Back in the car with a headache and bad breath. We're heading north and west to Minnesota. My Father made some calls and got me into a Clinic and I don't have any other options, so I agree to spend some time there and for now I'm fine with it. It's getting colder.
My face has gotten worse and it is hideously swollen. I have trouble speaking, eating, drinking, smoking. I have yet to look in a mirror.
We stop in Minneapolis to see my older Brother. He moved there after getting divorced and he knows how to get to the Clinic. He sits with me in the backseat and he holds my hand and it helps because I'm scared.
We pull into the Parking Lot and park the car and I finish a bottle and we get out and we start walking toward the Entrance of the Clinic. Me and my Brother and my Mother and my Father. My entire Family. Going to the Clinic.
I stop and they stop with me. I stare at the Buildings. Low and long and connected. Functional. Simple. Menacing.
I want to run or die or get fucked up. I want to be blind and dumb and have no heart. I want to crawl in a hole and never come out. I want to wipe my existence straight off the map. Straight off the fucking map. I take a deep breath.
We enter a small Waiting Room. A woman sits behind a desk reading a fashion magazine. She looks up.
May I help you?
My Father steps forward and speaks with her as my Mother and Brother and I find chairs and sit in them.
I'm shaking. My hands and my feet and my lips and my chest. Shaking. For any number of reasons.
Mother and Brother move next to me and they take my hands and they hold them and they can feel what is happening to me. We look at the floor and we don't speak. We wait and we hold hands and we breathe and we think.
My Father finishes with the woman and he turns around and he stands in front of us. He looks happy and the woman is on the phone. He kneels down.
They're gonna check you in now.
You're gonna be fine. This is a good place. The best place.
That's what I hear.
I guess so.
We stand and we move toward a small Room where a man sits behind a desk with a computer. He meets us at the door.
I'm sorry, but you have to leave him here.
My Father nods.
We'll check him in and you can call later to make sure he's all right.
My Mother breaks down.
He's in the right place. Don't worry.
My Brother looks away.
He's in the right place.
I turn and they hug me. One at a time and hold tight. Squeezing and holding, I show them what I can. I turn and without a word I walk into the Room and the man shuts the door and they're gone.
The man shows me a chair and returns to his desk. He smiles.
How are you?
How do I look?
I feel worse.
Your name is James. You're twenty-three. You live in North Carolina.
You're going to stay with us for a while. You okay with that?
Do you know anything about this Facility?
Do you want to know anything?
I don't care.
He smiles, stares at me for a moment. He speaks.
We are the oldest Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility in the World. We were founded in 1949 in an old house that sat on the land where these Buildings, and there are thirty-two interconnected Buildings here, sit now. We have treated over twenty thousand Patients. We have the highest success rate of any Facility in the World. At any given time, there are between two hundred and two hundred and fifty Patients spread through six Units, three of which house men and three of which house women. We believe that Patients should stay here for as long a term as they need, not something as specific as a twenty-eight day Program. Although it is expensive to come here, many of our Patients are here on scholarships that we fund and through subsidies that we support. We have an endowment of several hundred million dollars. We not only treat Patients, we are also one the leading Research and Educational Institutions in the field of Addiction Studies. You should consider yourself fortunate to be here and you should be excited to start a new chapter in your life.
Excerpted from A Million Little Pieces by James Frey Copyright© 2003 by James Frey. Excerpted by permission of Nan A. Talese, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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