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The Hitchhike. Part Seven.

I jumped out of the car and ran. My paranoia was in overdrive as I made one terrible decision after another. A couple of hours later, it was sundown and I needed to find a ride and more alcohol. I landed at the Mcdonald's by the shoppes at Eastchase. I walked to an old rugged red truck. An older man sat behind the wheel. I scouted out a man who looked crazy enough to give me a ride. I was so ignorant. This is exactly how girls get kidnapped, end up in sex slavery or dead. In my mind, all I needed was to find someone stupid enough that I could coerce to take me back home to Georgia.

The man was in the drive-thru line as I walked up to the passenger side window. I asked him if he could give me a ride. I do not recall what sappy story I gave him; he said yes. (I am quite sure I did not let him know I had previously left the nut house, was on a binge, and desperate for more substances.) I hopped into the messy truck. The passenger side door was anchored together by a bungee cord hooked to the seat so it would not fly open. At that point, I did not care what the truck or man looked like. I had a ride, and I was off the streets. He advised me that he could not drive me until the following morning to Georgia. I asked him to buy me vodka. He did. I thought we were going to his house for the evening, and I assumed it was close by. I was wrong. As I sat in the passenger seat drinking shots of vodka, he drove and kept driving. All of a sudden, I began to panic a little. I was being driven somewhere I was not familiar with outside of the Montgomery city limits. (I knew my way around Montgomery because I had previously lived there while I was in college.) I kept drinking to calm my nerves. We made conversation as he told me he was a painter, and we were going to one of the homes he worked on. He drove into a new housing development where no homes were completed. It was a construction zone. I stepped out of the truck and walked into a beautiful home. It did not have any furniture except for a piano located in the living room. I stood there in the kitchen drinking vodka and listening to music as he rolled himself a marijuana blunt. He asked if I wanted one and I replied, "no." I started to feel unsafe as it dawned on me that I was with a complete stranger, in an empty contracted home that was not his. Between the intoxication, the chemical imbalances in my brain from stopping the anti-depressants, and my utter lack of awareness...I was a full-blown occupant of the insanity club!

I am guessing about an hour had passed when his behavior began to freak me out. He was very nice to me. But-when he laid on the carpet flooring in the living room area as I attempted to play the piano and asked me to join him...I bolted outside the door with his phone and called my mama. All I could think is this man is going to rape and kill me. I hit star 69 and my mama's phone number so she could not trace the call. I imagined a raid of police officers swarming the home if my mama found out and I would end up in jail. I had a current warrant out for my arrest in Georgia for breaking my bond condition. I do not recall much from the multiple calls. I knew she was trying to get in touch with an old friend of mine, who lived in Montgomery to come pick me up. The problem was I had no idea where I was at, and no street signs were around. She was highly frustrated and was unsure if I was telling the truth. This was the first time she had heard from me in days, and I sounded like I had lost my mind!

{I cannot even imagine what I put my parents through. Especially because I have children and the thought of one of them calling me in despair and in imminent danger terrifies me. As a parent, I would do anything to keep my children from harm. Sadly, if you are a parent, friend, or family member of someone who suffers from addiction; your heart hurts as you watch him/her deteriorate while putting themselves and others at risk and in harm's way.}

Finally, I demanded the stranger man to take me to Ric and Moes bar. Ric and Moes was my watering hole when I lived in Montgomery. I was friends with the owners and spend three to five nights a week hanging out there after I got off work. It was a safe place for me where I knew I would see old friends and would not feel threatened. I was looking for my old best friend, Grammie. The man dropped me off and I immediately felt at ease. I walked in and Moe met me at the bar. He walked me into the office as I sat and waited for Grammie to come pick me up. I do not recall much, but I do vaguely remember Moe asking me what had happened to me. The look of confusion on his face and shock that the once, young vibrant "Hope" was not the woman that appeared in front of him. The Hope he knew eight years earlier, was not present. The beautiful blonde who loved to drink beer, karaoke and dance all night no longer existed. He sat in front of an empty hollow young lady that had lost her zest for life and who appeared to have gone mad.

Grammie walked through the office door, and I jumped up and gave him a hug! We walked out and was headed to a nearby hotel. Grammie and I go way back. Grammie is a tall, skinny, blue-eyed older man by 10 years who became my best friend while I lived in Montgomery. We first met when I worked as a waitress, and he was the manager. I was eighteen. He had watched me grow into a mature young lady and was always there for me throughout all of my college days, up into my pregnancy with Bentley, marriage with Eric and we stayed in touch on and off throughout the years. Grammie had always been my biggest cheerleader. Throughout the years, we were each other's biggest fans. We always encouraged each other for the betterment of each other's lives. There was a time we had dated but it did not last. I never wanted to ruin the true friendship we carried. It was special and no matter how long it had been or where life had taken us-we always picked right back up where we left off.

After we left Ric and Moes, Grammie stopped by a local gas station and picked up a six pack of Coors Lite as I requested cocaine. He already had cocaine; I was elated! I could continue my night into the morning feeling everything while nothing at the same time. As we both cut lines of cocaine snorting our current troubles away; we both were left with our own disappointment of how our lives had played out. I sobered up from the alcohol while I kept him up all night talking. Grammie listened and like everyone else who had previously known me could not believe I was in this deep, dark place of addiction where I did not even have current access to my own children. I remember him saying, "Hopie this is not you. Your mom and dad want you to go back to rehab. I think it is a good idea. I have never seen you this way. And I know you, Hopie. You cannot fool me. I know you can do it. You have always been my most favorite person in the world and you know I love you. You are beautiful, smart and have your whole life ahead of you." We talked until sunrise. He had work in a few hours as I begged him to take off to take me back to Atlanta. He refused. Finally, he rolled over to get a little shut eye before having to get up. I knew he had been in touch with my mama, and I figured they were scheming a plan to get me treatment. I did not want help. I wanted to go back to Atlanta and drown myself in alcohol, drugs, and self-pity alone. I quietly got up from the bed trying to think of a way to getaway and run. One problem: I had zero money which meant another hitchhike. I saw his wallet lying on the ground by the bed. He had seventy dollars cash in it. I took it. I walked to the breakfast nook where there was a buffet. I made a plate contemplating my next move. I figured with seventy dollars I could take a bus, maybe, but I had no identification card. Grammie walked to the table and sat in front of me. He said, "Hopie, I know you took my money. Where is it? What are you thinking?" I said, "no. I do not know what you are talking about." He shook his head and walked away. He could not believe what I had become. He walked back to the room, gathered his things, and sat in his car for a good thirty minutes at least. I watched him from a distance. He made a few phone calls; I assume to my mama. My mama loved Grammie. She always appreciated how he looked after me while I lived in Montgomery. He drove away. I was relieved but the guilt from taking his money was making me feel like the shittiest friend and person on the planet. He would have given me the money, If I had asked. Grammie would have given me the shirt off his back. So, what did I do? I went back to the room and drank the remaining beer and looked for any small amount of powder. There was a little left on the nightstand where I licked my finger to attach the powdery substance that helped me forget about how awful of a person I was.

I was restless as I paced around the hotel room. I took a shower as my thoughts were consumed by finding someone, I could give gas money to at least take me to the Georgia line. Around 8 am, I walked to a nearby Target. There I decided I needed a new outfit and to waste time before a liquor store opened. I walked around, found a new outfit, shoes, and mustard fashion hat to complete my makeover. I changed in the dressing room and walked out the store without paying for my new wardrobe. I felt I needed to save my money for necessities. Obviously, I was not in my right mind. But that does not excuse my behavior even if I felt I was in survival mode. After my Target run, I walked for at least an hour around the Eastchase area trying to find a liquor store. I found one. I paid for cigarettes, eight one-hundred proof mini vodkas, a pint of Mccormick vodka (the cheapest) and a Gatorade for my chaser and hydration. My blood alcohol level had been steadily increasing for almost two days non-stop. How I was able to function with such a high amount of poison in my body is mind boggling. (The DUI that I had been previously arrested for in Georgia-my blood alcohol level was .38 Blood alcohol concentrations of .31% to .45% are considered life threatening.) I continued to walk until I saw a Waffle House. My thoughts went back to the nice guy giving my brother and I a ride in Virginia. Surely, I could find someone to give me a ride back to Atlanta. I sat down at a booth. I asked for a water and walked to the restroom to take another shot of vodka. I came back and sat there in

desperation. I had been up for 72 hours with no sleep and had been drinking and using drugs to keep me conscious. I noticed a guy that looked in his thirties, eating with a friend who clearly worked in construction. I went to the bathroom and took another shot. I mustard up the courage to ask him for a ride.

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