THE ARCHWAY CHRONICLES: CHAPTER I

[The following is transcribed from a diary I was forced to keep while staying at this rehabilitation centre/cult/sect. While I have been known to exaggerate on the odd occasion, almost every word here is the truth]

written by jordan dodd ©

***

Hello. I would like to welcome you to The Archway Chronicles. Come, follow me on my journey to the Archway Rehabilitation Facility. I am not sure what I am in for, but all I can envision is a prison-like setting, with guards watching perimeters; strict, punitive rules: 40 lashes for a relapse and a Cat O’ Nine Tails if I try to smuggle anything in. I really have nothing to base these absurd assumptions on, but it is all I can see for now. I suppose I will find out soon enough.

I am entering this place of my own intention. I haven’t been forced, yet it somehow feels that way. I stopped using, cold turkey, almost a month ago from this moment. No tapering off the junk for this ultraviolent-addict, my self-control has been non-existent for at least two years, and it wasn’t in the best shape before that either. Despite this, how I have managed to stay sober a month before going into rehab is something I am still trying to figure out. I had decided when I learned of the date I was to be admitted, that I couldn’t use and then go straight into rehab – the detoxification symptoms would be unbearable. So I gave myself a month and somehow pulled it off. Willpower can go a long way.

But despite this month of cleanliness, I am cold and hot simultaneously; I cannot decide if a t-shirt, or several layers of clothing is the appropriate choice for today. The toilet is yelling my name at all hours but each time I arrive I either sit there in pain, with no reward for the energy of getting up, or a river will rain and storm for at least five minutes, making a putrid mess of the toilet and the aroma of the surrounding areas. Given my diet, there have been victims. I am lucky I do not know these people.

Despite feeling so sick, my social worker happily drives me to the facility, where I am on my way to meet a gaggle of strange people with minds possibly more damaged and deranged than my own due to their own substance abuse. What am I getting myself into?!

I pull on the door handle, trying to escape this moving prison. My social worker eyes me strangely as I continue to attempt to open… A child-locked door. Jesus shit, am I in a cop car?? This bitch is undercover, they are always undercover! No escape. No running now. I think I will stop flailing with the door handle for the moment, but watching the incredibly dull scenery of Port Adelaide go by is not of much benefit. Port Adelaide… That means we are getting close. It also means we are now in one of the shittiest parts of Adelaide. This social worker is my escort, and we must be at this place by 9AM sharp. Hysterical delusions of the highest order are ravaging my mind; I don’t think she is a cop.. she doesn’t look like a cop.. actually, now that I think about it, she has actually been really nice to me. I am finding it very hard to convince myself of this though, of anything really – my body is in complete withdrawal-mode now, and my Mind itself is losing control of its functions as well. This place won’t accept an extra-terrestrial like me? Surely not. It just won’t work.

“Stop being so stereotypical, Jordan,” she says to me after, not before, or during, but after watching me try open the door of a moving car. I know she is trying being nice to me, but I can’t help but feel the urge to slap her into a demented stupor. Has she ever experienced addiction first-hand? As a catholic person working for a catholic organisation, I highly fucking doubt it. But she is right. I am acting like a child. Man up you Pussy, this place is going to give you your life back, and you know you do not deserve any of it. Grow. The. Fuck. Up! You dipshit!

We are on Dale St now, and the ominous looking prison that I had envisioned is a harmless looking, two storey white building that resembles a community centre of some kind. Perhaps I have nothing to worry about after all.

***

Arch (adj)

Chief; principal: their arch foe.

Mischievous; roguish: an arch glance.

Way (n)

An opening affording passage: This door is the only way into the attic.

Opportunity to advance: opened the way to peace.

The stars have aligned, this journey was meant to be; Archway are opening the way to personal peace for me: an arch foe of this place if there ever was one. It is run by a Catholic organisation, and while I was not forced here, I have decided that I was most definitely coerced. Let me make it clear: I do not want to stay at this strange fucking Animal Farm. I have stopped using before for months on end, but I was an undiagnosed epileptic, no wonder it never lasted! According to my doc I was ‘self-medicating’. Now, does that sound like an excuse to you? It does to me. I was a piece of trash junkie who would steal from his grandmother. I think self-medication is only a fraction of my drug problems. Diagnosed or not, I have a severe, long-term problem that needs to stop, or I will die. Simple. There is no avoiding that reality, no matter how far into the clouds my mind may be taking its hourly stroll. I suppose I am stuck here, maybe I could… gasp… Make a friend?

Or if all else fails, my phone/recorder can be my friend. Who needs people! I can talk to AND listen to myself!!

Ha ha ha haaaaa, if only they knew… If only they knew what they are allowing through their own literal archway; this insane, walking, talking extra-terrestrial that seems to look and talk like a normal human, albeit with a serious drug problem. But after all, that is why I am bloody here. The drug problem, hmm. That is the key. That is why everyone is in this place… This is how I can relate to everyone and fly below the radar, as They say. I need to tough it out in this place, I don’t want to die before I am 30. I need to somehow control myself and prevent myself from being a problem for the staff.

However, I am minus that somewhat important feature for a client to remain at this facility – that feature being of course sanity. Additionally, I am surely hurtling towards worse withdrawal symptoms than those I am already going through – in fact, because of this certainty, all excuses for my inevitable bizarre behavior are already being conjured in my head, as much as I don’t want anything to happen. And us drug-riddled addicts, well, we know all about excuses. Excuses were the bane of my existence, and not just in relation to drugs, for a long, long goddamned time.

***

I have not spent a single night here yet, but I can already tell that this place seems ill-equipped for a humanoid extra-terrestrial, especially given I am unable to negotiate these normal human luxuries of ‘date’, ‘day’, ‘time’. You humans, you should consider yourselves lucky! Epileptic aliens on the other hand, well, I’ll just say we rarely know what date or year it is, let alone the goddamned time or what day of the week it is.

I have just had my first look at my cell. My bed is comically small, forcing me to sleep at an angle with my feet hanging over the corner of the bed. It would seem then that my chances of sleeping here, or within a normal sleep cycle, will be next-to-impossible. I can already hear loud, almost unhealthy snores coming from more than one of the fifteen rooms near me as I bash these keys – these rooms are not only insanely tiny but also in insanely close proximity. Christ on a flagpole, do these people have amplifiers for their fucking snoring? As a chronic insomniac, I am fairly sure that these and other issues will lead to me pissing people off at some point, especially if I am wondering the corridors at 3AM, despite the fact some of these folk are trying to snore themselves into their own coffins. In this new, confined labyrinth, I am a different species. Every person here is foreign, they do not make sense to me. However, I fortunately possess a mask. Hopefully everyone here remains unaware that an epileptic alien has infiltrated their facility with big, big plans.. but given the volume of their snoring, I think I can relax on this front for now. I am counting on utter ignorance being their strong suit – after all, I am locked in here with about 20 alcoholics.

I am no psychic, but a little bird is telling me that this adventure will transpire in an… Interesting way, if nothing else. Now I really need to quit avoiding this shitty little bed and actually try to get some sleep. I need it whenever I can, no matter the time of day. But my damned, cursed window is without blinds and faces the morning sun. No better time than the present then, I better at least lie down before the sun comes up to blind me through my closed eyelids.

All content originally published on epilepticmoondancer.net is protected by the Australian copyright act of 1968, and the use of any material elsewhere without written consent of the blog owner, me, is prohibited.

52 Comments on “THE ARCHWAY CHRONICLES: CHAPTER I

  1. What a compelling piece of writing this is. Can’t wait to read more. There are some recovering addicts in my own family. While i haven’t experienced it first hand, I am at least a little familiar with it, having seen lots of the problems it causes. Glad you seemed to come out the other side of it okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I am approx four years clean now : ) No thanks to this place though! And thankyou so much for the kind words mate! I’ve spent the last three years writing and re-writing this story, and finally I have decided to stop being such a goddamned perfectionist!

      thanks again for reading mate 🙂

      Like

    • thanks so much for the kind words mate! it means a lot 🙂

      Yeah addiction sucks many people in, and a lot are like me – it started as chronic back pain and turned into an entirely different beast. That’s why I wanna finish my story, and have a sort of summary from four years (ie now) at the end, so people can see that even if you get dumped into a cult rehab centre, it is possible to change your life. I mean, I was abusing for 7-8 years. How I’m completely healthy is still a mystery to me!

      Part II is almost polished and ready to be re-posted 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much mate, I really appreciate it. I have spent several years on this and thanks to my blog I’ve gained the momentum I needed to dive back into it and polish it all off. I mean, cos its all true, the story is already in my head. Just gotta transcribe all my scribblings from when I was there!

      Cheers for reading Tom 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It takes a level of bravery to write about something that personal too, so I definitely applaud you on that. I’d like to someday write some of my own stuff but i’m not sure the world’s ready for that! Lol!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hehehe, yeah I’ve written a few short stories that would be more suited for cannibal corpse lyrics. And some of my diary entries from way back, man, they are super fucking depressing!! They would kill the happiest persons day hahaha. And thanks again for the kind words, they really help a fella like me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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  6. I’ve always been so weak willed as well. It’s easy to say “fuck it” and think ‘oh well, I’ll try and do it another day’ but you did actually do it.

    Love the Arch and Way explanation too, I had a ‘eureka’ moment reading it!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wrote that Arch Way description part not long after I got out of that nuthouse. I never knew if it was any good or not, I just know I wrote it while still rather insane from drug withdrawal. Thanks for the kind words! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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  8. I liked chapter one very much! It sounds like an Edgar Allan Poe story. Do you see your thoughts as a memoir? Or will you take your journal entries and shape them with a plot? Do you have a message? You are at this point an unreliable narrator. That’s great and slippery. What I mean is, your rantings are wonderful, but I am curious how you see these withing a larger context. You are very brave to share your experiences in an open forum like this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks heaps for the in depth response, I really appreciate it.

      Because it is non-fiction I was going to just keep it as a memoir type thing, but in present tense rather than reflecting back… if that makes sense? To pull the reader into the place with me etc

      I guess I haven’t thought about it within a larger context, since I’m transcribing from diaries i wrote in the place its been a long, piece by piece process. I have been toying with the notion of adding a dash of fiction to establish a plot, but I am unsure.

      Considering how the story goes and ends, I see it as a message to anyone who is struggling with addiction or who knows someone who is, a message that says you can beat it no matter the odds, no matter how bad the rehab facility you end up in is.

      Is that message not clear? I actually worry about that, that is the message I want to get across, but since I am writing it in present tense i can’t add comments in hindsight. I have written a fairly long ‘author’s note’ that outlines what I just said as the ‘message’, but I dunno. Is that message very clear at all?

      Thank you again for you honest help 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • My pleasure. Your voice is intense and another trick would be to have your ensemble at the facility have a bit part to provide relief from dumping your personal feelings on the reader, otherwise, all the profanity in the world won’t pack the punch you are looking for. Just food for thought.

        Like

    • Oh and THANK YOU for mentioning Poe… that really feels good… he is my favourite writer and actually had the same type of epilepsy as I do!

      Like

      • A part of my schooling “how” to be a better writer always centered on reading good writing and analyzing how and why their writing is good, not to mimic or mirror it, but it helps your understanding what is good and how it all functions. That big picture….

        Like

      • Yeah that’s what I like to do when I read. I like trying to figure out why its so gripping when I read Hunter S Thompson for example

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: THE ARCHWAY CHRONICLES: CHAPTER V | epileptic moondancer

  10. I agree with Cindy that sometimes we wonder if the narrator is reliable. The room has been $400 a week and $400 a fortnight. We know you’ve been out and about outside your room when people have complained about noises in the night. How bad are these staff at the rehab centre with their rules or are you dealing with your own pain to see what they’re trying to do or naturally antagonistic to authority. On the other hand I feel naturally on your side. You’re trying to get clean, you’re smart and have a sense of humour in some of your observations. Part of why I feel the narrator is unreliable because the narration gives us insight into the thought process of an addict trying to clean up.

    Like

    • I didn’t know the term existed but yeah, an unreliable narrator is exactly what I am. I was going through massive withdrawal symptoms so I was loopy for for the first few weeks.

      Interesting what you say about the staff, I think I’ll make a point to really nail what they were like, I haven’t really done that.

      Cheers, and again, many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I like the flow of the narration, I feel like I’m getting insight and empathy for how it feels to go through this. I second a lot of what Cindy said. It is incredibly brave to share such a personal story in such a public forum. Also I’ve read some of your comments where you point out you’re constantly going back and improving it. Be sure to make things more polished and coherent but not to lose your unique voice which communicates so effectively the mindset of a recovering addict. I’m looking forward to finding out more about your family, friends and when you took drugs to the point where you’d had enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words mate 🙂 I’ll keep in mind what you said when going back and polishing stuff! Though really I should get stuck into chapter 6.

      Problem is that I scrawled in into a notebook during a TAFE class that I was bored in, and I HATE transcribing stuff. But it needs to be done, thanks mate, you’ve given me some push to finish this thing. I think finishing it will be like a catharsis for me

      Liked by 1 person

      • Finishing the story will also give insight into how you may want revise it. Like I said, looking forward to Chapter 6. How many all up do you suspect there will be?

        Like

      • I -was- aiming for ten, though I’m not halfway into the story… I think 15 is a more realistic goal. I guess I thought of ten first cos its a nice neat number.. the ten commandments etc

        Liked by 1 person

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  13. Great first chapter mate. I’m going to take my time with this but you have my interest already. I didn’t go through one of these facilities personally but my dad did and your prose totally capture that environment, man. Great writing buddy. And brave!

    Like

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