By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Michael looks out his office window for a bit. “Anyway, she met people, and she took a number of lovers and so forth when I was away. This was the ‘70s, free-love time, sort of these utopian ideas. Instinctively it didn’t feel right, but somehow you‘re supposed to do that, because it’s modern times or something, or seems like it, so I didn‘t make that much of a fuss about it. But she got involved with the most awful people, people in motorcycle gangs and . . . She was caring for our infant son, who while she was off doing things was on his own, and he shouldn’t have been. He was quite neglected, I‘m afraid, while I was off at sea.”
He pauses, and when he begins speaking again, does not stop for 40 minutes.
“Anyway, I didn’t want to see my marriage wrecked, so we got back together again. I had two more years at MIT to finish my Ph.D., so we moved up to Boston, into university campus housing for married students. It was a nice little apartment complex with a playground in the middle for the small children. It should have been really a good place for us to be at the time, but at that point it became clear that she was really having a problem drinking. She would drink almost a bottle of liquor a day. Usually hiding it, you know, because we didn‘t have that much money and the expense would be obvious. She would sell things, my books and silverware and stuff like that, hoping I wouldn’t notice, and she‘d buy herself alcohol. I gather that our son was . . . somewhat neglected. At one point some social workers came around and complained that he’d been left outside in the icy weather without a jacket and so forth. Our son spent some time at a preschool, and they noticed that he was a bit slow learning to speak. I suspect it‘s because he was left alone so much of the time, he just didn’t have anyone to talk to, because he was always locked in his room. Well, not locked in, there was a door open, but he was off by himself most of the time.
”By the way, Nancy‘s father was an alcoholic in a sense. Not a debilitative alcoholic, he just couldn’t keep away from drinking in the evening; if he didn‘t drink, he just became unbearable, nervous and angry. So he was always drinking, but he was always under control, too. In most respects, Nancy was a functioning alcoholic at that point, too, except she didn’t have any function to do. She stayed at home, she didn‘t have to work, she was supported.
“Anyway, when we came to California, over the next few years things really began deteriorating rapidly. She would just consume enormous amounts of alcohol. There would be times I would come home and I’d find her, it was like she had died or something, she couldn‘t move, or be awakened. It was really scary at times. Then she’d get into this routine where every day she would sleep until noon, then she would drink again and become really euphoric by late afternoon, and then a couple of hours later she‘d become an angry tyrant, screaming and throwing things. That would persist well into the night, probably until 2 or 3 in the morning; I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep. She would always be attacking me, throwing plates and knives, you name it, anything she could get her hands on. I‘d finally give up and pack it in and go rent a motel room just so I could sleep.
”Eventually, it became clear something had to be done, and I wasn’t sure what, but I got myself an apartment and moved out. I guess it was about that point she agreed to go into treatment. She spent a month in a hospital in Marina del Rey; they dried her out and counseled her and so forth. I saw her every day. But she began drinking as soon as she got out. She was hiding it. I‘d come into the house and she’d have a tin of soup or something, and the bottom had been taken out, and underneath there was a glass of something. She‘d be drinking all the time, but pretending she wasn’t.
“After we finally split and divorced, she almost immediately remarried an old man who was living in Santa Monica. This old man, who was obviously very poor, managed to persuade her that he was actually very rich and he was going to buy her a Mercedes and take her all kinds of places, when the reality was he was some kind of retired bricklayer on welfare or something. But she married him, and they lived together for quite a long time, and then she drove him off, I guess with her alcoholism, until he left her with his welfare apartment right there in Santa Monica.