of how hard you tried. That magical wonderful feeling had been replaced by a dark loathing squirming around in the deep dark recesses of his gut. Much to his dismay that feeling was magnified every time he went to a meeting. Sometimes it even got unbearable and he had to go step outside of said meeting to reorganize himself mentally. To Harold it must have just looked like he was sitting there silently. A look of deep thought reflected upon his face. Harold thought that others would assume his mind was on sobriety or even maybe a sponsee who was facing troubled times. To every one else it of course looked like he was talking to himself. Most of it seemed to be incoherent mumbling or some sort of archaic language. However every once in awhile for a brief moment in time a few words or even a statement was audible. "Why me..." "There against you Harold........All of them.....against.........Why?" "Worthless.....pathetic...." Those were all statements that witnesses had sworn that Harold Bowen had said weeks before the murders happened. At the time, when they first had heard it they were puzzled for a few moments before quickly brushing it off. After all that strange man was probably just another drug-induced schizophrenic. Just another poor soul who had dropped one too many tabs while pursuing a pyschonautic experience. People had just accepted it. Society wasn't going to ask why he was conversing solo. I mean that would have been rude. Over the course of the next week Harold had stopped showing up for work. He never called in. In fact Harold had unplugged his phone earlier. He wanted absolutely no contact with anyone. His attitude had become a whole new level of anti-social, violent even. Sometimes he spent much if not all of his day staring out of his window. Despising society from afar. He stopped going to multiple meetings and ended up going to only one. That meeting was on a Thursday in a retirement home. It was small, only about five to six people, excluding Harold, showed up. It was in a relatively close walking distance. Large meetings were no longer an option. Too many other people were there. The last known memory that Harold had of that particular setting was of a large chip meeting. He had silently taken everyone's inventory. There were of course the young people. Most of them not even sober nor did they ever want to be and spent most of there time smoking outside while socializing. Wherever you find young people at a meeting you will find teenage girls and wherever you found them you would find the next culprit. That one older guy who was always a little too close to the younger girls and that most of the members of A.A. had thought to themselves that this man had pedophilic qualities, whether they voiced it in concern or not. Harold noticed that if you watched closely you could see that type of member touch the teenage girls for it seemed no apparent reason. Whether it is a hug or something similar. If you think about it that type of situation required no physical contact whatsoever from either parties. Next on the list was that one woman who was beautiful and distracted most of the men, aside from the last type of course, from thinking about sobriety and instead brought their thoughts to lust. Harold realized that those women lacked a healthy amount of self-confidence usually due to an abusive parent or maybe an Uncle Buck. Thinking that maybe sleeping with every other guy in the program will make her feel better. The type of girl that spends her life trying to please men but deep down you know never will. The next usual suspect was that one guy who was clearly an asshole by his shares and the way that he carried himself. No one liked that guy yet no one told him. Before Harold could go on down the list of doppelgangers that seemed to plague every fellowship, he had to leave. If he had waited even another second he would have snapped. He hated them all. Harold had to go home and as quickly as he could to go sleep to quell the thoughts running through his skull. The final thought that jogged through his mind that night was, "God damn, there are a lot of sick people in A.A." It was a Wednesday morning, during breakfast, when Harold made the decision. He had been calmly eating his over easy eggs and wheat toast while drinking some coffee when this idea sprung into his head. To put it bluntly he planned to kill everyone in his home group. But he was going to do it sober. After all he was still a member of A.A. To do it while intoxicated would be disrespectful. Besides then the media and A.A. as a whole would just blame it on that. He couldn't handle sobriety so he relapsed and went insane. That would only strengthen the enemies' beliefs. Harold couldn't have that. But he would know the truth. Harold wanted to send a message to A.A. A repercussion for what it had become. A hideout for liars, probationers, pedophiles, thieves, and the list could go on infinitum. Yes there were people who genuinely wanted to be sober. People who really were good people when you got down to it. Those people were few and far between. Just another group whose intentions were pure in the beginning but over time became corrupt. Bill Wilson would be rolling around in his grave if he were alive today. Somewhere along the lines A.A. had broken and no one seemed to care. Harold was the only one who could fix it. The only handyman in town that bleak Wednesday morning. Now Harold didn't create some bulletproof plan. In fact just deciding to do it was his sole thought on the gritty subject. He spent the rest of the day relaxing. He read from the big book, thought about his past, took a bath, and meditated. It was one of his best days in a while. Harold's home group was a morning meeting. He woke up and calmly took a shower. He had a bowl of cheerios and a cup of orange juice for his breakfast. It was kind of pitiful for a last meal now that you look back on it. After his breakfast he walked over to his closet and wondered what clothes to wear. He settled on a black jacket, with a blank black baseball cap, blue jeans, and black sneakers. The meeting started in 30 minutes. He had plenty of time to walk. Harold went over to his bed and lifted his white pillow. Its pillowcase had needed to be washed for a while but Harold never got around to it. He tossed it aside and looked at victory. It was the gun his father had used during a World War and now Harold was going to bring it to his. He placed it inside his jacket. Harold then strolled over to the last picture of his father, which was framed and hung on the wall. Harold had one last good look at it before he left with a tear in his eye. "There are no dues or fee's in A.A....." bellowed the secretary of the meeting. The usual crowd was present. Harold had counted them when he first arrived and the final number was four. It changed to five when one came back from the restroom. Harold had been asked to read, "How it Works" and did so happily. He then excused himself for a quick smoke and walked out of the meeting without distracting the others. Harold didn't have any cigarettes. As soon as he was outside and out of sight he pulled out "Victory" and loaded six bullets into her chamber. Then Harold stopped and looked at the sky. It was a beautiful day. There was a clear light blue sky with a few clouds calmly floating by. It was a good day to die. Three little girls were playing jump rope on a lawn across the street. They were so happy. Harold smiled at them as he took a nearby metal ashtray and lodged it under the doorknob. Now the entrance was blocked. The show is about to begin he thought to himself. He reentered via a side entrance. It took the other members a few moments to notice, Harold standing in the doorway with a pistol in his hand. You could tell the secretary was frightened by the look in her eyes. They were filled with all sorts of emotions, Harold could tell. The poor girl never had a chance to voice her concerns. Harold raised his right arm, took aim and shot. It seemed as if this whole mass murder took place in slow motion for Harold. When the bullet hit the secretary, it did so right between the eyes. Blood splattered behind her on the adjoining wall as she fell and hit the floor with a loud thud. Only dead weight could make that type of sound. He then pointed "Victory" at the closest person next to him. Who conveniently looked as if he could have been the largest threat to foil this scenario. Victory unleashed her second bullet into the gut of this man. He slumped over in the chair as blood seeped through his white shirt. By this time the remaining three members had jolted for the door. As hard as they tried they couldn't dislodge the ashtray to free themselves from this death camp. A strange tranquil feeling had taken over Harold. It was the first time in awhile that Harold had felt truly Serene. To the other people's horror they could hear Harold recite the Serenity prayer amongst the chaos. "God grant me the serenity to accept..." Harold fired another shot into the back of the last man's skull. He perished instantly. One of the remaining girls had just collapsed and started crying. Begging for mercy. The other girl it seemed was a survivor and decided to attack Harold. She stood up, picked up a nearby chair and brandished it as her weapon of choice. She then ran at Harold. Fight or flight had apparently kicked in. "The things I cannot change...." The girl was no match for "Victory's" blast. It had pierced her right above the jaw. Once she fell down she would never get up ever again. There was now a few different crimson rivers flowing from different corpses, which all led to an estuary of blood in the middle of the room. There was a distinct low moaning coming from the man slumped over in the chair, whose white t-shirt was now forever stained. Harold walked over and ended what was left of his life. Harold's black clothes were covered in blood. He didn't mind. Harold did however mind the sirens that were on their way. "Courage to change the things I can...." Harold just stood and watched the sole survivor weeping. She had stopped begging him for mercy and was now praying. Asking someone stronger then her to maybe lend a helping hand. Harold was now pondering something. If she survived would she become the true epitome of a sober member? Someone who truly talked the talk but also walked the walk. Someone who could help out newcomers in a cinch. Or would it be just the opposite? Would the trauma cause her to relapse and lead her down a road to a quick death? Maybe she would be Harold's sober experiment. Because of this he showed mercy. The feeling of Serenity was peaking now. He almost felt high. He wondered if this was considered a relapse. However he quickly dismissed the thought. He stopped and looked around at what he had done. Harold felt no shame or remorse. It seemed like a dream. As if he didn't commit those heinous acts. The sirens were getting close now. Harold made his final decision. Harold carefully placed "Victory" in his mouth. "And wisdom to know the difference" Harold Bowen pulled the trigger.

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    Great story. I love the concept, and it was well written. There are a few spelling mistakes, and a few grammatical errors, but you mostly lost points for the complete lack of punctuation. Other than that, I thought it was a solid story.