The only reasons I can remember for keeping track of the days of the week at the slaughterhouse was that Saturday was payday and Sunday was my day off; 6 AM to 6 PM six days a week I was reducing cow halves to quarters and rib sections, loading semi trailers and choking down the free meat sandwiches that the company generously provided for our lunch in the breakroom.

Saturday night I took a third of the $150.00 I cleared each week and went to town and got really drunk. Sunday, I nursed my Budweiser hangover and began steeling myself for Monday morning. After four extra strength pain relievers stopped my head from pounding, I would try to do some reading from one of my books, but the words and sentences were flat and meaningless. I couldn’t focus so I’d just watch TV or sleep.

Late one Sunday morning I saw a big luxury automobile slowly tossing and swaying as it made its way toward the house on the uneven dirt driveway. I ask my mother who it was. She just looked at me and shook her head; apparently disinterested which wasn’t normal for her. The car drove up in the yard and a large young man with short cropped hair got out leaving a woman and two children in the car. I opened the heavy screen door to confirm what I couldn’t believe I was seeing. I cleared the porch and the steps in one second. My God, it was my friend Keith. My old teammate and surrogate big brother who I figured had disowned me after I failed so miserably in Tallahassee.

Keith quickly explained that he had come to get me. He said he had me a job, a place to live where I’d do the maintenance on the other rental units in the complex for my rent, and a VW Beatle car. I was flabbergasted. He said, “Pack your bags; we’re going back to Tallahassee. But, first I’m taking the family to Aqua World OVER in St. Petersburg. I’ll be back to get you late this afternoon.”

I’m sure there were others in my life that would have helped me if I hadn’t been so ashamed and hiding from the world in my confusion and pain, but Keith didn’t care about my immature, psychological, self-involved, pride. I needed a lot of help, support, and direction. He knew it and he gave it. I was his brother. I never ask how he knew where I was or about the fix I was in. I didn’t care; I was just happy to be getting the hell out of the slaughterhouse.