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Two trips to the ER — one voluntary, one involuntary — and I’ve cheated Death yet again.

That motherfucker doesn’t even bother showing up anymore. Or at least when he does, he leaves his scythe at home.

To make a long story short, I sold one of my saws, so I had a few bucks in my pocket. Started working on my truck’s brakes, then it started raining and I got pissed off. Grabbed my umbrella and footed it over to the liquor store. The rest is pretty much a six day blackout and near liver failure.

I called 911 the first time — was having chest and abdominal pains, hallucinations, could barely talk — so off to the hospital I went for an overnight stay I barely remember. I do remember being released the next day and coming home to find half a fifth hidden under my desk. Which I promptly took care of, then made a beeline back to the liquor store for more. Finished off another two fifths in the next 24 hours and decided it would be a good idea to wash down about 30 Clonidines with the last of it.

Needless to say, my partner wasn’t thrilled with my decision and called 911 herself. Cops everywhere, another ambulance ride, another wake-up in the hospital not knowing what the hell happened. After coming to and piecing together the few lucid bits I could remember about how I got there, I managed to convince the docs and the psych evaluator that I was okay and not a danger to myself or anyone else. So they let me go. Without a ride, without shoes, and thinking I was at the suburban hospital near where I live and not the one downtown.

I walked out the door (did I mention without shoes?) and was a little confused. Instead of seeing trees and the modern architecture of the suburban hospital, I’m looking instead at downtown Youngstown. It took me a few minutes to figure out where in the hell I was, and once I did I almost cried. But I wanted a cigarette and I wanted to lay down in my own bed. Badly.

So… I walked the seven or eight miles home. Without shoes. Most of it through some of the worst “hoods” in town. I’ve never seen so much broken glass, dog shit and empty Newport boxes. By the time I got home, the bottoms of my socks were completely worn away, my feet were black as tar (probably because I’d stepped in tar), and my legs were so stiff and cramped I could barely walk. The only thing that got me through it was a desperate craving for a smoke and a mumbled/grumbled mantra with each step: “gawdamnit… motherfucker… gawdamnit… motherfucker”.

In any case, I made it. Sorry, Death. Maybe next time.