The Return From The Valley of The Kings

It would be safe as a reader to assume I didn’t return to that godforsaken shit hole after I ended that tour in Alaska, for more reasons other than just fucking up my leg and the horrendous company, and despite the cute name given to the place, The Valley of The Kings; I had made a ton of money.  Well a ton of money for me, as a young twenty-some year old, and there was so much cocaine to blow up!  A couple of nights after I returned home from Alaska, I went to a friend’s birthday party at some fancy restaurant where a bunch of homies were.  I met an old but dear friend of mine who, in the time I was gone, had started dating this babely gal.  We all hit it off as if no time had passed.  He offered me a job as well as some blow and then the shit show began.  For the next couple of years, this friend, his old lady and I were inseparable.  We drank and partied almost every day.  Me, with the chunk of cash burning a hole in my pocket and all of us with an insatiable hunger for getting all kinds of fucked up, we did just that.  There would be nights where we didn’t even really want to get fucked up but decided “hey what the hell let’s get two eight balls!”  There’d be nights where I was so fucked up on horse tranquilizers that I couldn’t even get off the couch, and my buddy would have to hold the straw and the CD case with lines on it so all would have to do was inhale.  What a solid friend, hey?  Sometimes I would refer to him as “Coach”, cause I felt like a teenage swimmer who really wanted to make the national team, but lacked the motivation to train hard enough and needed a coach to push me to reach my full potential… except with drugs, you know? 

    I know it sounds like we were just straight up degenerates, and don’t get me wrong we were, but we were also responsible.  Coach was a successful tradesman who managed a construction company and I was his right-hand man, we went to work every morning without fail and worked the whole day through.  Later on, I ended up being handed the manager’s position when Coach moved on to another company.  I was far more lax in my approach to managing.  I would make sure I had my managerial bottle of vodka in my truck at all times, just in case I had a long drive to a job site or a meeting with a customer.  Despite my savage alcoholism I was still banging out projects on time and done right.  I never really got in too much trouble for being a piss tank at work.  I did crash the truck once on the way home from a bar, but when the owner saw it I just blamed it on my neighbour, who I said shared a driveway with me, and my boss took that as truth so that worked out.  One day I was returning from a job three hours away from home and knew I’d get thirsty on the drive home, so I stopped before I left and snagged a twenty-six of gin and some sunflower seeds.  I guess I was thirstier than I expected because, and this is what I was told later on by the sober passenger, I stopped again to top up my supply with another bottle.  Apparently, I made it safe and sound to the parking lot of the shop before I passed the fuck out.  I woke up in Coach’s house midday the next day, he regaled me with the story of the boss’s wife stopping by the shop and seeing me drunk as a fucking skunk, with the truck still running, midday, fast a fucking sleep with the bottle next to me.  This whole story was told over a couple of glasses of gin, just to shake the cobwebs off.  Luckily for me, there were no real repercussions to my savagery; my boss simply called me into his office and quietly said: “A few road pops are ok, but let’s stay away from the hard stuff hey?”  Now that I think of this I can’t remember if this happened before Alaska or afterwards.  Either way, you get the idea; it was a pretty gnarly twenties, and don’t worry, it gets better.

    Throughout the next few years, I progressed with this style of pure debauchery.  I too moved companies later on to follow Coach.  There I found a whole new fucking playground full of playmates to get all kinds of fucked up with.  At this new shop, the shift would end when one of the employees would walk through the door with forty beers and place them on my workbench.  We would all crowd around and dig in like a pack of fucking hyenas on some poor zebra or some shit; basically an MGD massacre daily.  Later on, I became the guy who picked up the booze just so I could get a little mickey of vodka or something a little stronger to supplement my six per cent beer buzz.  That certainly worked out for me: I always enjoyed the drive home in the summer sun, smoking a cigarette with a solid buzz/ completely-seeing-double on.  Oh, how sweet that memory is and how terrible the mornings were.   

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Romulus

I guess most of my twenties were spent in much the same way as my later teen years.  Or I guess that’s what I choose to remember them like.  I moved a few places; lived in Montreal for a spell, was pretty well drunk on cheap ass whiskey most every day.  That made for a pretty sticky gross summer.  I remember the temperature being upwards of thirty degrees Celsius.  That, coupled with immense amounts of this shitty cheap, plug your fucking nose and try not to gag whiskey, boy did I stink like shit every day.  This long-haired tattooed degenerate wandering the Avenue du Parc drunker than all fucking freedom wearing a Dolce and Gabbana tuxedo, sweating through the gosh damn collar of a super pristine button down.  That too would have been a sight.  I never was good with the heat, and sweating off a savage drunk…no wonder I didn’t get laid. 

   Also in my twenties, I lived in Alaska.  I worked at the base of a glacier in a camp only accessible by helicopter; in a gold mine on an exploration drilling rig.  The work was fucking bullshit.  The people I worked with were the scum of the fucking earth; a bunch of red neck, knuckle dragging, mouth breathing, none for brains, fucking troglodytes.  I can’t say I enjoyed any one of them.  It was supposed to be a dry camp, meaning there was supposed to be no hooch or drugs or whatever up there.  Luckily for all the booze hounds and drillers with lifelong drug habits, the helicopter pilots weren’t as strict as management would have liked them to be.  Though the price of a sixty pounder of booze was at least double the price it didn’t stop anyone really from riding the “let’s get pissed up” train.  One night during our shift our drill pipe got stuck in some shifting rock (or something I wasn’t really paying attention, I checked out after day seven) so the driller I was with and I headed down the mountain on our piece of shit snow machines and back to camp. 

When we arrived back at the camp we went into the “dry” as it was called, where we stripped out of our oily, dirty fucking rags and put half-decent shit on to go into our rooms, when low and behold the driller pulls from his bag a sixty of low-grade whiskey… Well, this fool and I sat there for a few hours passing this monstrous bottle back on fourth suckling on it like Romulus on the teat of the mother wolf.  When I had ensured myself that I was right gone I decided it was probably a good time to head to bed. 

There was only one real obstacle left, stairs.  There was a small ramp leaving the dry and a small flight perpendicular to the end of the ramp dry leading to the cabin house where our rooms were.  My navigation skills, as well as my motor skills, would be put to the test for it was a tricky fucking task when you are seeing double off piss poor whiskey, up in the middle of fucking who cares mountain.  Needless to say, it was a complete horror show, a real show of backwards pageantry on my part.  In my defence, I did make it two steps down the ramp before I totally gave up on balance.  I slide the remainder of the way down the ramp like an adult beer league curler who pre-gamed a little too hard.  In a split second I decided the best course of action when sliding down an icy ramp drunker than all get out, in the middle of the night, in the middle of no fucking where, with no nurses or medical staff on site whatsoever, was to put my left leg out and try to stop my sliding by jamming my foot in the stringer of the stairs leading to the cabin. 

They say in rehab “first thought wrong”, yeah thanks a fucking lot could have used that then!  Totally a bad idea; I instantly dislocated my left knee as well as popped my knee cap out of place right then and there.  There is a silver lining, I was shit faced so it didn’t hurt too bad.  After I laid on the ground for a bit collecting my thoughts and chuckling to myself about how absolutely ridiculous that probably looked I basically dragged myself to the shower room.  I knew there would be no medical staff there to help me in the morning and I didn’t want to get caught all pissed up I thought the best course of action was to play field doctor and pop that cock sucker back into place.  I got into the bathrooms, ran the shower hot, stripped down naked as a jaybird, crawled in, took a breather and gave it a go.  It made a grotesque popping sound and then came the immense pain and then nothing.  Nothing until I heard someone yelling at me saying I was flooding the bathroom.  I guess after I had my time playing doctor I passed out on the standing shower drain, whether it was from the whiskey or whether it was from the pain or a combination I don’t know.  I didn’t really care, all I could think about is that I’d have to go to fucking work the next day and that would be absolutely brutal. 

The next day came and yes, I did go to work and that too was a funny story.  I had told the fellow I was working with before our shift what had happened, as well as another mouth breather that was heading up to our rig with us to help un-stick the drill pipe, so they knew I was in rough shape.  Even with that knowledge or maybe because of it, they rode me fucking hard that morning, they were getting me to load this side by side ATV with gas and generators and the whole fucking lot.  I should say a lot of young guys who came up there and realizing how hard the work was would fake an injury to get sent home with some hope of not being called a pussy or something.  In this case, I was actually in screaming pain and didn’t want to go home. 

We were riding through this shanty village camp area on our way up to the drill site and at the top of this super fucking steep base of a mountain covered in a couple of feet of snow.  I was sitting in the back box of the side by side, surrounded by jerry cans of diesel and gasoline and a generator as these red necks drove up to the base of the hill.  They sat for a minute at the bottom of the mountainside as if to eye up this pending fuck around of reaching our destination.  I remember one of them looking back at me and said “better hold on”, or something that didn’t instill a lot of confidence.  The driver fucking honked on her and we started flying up this jammer.  Not only was it about a forty-five-degree angle but it was bumpier than all get out.  We were about halfway up this snow covered roller coaster fuck show when the box of the side by side came unlatched and tipped backwards spilling its contents down the mountainside, myself included.  Remember now, I am savagely hung over, have a bunk knee and am tumbling down a snow-covered mountain being chased by tanks of fuel and a huge generator. 

After I stopped rolling I stood up best I could, looking like a Frosty the drunk, homeless snowman, and looked to see if my compatriots were driving down to get me or even stopped.  Well, remember how I said I wasn’t a fan of any of those pieces of shit, here’s why.  Typically, in the real world, when someone accidentally falls out of a moving vehicle the driver of said vehicle would stop and see if the individual who fell was alright.  Not in this place God obviously forgot about; those fucking idiots just kept on keeping on right up to the drill site.  Lucky for them the drill site was still within yelling distance so that they could say “Fucking run and don’t forget the shit that fell out and fucking hurry!”  Solid dudes…Yep Solid.

First One’s Free

I was fifteen or sixteen when I had my first real drink, not the few drops that linger in the bottom of bottles found in your neighbours’ shed out back of their house. I was at a hardcore show in the town I grew up in with my cousin, well not my real cousin, just a friend of my parent’s kid kind of thing. Being as I was a wannabe rough and tumble hardcore teenager when she, my cousin, and her gal pal pulled out a mickey of whatever it was and offered me a drink behind a cluster of pine trees, I would have been a pussy not to say yes. Furthermore, I felt it necessary to show, despite my inexperience, how comfortable I was with this lifestyle. So, and coming as a shock to all parties involved myself included, I chugged the whole fucking thing with one to-the-mouth (as I later called it). This was followed by my cousin and her girlfriend both scolding me, for I had drunk all of their allotted “concert hooch”. After this verbal chastisement, and not unlike a macho douche bag showing off for some babes on his motorcycle only to have it stall, I walked off this terrible taste in my mouth and the sick feeling in my stomach while lighting a cigarette. Of course with that amount of alcohol consumed at once the effects aren’t apparent right away, but once I had puffed away my cigarette and reentered the venue, and hearing the screaming, the crashing of drum cymbals and smelling the dank sweat of teenage angst I became all kinds of fucked up. There was not much I could do at this point besides sit on a filthy couch in the back of the gymnasium the show was being held in, and let this feeling of warmth and looming vomiting wash over me. Needless to say, that is the extent of the memory I have of my first drink.

There was always something about the rock star life that excited me when I was young; this idea of being a depressed alcoholic, drug-addicted prodigy. This mysterious, tortured, brooding soul; or some bullshit like that. So in keeping with this aesthetic, I continued with what I knew I could, in fact, do to start being the person I so wanted to be. I would drink at least every week if not every couple of days. On the weekends at parties, for sure! When all the other knuckle draggers would order a six-pack or some fucking Boones wine, I would order a forty-ounce bottle of vodka and make damn sure I finished it before I got home. I would ensure that this would, in fact, take place by, oh so smartly, throwing the cap away. These nights often would end with me having alcohol poisoning and lying unconscious on a stranger’s bed cold to the touch, or so I’ve been told. Ah, the life of a high school student.

I did all the regular things high school students did– don’t get me wrong. I hung out with friends, crushing beers while driving in the country. I had a girlfriend whose house I would show up to just buzzed enough to maybe get lucky. I had a job there for a while, I mowed the lawn for a summer on this big John Deere mower. The yard took about four or five hours to mow so luckily in the garage where the mower was kept there always was a cache of hooch. Always a different variety and I never knew whose it was but I took it anyways. I would buzz (no pun intended) around this huge estate at full speed on the mower, blaring hardcore music and getting pissed. By the time I would leave and get into my vehicle to drive down the long driveway leading back to the road, it would hit me just how shit-faced I was. This was a time for me when all these shenanigans were still super duper fun.

I remember one day at the end of high school when I was out on a paved country road riding my skateboard down hills. I had chosen a cut off sleeve tee-shirt with a big skull and crossed swords and a pair of camouflage shorts to ride in. Of course, I fell pretty bad. My leg looked like ground chicken as well as my arm and even a little on my face. Luckily for me, I was a five-minute drive to my once girlfriend’s house. When I got there dripping blood my ex, shocked to see me, was more than willing to help me out. She didn’t have any bandages but had some disinfectant and whatever other shit I don’t recall. Once she applied all that stuff I just used my bandana that was around my head to cover over the leg wound and took off down the road. I’d have to say I felt like I looked pretty badass as I sat in my SUV wearing what I was wearing and being so fucking beat up, mixing 7up and vodka together in a two-litre bottle, later that afternoon. Once my introductory mixology session was completed I proceeded to chug the whole twenty some ounces of vodka and 7up. As I arrived back at my parent’s house, kind of drunk and hiding it well my parents, in a frantically reminded me that we were leaving on an international flight in less than two hours. Ha! What a hilarious memory that airport experience was for me.

Imagine this seventeen-year-old limping, long-haired hardcore kid dressed as I was, a red bandana barely covering a torn up leg, cuts on his shoulders and face, bleeding, drunk as all-fucking-get-out flying from Canada to Virginia with his unassuming parents, well dressed and well spoken and his nerdy brother. As he stumbles and curses his way through check-in and security and all that other shit you have to do at the airport. What a riot; a real thing of beauty for me to look back on now.

The Farm

So, the day finally came.  The morning started at 4:30 am or some ungodly hour like that.  Rolling out of my comfy bed, touching my feet on the cold hardwood floors, forcing myself to stand and walk to take a piss, brush my teeth, shower etc.  I had a three-hour drive ahead of me in minus 30 degrees Celsius weather.  Needless to say, I was less than enthused.  Furthermore, the destination, as well as the reason for waking up so early in the middle of winter’s cold snap, was less than appealing at this point.  I was on my way to a rehabilitation centre for addicts or a recovery centre or whatever the fuck the “normies” call it.  Basically, all I could think about at the time was I was going to a shit hole with a bunch of junkies, flunkies and never-beens. 

I guess at this point I should mention that I was and am, for all intents and purposes, a savage alcoholic and drug addict.  The last twelve years of my life have been a haze of plastic bottled vodka, eight balls of cocaine; prairie produced acid; who-the-fuck-knows mushrooms, GHB; stolen oxys; East Hastings crack… you get the picture.  Basically, anything I could get my upper-middle-class mitts on that had a buzz that came with it I got in my body by any means. 

I had found out six days prior to this oh so exciting junkie farm adventure that I was accepted and had to be sober for five days before entering treatment.  That was a serious kick in the bag for sure.  I always imagined my entrance to a treatment centre would be prefaced with a big old piss pants blackout drunk.  Unfortunately for me, I had to white knuckle it for shy of another week.  No “one last hurrah” for this cowboy and man did I think of that all one hundred and forty-four hours I waited, minus sleeping and fucking of course. 

I made sure the night before leaving for the centre that I got a fresh pack of cigarettes, for at this centre smoking was prohibited.  I couldn’t believe that news when they told me over the phone.  What kind of place would strip a guy of all the vices he has!  It’s hard enough not drinking around idiots and low-lifes, imagine having to hear all their bullshit sob stories and not being able to dip outside and get a smoke’s worth of reprieve.  If anyone has been in this situation they would be able to guess what happened to those cigarettes I bought the night before on the three-hour car ride.  Well, I smoked damn near all of them.  At least enough to make my face turn green and my stomach say, “Hey bud…you’s probably going to be sick.”  I had my last cigarette parked outside the centre compound and I really had to force the last half of it back.  It’s one of those things you look back on and laugh at yourself and how irrational your thinking can be.  It wasn’t like that cigarette would sustain me through the weeks I’d be without them and if anything just make it worse.

As I was sitting in my vehicle choking back this last cigarette I got a view of this place.  It was a maze of small roads winding through dated brick buildings in a prairie town.  It looked like a place a secret government agency removed limbs from large apes and attached them to humans to create a super soldier.  Or a place where the doctors in their green rubber aprons would experiment on people’s brains in a dimly lit room decorated with all the making of a macabre thriller film.  If nothing else it looked like a compound in Soviet Russia where the intercoms played Tchaikovsky on repeat, while identically dressed broad shouldered women (think Mizz Trundle from the movie Matilda) stomped around with constant scowls. There was nothing fancy about this place.  Nothing like one may see in a television show or movie where some poor unassumingly rich individual gets caught up in a night of drinking and gets a DUI and their world crumbles down and they make a triumphant return to normalcy, through a self-actualizing moment locking eyes with a caged zebra or some shit and decided to go to rehab.  Cheered on by their loving friends and family they turn around at the doors of this beautiful oasis smile a hopeful smile while their eyes say “I’ve got this!”  Knowing upon their graduation they’d be reunited with all they had left and lost, then the fucking credits roll and the audience can only assume the best for this rehabilitated tortured soul.  Nope, nothing like that. 

This was just an old brick building with a flimsy wooden sign; me, a fellow who in the last month had been driven by an ambulance to the hospital due to an overdose, woke up in a detox after a separate hospital field trip, also woke up in a jail cell in a different city than I lived in with no memory of how I got there, where my car was or what city it was exactly,  lost thirty pounds over a month, crashed my car, had my partner leave to the other side of the country and just had given up my nine-month-old labradoodle up for adoption.  There was no hopeful smile really; I did try to joke my way through it as I typically do.  Certainly, no look in my eye that said anything close to “I’ve got this!” if anything my eyes said, “Fuck I wish I had one last hurrah before this bullshit.”

Sickly and longing for preparation day of drinking, (a week or two would have been best) I entered this old brick building and guess what… no fucking Tchaikovsky.

The Jump Off

I guess there is something to be said about being born in a relatively small blue-collar town in the middle of nowhere. The town is basically a go-between two larger cities known really only for its ability to produce tradesmen and oil field bums. It would be uncommon to drive down a street and not see a million fucking diesel trucks bumbling around rolling coal on everyone. Realistically as a teenager finishing senior high, if you didn’t escape this shit hole and go to university you may as well hang up your hat pick up a work belt, strap on your steel toes and call this place home, because you are probably going to die here. I was not much different than that. I barely finished high school; I didn’t much care for the structure, or the individuals I had to take classes with. My interests were elsewhere. I was a musician a real artist, or so I thought. I figured, fuck yeah, I’ll just say “fuck you mom and dad”; drop out of school, become the next whos-or-whats-it musician prick and retire with millions and no STDs whatsoever. Welp, I figured wrong… I did end up graduating from high school, smoked a lot of weed throughout, drank quite a lot and certainly loved ecstasy; I remembered taking these crazy old fucking diet pills before exams that were pretty fun. They didn’t help whatsoever with exams, but it was fun anyway. After I completed high school and my super fun kind of drunk graduation bullshit, I did what any low life does in the town I grew up in and took on a trade. At times I still think that was the worst decision of my life, but the decision has a lot of fucking competition now that I’ve started to compile all these events for this writing exercise.


So where are we at now? I’m a 17-year-old welder and aspiring music douche. Or last of the fucking winners as I later heard it described. I certainly enjoyed the freedom money brought through this new life endeavor I was taking on and by the money I mean the ability to buy at will ecstasy, LSD, mushroom, liquor, cocaine, uppers, downers, yadda-yadda etc. I spent most of my evenings and weekends on the scale of fucked up. It seemed to pass by quite quickly. Though now in reflection it seems to be riddled with tragically hilarious stories of bullshit childish antics.


Throughout this time as a big bad welder dude, I toured around in bands playing all across the country. I never really found much success in it but hell if it wasn’t fun. It was basically an excuse to be drunk and get paid for it. But to be perfectly honest I figured there would be more babes in the picture. That could be for the fact that I was a mouthy SOB who always told people to “get fucked” or some other super charming pickup line. Or maybe it was the fact that I thought I was just so ruggedly handsome that the ladies would just flock to me when in reality the banjo player was the real Fabio of the group. I digress.


Later on after about twelve years of working as a welder and a metal fabricator I decided to go to university, though I had attempted this once before and succeeded as much as one could with zero effort and zero application of time, money or structure and it didn’t help that I lived in a different city as the university I was going to! But anyways I decided to try that whole fuck around again; this time much more successful. I continued on studying and writing and enjoying the whole “I are academic hear me gloat” bullshit. It was all quite liberating; to feel as if I had broken the chains of this middle of nowhere bullshit town that is a cyclical path to the end of life. It was for a spell anyway, for I returned back to the welding shop shortly after finishing school in my home town. Another fucking year spent behind a welding mask day after miserable day.


I forgot to mention. Throughout all of these years, and I do mean all, I was at some level between buzzed and “hold your hand over one of your eyes while you drive so you can see straight because you just puked in the cab of your truck after chugging a bottle of vodka immediately after work and don’t want to lose your license ‘cause that would blow” or “pry my hands off a steering wheel after a four hour long blackout drive on cocaine and ketamine” or best yet “wake up strapped to a hospital bed with no memory and no clothes”. I am a savage alcoholic and drug addict; I’d like to think if there was a scorecard that somehow could tally how “good” of an alcoholic one could be I would be scoring right up there with the best of them, a real fucking gong show of a life; a real dip into the shit pit. Don’t get me wrong it’s not all crummy; I did have lots of fun and I have no real regrets about being what I am and doing the shit that I did but man does it take a toll on your body. I look like a thirty-year-old forty-seven-year-old who has worked of a fishing boat in an oil spill washing with sea water; whatever that means.


In these years and realistically throughout these posts there have been and will be some pretty dicey encounters with different individuals and precarious situations that certainly constitute sharing. I have been quite lucky to have lasted as long as I have given the circumstances and figured it was about time to share them. Some of the stories I have been telling for years like an old barnacle covered, pot bellied sailor and getting yuks out of them most of the time. I still know some of the people in the stories and they remind me every time I see them “remember this time blah blah”.

It has been a fun ride and now it is time to share it.

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