Pete Mulligan stepped out of a long, black stretch limo in front the St. John Rehab Center located in Portland, Oregon. Nestled in the redwoods and shaded by the forest, the California Craftsman-style house had a long circular driveway with a three-tiered fountain out front that watered spilled over the sides to make a soft flowing noise. In front of the windows grew purple, yellow and pink flowers surrounded by lush ferns. The rehab center looked more five-star resort than treatment facility for the mentally ill and substance abuse addicts. The only giveaway was the check-in booth located in front of two large redwood doors that had keypad locks on them.
Pete stood out front while his chauffeur unloaded the trunk. He stared up at the looming redwood doors that touched the ceiling. Pete was a typical over-privileged Hollywood executive who had produced last year’s superhero blockbuster at Warner Bros. studio. Unfortunately Pete was also a Hollywood cliché. He had first developed a cocaine problem followed by severe alcoholism.
Like most successful Hollywood executives who got rich too young and too fast, he had never developed a sense of right and wrong. He was Hollywood royalty, and his father had been a top dog at MGM Studios back in the day. His father Michael P. Mulligan (P for Peter which is how Pete got his name) also had an alcohol problem and was famous for his drug-infused orgies on the Pacific Palisades estate with the incredible oceanfront view.
Pete was always on hand to fuck every starlet wanna-be with either real or bleached blond hair, fake tits, and noses that all looked identical since they all visited the same plastic surgeon. It wasn’t long after the age of 16 that Pete’s drug habit went from casual “snow bunny” fests to a nagging need to get high at 7:00 a.m. just to get out of bed. The alcohol problem got started during his college days at UCLA where he spent more time wasted on the frat house sofa than he did in class. How he managed to skate by on a C+ average was a mystery to everyone who knew him. Some of his “brothers” felt certain Pete hired some geeky redheaded guy he started blowing to take his tests.
Pete though was uncannily handsome with dark red hair, darkly tanned skinned that was lightly freckled, and chiseled cheeks. He was tall at 6’ 2” and had that perfect Ken Doll-type build with broad shoulders, washboard abs, and long lean, muscular legs. He worked out just enough to keep his body in tight shape. He wasn’t gay. He fancied himself pansexual. Most of his real friends knew he was hetero and used women and men to get his way. Those true friends only consisted of Cooper Mills, a blonde cohort with a slightly pudgy, stalky build and Jay Ryan Ryan (yes, double middle and last name included) who they all called RR who was short, but well-built with dark skin, eyes and hair.
Too many years of drug abuse, bad habits and reckless behavior resulted in his new home at the rehab center in which for the next six months he would as Judge Stein who oversaw the case said, “Hopefully rediscover his humanity.”
The case that landed Pete in rehab had been based on the death of a child who was left unsupervised in his luxury tudor-style mansion in Beverly Hills. The judge had given Pete two choices: go to rehab or go to prison. For Mr. Mulligan had killed his three-year-old niece Lisanne when he left cocaine on his bathroom counter. The unsupervised toddler had dumped it in her mouth. No amount of CPR had revived the small child, and Pete’s sister Bethanney had gone utterly ballistic as most bereaved mothers tended to do.
Of course, Bethanney had been doing the drugs with her brother that day and had no business bringing the baby with her. The only reason the little one was even left alone was because Pete and his sister were too high to notice she had disappeared from the room. Three hours later and one dead toddler on the bathroom floor, and Bethanney accused her brother of “murdering her baby.”
The judge slapped Bethanney back and she was sentenced to community service while the spoiled and rich Pete was unable to gain sympathy from anyone on the jury. After all, a toddler was dead – and dead babies didn’t play well in front of any jury. All Pete’s lawyer could do was plea-bargain a brief visit to the county jail followed by six months in rehab. Pete’s lawyer only got that much of a reduced sentence because he played golf with the judge’s pediatrician … and they slipped a hefty bribe through the system.
Now here Pete stood. His chauffeur had left his luggage in front of the doors. Pete’s family were no longer speaking to him. He couldn’t blame them. His niece was dead. How he felt about it he wasn’t sure anymore. After so many months of courtrooms and lawyers he mostly felt tired. The idea of spending another six months rehashing his shit didn’t sound appealing either. His brief stint at the county jail was where he went through detox vomiting into a steel toilette and sweating on the top bunk of a three-tiered bed. He had just wished for a peaceful night’s sleep, but Quincy Fong, the diminutive Asian who had swiped his company’s bank accounts, snored like a giant fat guy. On the second bunk was Roy Boss, a Mexican gangster who had gotten busted for shooting a “civilian” during a Fat Boy Burger robbery in Montecito. Boss had spoken broken English and had terrible allergies that left him snorting and snuffing at night. So Pete couldn’t remember the last time he slept soundly.
A woman wearing bright pink scrubs walked out of the two doors with her hands in her pockets. She was a reasonably attractive middle-aged, brown-haired lady with soft brown eyes and a kind smile.
“You must be Mr. Mulligan. My name is Ms. Fisher.” she extended her hand, which Pete shook. “We’ve got a very sound program here. Our man Mr. Bradley will take your luggage to your room. Since you won’t be going through detox here, we’ll be getting you right into orientation.”
“Call me Pete,” he said quietly.
“I’m sorry Mr. Mulligan we can’t do that.”
Pete frowned, and Ms. Fisher motioned for him to follow her. She disappeared through the big doors. As Pete walked into the door’s shadows, he paused. He thought he was either walking through the doors of hell or entering the next phase of his life. Since Pete was a jaded, skeptical young man he figured it was more likely a hellish place where you were forced to face your life – and this prospect made him want to use. But oh well. He had no drugs left, half of his money taken by his sister in a civil suit, and a string of fuck-ups to make just about anyone ashamed.
He sighed and entered …