When The Magic Goes…

When The Magic Goes…

By Anonymous



After a few hours of fitful sleep, he woke up one sultry Saturday morning in July, in a fetal position, trembling and shivering. He didn’t want to live any more. He had been drinking until two in the morning, before passing out on the carpet of his study with the last drink spilled beside him.

Well, why not do what he always did each morning. He rolled out of his bed, stumbled down the short corridor, which seemed longer than it was, steadied himself on the walls, till he reached the kitchen. Thank God, there were about two fingers left in the bottle of Cockspur, the cheapest rum one could buy.

He put the bottle to his lips and took a deep swallow, as he had for many mornings, to steady his hands and raise the alcohol level in his blood so that he could function at his job. But this time, it did not work. The magic was gone. His friend in colorful bottles had abandoned him. He poured the rest down the sink, crawled back into bed, shivered and trembled some more. He was still on holiday and didn’t have to return to work for another two weeks.

What now?

When he finally got up, he phoned the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission of the province in which he lived. He phoned the library; perhaps, in his subconscious as professor, he thought that he could find a book to read himself out of his dilemma.

“I am not sure if this is the right number,” he slurred into the phone, when the librarian answered.

“Well,” she said, “it could be. What is the problem?”

His tongue stumbled over his next words: “I drink a lot, and perhaps may need some help.”

“Well,” answered the woman. Don’t hang up. I’ll be right back.”

He was tempted to hang up, but some invisible force, stronger than he, kept his hand from moving. When the woman came back on the line, she said, “O. K. you have an appointment at 1 p.m. downtown in our counselling office.”


Two endless hours later he drove to the ADAC office and filled out a form the receptionist handed him. How much do you drink per day? What and how often? Where? And so on, and so forth… And for the first time in his drinking years, he answered honestly.

When the counsellor came, she looked over his list. “Ehem”, as if to clear her throat, she said: “Based on how you have been going at it. There is only one safe option. The detoxification center.” 

“What! The DETOX center!” He had often wondered what kind of people were in there, as he passed by it two blocks from his work.

“When?” he asked.


“NOW! I can’t. It’s the end of the month and I have bills to pay and laundry to wash.”

She paid him no attention and picked up the phone instead.

“You are in luck.” She said. “They can’t take you till 5 o’clock. So, go home, do what you have to do and then get yourself down to detox.”

Thus, a Saturday afternoon turned into the longest day of his life.


After he got home, he phoned his doctor: “Doctor Yip, I am going to the detox center.” The good doctor answered: “I am so proud of you.” Why phone his doctor? Perhaps, because he had lied to him so often, when the doctor, after examining his liver, asked, “How much do you drink each day?” Or because the doctor at the end of each consultation asked, “Do you mind if I pray for you?”

Then he phoned his girlfriend and told her what he was about to do.“Shall I take you there?” she asked. “NO,” was his emphatic answer, “I have to do this by myself. But please do me a favor, get rid of all the empties before I come home.”

He had always joked that on the day he should die, he would buy his last bottle to help him across to the other side. The problem was that he was not dying fast enough. Each month he had to cash in the empties to buy his last bottle before the next paycheque.

He grabbed an athletic bag, stood by his bed in his modern two-bedroom, two-bathroom downtown condominium and thought: How does one dress for such an occasion? Will they have a single room for me?

He finally got his stuff together and trudged to the detox center, about ten blocks away, under a grey sky, placing one foot in front of the other.


When he entered the center, the attendant told him to wait, as some ambulance guys brought in a one of those people he had often wondered about. They put the guy under the shower, clothes and all, to clean the vomit and excrement off him and his rags.

Lord almighty, what the hell am I doing here?

Finally, the attendant took him to his bed in the corner of a room full of ten others. He looked at the puke stained mattress, glanced at the urine stained toilet seat in the bathroom, and froze on the far side of his bed.

“Why aren’t you in your bed?” asked the attendant as he walked by.

“I am not sure I belong here,” came the feeble excuse.

“You belong here all right. Take off your clothes and get your ass into bed.”

That night they gave him something to calm down and sleep. The days that followed were filled with AA meetings. Luckily, he accepted and admitted that he was an alcoholic. He did not ask why. (A futile question, anyway.)

He also understood that never ever again in his life would he be able to take another drink of alcohol safely. With alcoholism there may be recovery, but there is no cure. The question was what to do with that information and how to survive from then on without alcohol.

Upon leaving the center, the counselor asked him if he had a follow-up plan. He did. A group of AA friends, a doctor, two lawyers, an accountant, two realtors, a psychiatrist, a finishing carpenter, and even a priest (alcoholism does not discriminate) would take him to their own homegroup and to public meetings, one meeting a day for three months.


That was over 22 years ago. He hasn’t had drink since. He is grateful that he did not end up in jail for killing someone while driving drunk, or in an asylum, or the graveyard. He thought he was smart, but his sponsor put him straight: “Smart!?” He laughed. “You were just damn lucky. “

During his drinking days, he lost houses, wives, horses, but above all he lost himself. The final irony is that he lives in Tequila Land now and cannot have one of his favored Tequila “Sunrises.”

But he can watch the sun rise every morning at the east end of the lake.


For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Ojo Del Lago
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