I am very proud to introduce you to Callie, one of the main characters in the novel. Don’t forget to click here to get notice of global release date!
We stood once again by the window, getting acquainted with the mid-morning version of the view. The sky was a shade of blue that refused to give the spotlight to the few clouds that freely roamed the stratosphere. The sun was at its warmest, and just putting a hand on the glass would momentarily sooth the penetrating shivers that gave us the polar temperature on this side of it.
In the distance, window cleaners propelled down the side of buildings like Navy Seals. Impatient car horns made sure everyone stayed vigilant on the freeway, which was dead-stopped with heavy traffic. The parking lot below was seeing an influx of human and vehicular activity; people walking in and out of doctor appointments, probably getting bloodwork, taking x-rays, maybe getting a necessary wake-up call. They walked with an urgency that made it obvious that whatever they were doing was an interruption of their day; they needed to get in and out as quickly as possible, so they could resume taking care of the things that really mattered. Not too far from where we stood a couple of small birds played, chirping away in happiness and intertwining in rhythmic cavort. Callie and I soaked up the view, as we sipped on hot cups of coffee that they had available after lunch, to help those that wanted an upper hand in battling the drowsiness of the afternoon meds. I didn’t have that problem, I just always enjoyed a cup of the black stuff. This one was particularly dull, but I didn’t expect there to be Starbucks quality coffee on the psychiatric floor.
“Are you a pessimist, Jay?” Callie asked.
“Worse,” I responded. “I’m a realist.”
“Do you think we will ever be able to defeat these demons?”
“Depends on who you ask,” I said. “An optimist would say yes. A pessimist would say no. Being a realist I have to say: I don’t know.”
She was visibly disappointed by my answer. “I wish I could just know for sure, I wish I was convinced it was worth it.”
“You can only be sure of one thing Callie, and that is that you will definitely fail if you don’t try at all,” I said, with a confidence that reminded me of those people on Youtube that pretended to be motivational speakers.
She paid close attention to the birds tussling on the other side of the glass. She followed every movement with her eyes, completely absorbed, as if she was watching a Broadway play. “My mother was a Playboy bunny you know, back in the sixties. Long legged, beautiful Californian blonde. She met my dad on a trip she took to New York, at a bar in Manhattan. He was a handsome, muscular factory worker, with big ambitions and a bigger heart. He was sitting on a corner, sipping on his usual bourbon, when she walked in and ordered a Cosmo. He immediately recognized her, and two drinks later he built enough strength to go over and introduce himself. Daddy says it was love at first sight, Mom doesn’t. Either way they got married quick, six months after that day. He quit his job a few months later and began investing some of mom’s money into several ventures; he always had good business sense and worked very hard. Five years later he was on his way to building a manufacturing empire, and quickly expanded from New York to LA, and then overseas to the Philippines. Mom never had to work again.
After I was born Mom became the typical housewife and Daddy continued to grow the business. Then my two brothers came along, Jake and Marlo. It wasn’t a bad childhood initially, but Mom, not having much experience taking care of a home, would get easily overwhelmed and anxious having to handle everything by herself. I honestly think she really missed her playmate years, the attention, the fame, the fact that every day was a surprise; you never knew what it was going to bring. She missed being young and vibrant and free, having something to constantly look forward to. And now there she was, playing house with a husband that was never home and three young kids. Every moment was scripted with the conspicuous boredom of a life that, like a video tape, would rewind at night and replay all over again the next day. So, she started a habit of her own. She would take care of all the chores by six in the afternoon, and by seven she would have her first glass of wine. Two bottles later she would be passed out in bed, usually by nine. That routine also played over every single day, without exception, and with Daddy being at work until late at night, we were pretty much on our own all that time. Jake and Marlo were younger, and they were boys. Mom was all I had, she was the one person I could truly relate to, so I became very lonely.” She took a sip of the now lukewarm coffee.
“There was a boy named Chad that lived right next door from us. Most afternoons, after mom was in bed, Chad would sneak in through my bedroom window and we would play. I liked the company, even though I knew he wasn’t that great. He was a couple of years older than me and had already earned a pretty devious reputation in school. A few times I had to stop his hands from touching forbidden places, but he was persistent and pushy, and it eventually paid off. I was afraid he would stop showing up and I would have to once again spend my afternoons in solitude. Then one day he brought a few pills he had stolen from his parent’s medicine cabinet, and told me to take one. I was confused, I told him I wasn’t sick,” she chortled. “I was so innocent back then. He said that it wasn’t that kind of pill, and told me to trust him. I took one, he took two, and just like that, it all began. As soon as that pill kicked in and the feeling traveled through my body, I fell in love with the high, more than I have ever loved a man, or anyone, in fact. That day Chad had his way with me and I didn’t care. I didn’t care that he fondled me and raped me and made me bleed like an animal, that he choked me to the point that I almost fainted and that he left bruises all over my body. It didn’t matter, because to me that day had been a gift. From that moment, I started chasing the feeling that pill gave me, and I haven’t stopped ever since.
A few years later, getting through High School was simple. It was easy for the daughter of a model to use her genetic advantages to get whatever she wanted. It always worked on the guys that had access to the drugs I wanted. When I graduated and went to college, Daddy put me on the payroll for the company, so I would automatically receive a paycheck every month to pay my expenses. He said that his little girl would always be taken care of, and he meant it. He wanted me to have what he never did. It was enough money to feed a family of four, but my roommate and I would live on ramen noodles and pasta, so we could spend the rest of the money on cocaine for her and pills for me. It was a crazy time.
First overdose happened at twenty-two. I was on three 80mg Oxys and, I don’t remember exactly, but at least four Xanax bars. Then came rehab, and then my first suicide attempt. My life took such a sharp turn, so quick, that I initially had a very hard time accepting it, but a few months later I was getting better, or so I thought anyway.
Then for a while I was free again, and after a year Daddy restored my payroll checks, thinking I was ok. I was twenty-five when I met Phil, another pill junkie, and long story short, we enabled each other in the messiest of relationships, until he died next to me, overdosed on Vicodin. Then came another suicide attempt” – she took a sip – “but when you develop such a tolerance for pills, it’s kind of hard to accurately decipher how many are going to kill you.
“I moved back in with my parents and tried to keep it straight for a while, failed miserably. Ended up in rehab again, and again after that. That’s when Daddy completely cut me off for the first time, so I had to resort to using my genetic advantages again, and started stripping. By that time, the habit got so expensive that dancing wasn’t enough, so I started taking clients home after shifts. I became a full-service escort; I would provide the sex, they provided the drugs. Got arrested a couple of times for solicitation, and got raped more than once,” she raised the Styrofoam cup to take another sip of coffee and her hand shook, while a tear barely missed falling inside of it. “It was a dark time, Jay, a dark time.”
“Callie, I’m so sorry,” I whispered.
“And now I’m here,” she managed a haggard smile. “Daddy is negotiating my admittance to a facility in Orlando, The Sunrise Center. They want a fifteen-thousand-dollar deposit, Daddy wants to bring it down to ten. He’s a great businessman, he’ll get it done,” she said, finishing what was left of her the coffee.
“And then?” I asked.
“And then another attempt at making better choices, and I have the feeling this chance is my last,” she said.