The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start murdering the others. The novel is set to release in Fall 2016.
Reader discretion is advised. Some of this content may be profane and not appropriate for readers under the age if 18.
Craig noted the addicts were far more restless than usual – not that he could blame them. Assemblyman Pendergrass lay dead on a morgue slab. If they weren’t upset he would have wondered about their humanity except most addicts were more concerned with their cravings than anything else.
Addiction is a nasty business. Addicts – all they care about is their next fix. Their next high. Addiction trumps love, family, work – everything important to most people. Addiction starts to become a best friend. It talks to you. It tells you “use me,” “get high” “forget everybody else”. Addiction is a self-absorbed, taken-over-your-life vice that destroys everything in its path. Addicts don’t care about anything or anyone but their drug of choice. And once addicted and until that addiction is beat, an addict will never care about anything else but the next high.
Straight people don’t understand the urge to use. Straight people don’t understand how addicts feel. They work from their perspective of normalcy – eat, drink, go to work, live life. Addicts live from their perspectives – get high, and when can I get high again? The two thought processes don’t match. Addicts need enablers and fellow users to continue their lifestyles. Straight people are afraid for addicts. They are afraid their addict family member, lover or friend will kill themselves. They’re afraid that the addict will never return to them. The two worlds clash in a division of addiction vs. non-addiction, love of substance vs. love of life. It’s a battle where the substance wins until the substance destroys all. And once all is destroyed (AKA rock bottom) nothing will change. And change will only come upon awakening from the substance-induced coma.
Craig should know. He was a former Oxycontin addict. The heavy-duty prescription pain killer almost turned his once neat and tidy life into a war zone. He got “embedded with the troops,” meaning to sustain his addiction he started going out with local gang members at age 18 to break into pharmacies. If it hadn’t been for his Uncle Joe, a local priest, Craig surmised he would be dead and six-feet under by now.
Uncle Joe had one day pulled his wayward nephew aside after Catechism. They walked out into the wide hallways outside of the rectory. Craig remembered Joe wearing a short-sleeved black shirt and the priest’s collar. Maybe Uncle Joe would have done this in confessional, but Craig’s father Ike had personally asked Joe to be his son’s guiding light but not his priest. Craig wasn’t particularly into religion anyway – well, not then anyhow.
“Can I ask you something?” Joe inquired in his usual quiet manner.
“Yeah,” replied Craig in a twitchy, uncomfortable way. He was needing a new fix, and this conversation seemed like it might take too long – his itch might become a heavy-duty scratch.
“What are you doing?”
“With your life?”
“Huh?” Craig didn’t want to have this conversation. His left foot was pointed toward the street-end of the hallway.
“Nephew! Your life?”
“Ah, living,” came his smart-ass reply.
Joe grabbed the young man by both shoulders and stared him right into his blood-shot eyes. “God has given you a gift,” he said and looked down at his emaciated body. “You chose to destroy that gift with that poison. What’s it going to take? Your death in some sewer infested with rodents to wake you up? Hmm? Because it’s your choice. You’re making this choice over life. Is that what you really want to do?”
Craig didn’t know whether it was the breeze that kicked up when Joe said it or the fact that his stomach wretched and he blew the scrambled eggs and chew onto his uncle’s black shoes, but whatever it was Craig never used again. Sometimes life comes with defining moments, and really nasty barf on your uncle’s shoes. Regardless, Craig sobered up. He also found his life’s path – to help other addicts find a new life. A better life – the way his uncle woke him up.
Now Craig found himself staring at seven other newly sober addicts who were alarmed over the news that a murder took place. Questions. They all had questions. Craig had no answers, because there were yet to be any answers. Those detectives, Marcus and Vincent had requested private interviews with the group. Not all of them – especially Darian and Kevin seemed terribly thrilled to be being put under suspicion of anything. Kendra though as usual was quiet and withdrawn. Craig was wondering if maybe she needed antidepressants like Paxcel or Lexapro or even Zoloft to shift out of this near catatonic state she was constantly in.
“Darian, I understand you don’t want to meet with the police, but they need to interview everyone who was in the building that night,” said Craig to the surly teenager.
Darian looked down and was picking at her gnawed-down fingernails. She was like a mouse constantly nibbling her nails to a nub. It was an ugly, dirty nervous habit. “I ain’t gonna mess with no detectives. I always get it up the ass from them dudes. Fuckers!”
“What have we discussed about language?” prompted Craig.
“Jesus Christ,” cried Kevin Sanders. “We’re potential witnesses to a murder, and you’re all twisted up about ‘language’? You are certified nuts!”
“How’d he die?” interjected Frank.
“Stabbing,” replied Pete.
“Really?” brightened up Kevin.
“Where’d you get your info from?” asked Craig of Pete.
Pete chuckled in amusement, “Your staff’s not so closed mouthed. What? Those orderlies were like bitching about cleaning up the mess.”
“Mess?” asked Kendra with a sudden interest.
“Well, honey most stabbings ain’t clean,” replied Darian as she stuck another finger in her mouth and chewed back and forth.
“Should we be worried?” asked Deacon feeling alarmed.
“No, we’re going to keep your wings closed up when we’re not in session – for your own protection, of course,” replied Craig.
“Of course,” Pete said in a sarcastic tone.
“Can we please get to group now,” Pete all of a sudden said. “I came here to get clean not investigate murder.”
“Do you want to talk about how you’re all feeling? You’re a week into detox. Congratulations.”
“Oh well thank you,” Pete remarked. “I feel so great. Can’t wait to get out and use some more. Love your program.”
“No one expects you to be over the cravings in a week,” assured Craig.
“You know what I want?” asked Darian. “A big bag of meth, a good fuck, and a smoke! Fuck rehab.”
“Yeah,” echoed Deacon. “I want to call my girlfriend.”
“Oh fuck me,” cried Kevin. “When are you going to stop pissing on and on about your girlfriend? You’re like this little pansy puss. Oh Violet, boo fucking hoo.”
“That’s very assertive of you, Kevin,” said Craig.
“Fuck off,” cried Deacon. “You don’t know what it’s like to be in love.”
“Neither do you,” said Frank. “Real love has nothing to do with obsession.”
“Very good Frank,” said Craig.
“Are you saying I didn’t love her?” cried Deacon.
“Deacon, I think what Frank is saying is that perhaps you should evaluate your feelings. Did you really love a girl who rejected you? Treated you badly? Is that love? Did your mother or father treat each other poorly? As a boy, did you see that as love?”
“My whole family loved on me,” Darian suddenly said. “Yeah, they banged me after the boys paid me. Only they got freebies.”
Deacon started sobbing. He looked down in shame. Craig could see something was brewing on this topic. He remembered from the file his father had killed his mother. The room lapsed into silence.
“Deacon, let’s resume this discussion in your daily session,” said Craig.
After a tempestuous discussion, the group adjourned. Deacon walked out into the hallway to Craig who was aware he was in deep pain.
“I hate women,” declared Deacon.
Kendra who was staring out the window close by turned and gave Deacon the strangest look. “You don’t think women hate you, too?”
“Um, let’s not …” Craig began to say.
Deacon aggressively turned on Kendra. “Shut up you pouty little mouse bitch.”
Kendra stood her ground in a most surprising way. “Men like you,” she spat on his shoe. “You think you can control women. Treat us like toys. Have sex with us. Hit us if we don’t comply. Destroy our hearts. You think we’re just things. Things meant to please or displease you. Get this, we’re human beings. You know what that feels like?”
Deacon stepped back in total shock. The quiet and distraught woman had a shockingly loud and strong message. He felt his dick grow hard. She turned him on. He became flustered in the flurry of the mixed feelings – fuck her or punch her? Maybe that was the root expression of little boys who pulled ponytails of little girls they liked. Get her attention if you can’t get in her pants. It didn’t matter anyway. Kendra was done. She turned heel and headed toward the elevator to return to her room.
Craig thought but didn’t say, “Shit! I want a smoke.”
Deacon only snarled at Craig and headed on his way. Craig shook his head.