The Day Of February 9: No Mountain Lion Today

It was almost like Chuck and I had an unspoken pact that day to not talk about Charlie and his addiction.  One of us would start and before the sentence was out of our mouths, we both changed the subject.  We focused on the matter at hand instead.  The wildlife officer was supposed to meet us there at noon.  We all arrived early.

I have to admit I felt much better standing next to a man with a handgun holstered at his side and a rifle in his hands.  We entered the place and found Charlie’s lunch debris on the floor.  The pizza box was shredded, the remaining pieces of pizza had been eaten, except for the cheese.  The lion had picked off the sausage and pepperoni, had eaten the dough underneath, but, left the cheese laying where it fell.

We inspected the place – all 3 floors from top to bottom.  The ranger was giving us instructions for how to proceed.  We were standing at the plywood that had been used to cover the garage man door opening.  I remarked, well, we are safe if we can get all the doors on, right?  He said, well, not really.  Lions have been known to scale rough frame walls and they love to hang out in the rafters.  Always, always inspect the rafters before entry or doing work.   I was incredulous.  He then went on to say, it won’t be safe here until there are real doors, insulation, drywall and siding.

Before any of that could be done, we had to pass all rough inspections.

So, before he left, he gave us final instructions on what to do should we encounter a lion.  He looked at me and said, what ever you do YOU MUST NOT RUN.  He said that I would be prey to the lion and would probably be taken down immediately.  He said to talk big, act big and don’t block the door way or other access.  The whole time he is talking I am thinking what I would really do if I were to meet this creature.  Would I remember all these instructions?  Would I remember to not run, when everything in me would probably be saying to run?  What about my husband who walks around assisted by a cane?  Would he be able to do these things?  Would I be able to protect him?

So, the man with the weapons left us alone in the cold, cursed house on the mountain.  Our task of the day was to cap and pressure test the mechanical and plumbing pipes in preparation for inspections on Monday.  Because we were still not in mountain lion free zone, we came up with this plan.  We would do everything back to back.  That way we would both have visual confirmation of what was happening around us.

The plumbing pipes had to be capped on the side of the building from the 3rd floor.  The ladder leaning up against the open gable end on the inside, I shimmied up between the ladder and the rafters and leaned out to place the cap and secure it.  Done, whew.

Capping the mechanical pipe required climbing the ladder at ground level, hoisting myself over a 4 foot embankment of snow and walking across the frozen roof to the pipe.  Done!

We capped all of the others from the basement and then went down together to the basement.

The whole day was pins and needles.  I was jumpy all day.  Every sound, every movement, every shadow.  I couldn’t stand to be away from Chucks body.  I wanted to cry and to scream all day.  Why are we doing this?

We pressured up the lines and started the test.  First thing we hear a loud pop, followed by another loud pop.  The first 2 caps had blown, the test failed.  We ran outside and found the first cap 20 feet down the driveway!  We never did find the roof cap.

Long story short, wash, rinse, repeat.  My jumpiness continued, I was worried that dusk would bring the mountain lion back.  Standing still, I could feel it’s presence behind me.  A couple of times on the ladder upstairs, I felt like I was being touched on the shoulder.  It was getting dark when I climbed up and literally ran across the roof for the last time to clamp on the last pipe.  The tests succeeded.  We closed up and drove down the mountain.

I was overjoyed to get away from that place.  I was totally and completely creeped out.

A few miles out of town, Charlie’s helper from the day before called.  He had heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that Charlie had overdosed on heroin and was at some ER, he did not know where.  He did not know if Charlie was ok.

The Morning Of February 9: Decision Time

I got up early as always, did my internet business and then got Chuck up to get ready for mountain job.  Charlie was already up, or should I say, he never went to bed.  I think from the time he left the house the night before until that morning he had been drinking.

He was heading for a crisis, I knew it, he knew it.  He was sitting on the stool in the kitchen while I was making breakfast and lunches.  I decided that I had had enough and I was going to get tough with him, tough love you know.

I yelled, I admit it.  I told him that the only thing separating him from now and the life of his dreams was a shooter bottle of vodka.  That he could have anything, be anything, do anything, if he could just stop drinking.  That I would do anything I could to help him, if he would just help himself.  I begged with him to stop, I pleaded with him to stop.

Empty words.  Because he knew and I knew that there was no way to actually help him, other than AA and he was already doing that on a regular basis.  There was no way to get him treatment because we didn’t have the fucking money to do it.  But, still, I kept at it.

And I compared him to Robin, saying that he needed to get help or he would end up like she did.  He gave me the oddest look, prolonged, it scared me.  I said, what?  what?  He replied, you know, Robin is dead?  Do you want me to die?  I said, no of course not, don’t play stupid with me.  You misunderstood on purpose.  Of course I don’t want you to die.  I want you to live.  I want you to have a great life.  And you can’t if you keep going the way you are going.

And he mentioned Andrew and that he was in mourning.  And then I really yelled.  I yelled that he had to quit using excuses to justify his drinking.  If he needed grief counseling to be able to find a way to accept Andrew’s death, then I would help him find a way to make that happen.  And then we went through the entire argument again.

And finally, I looked him in the eye and asked if he could wait until evening for me to take him to the ER.  I asked him and stared into his eyes, trying to see if he could.  It was only a few seconds, but, now it feels like it was forever.  I weighed my 2 choice for that day in those split seconds while I was staring into those eyes.  Stay home with you and take you immediately to get the help you need.  Go with your father to meet the park ranger and then help him finish the weeks work so we can get paid, so we can keep afloat for another week.  Stay home and help you, go to work and help your father.

He broke the spell with a crooked smile and said to go.  I told him that when I got home, I was going to take him to the ER for detox.  He said, “I am not going to Arapahoe House, you can’t make me”.  I said no, not there, but a real ER with a hospital behind it, not the stupid place on 84th.  I told him I would stay the whole time and if they tried to strap him down or force him to do anything against his will I would put my body between them and him.  He agreed.  We hugged on it and I finished getting ready.

Chuck and I were standing at the truck and Charlie was standing on the porch.  I said, ok, this is not the day to leave angry or without hugs. Your dad and I may meet the mountain lion and he may eat one of us.  So, let’s not leave angry with each other like this.  Charlie laughed and said, yes, that is true.  He ran down the steps and gave each of us a hug.  I love you mom, I love you dad.  Have a great day.  I love you too son, stay out of trouble and we will see you tonight.  I love you too Char, remember, be ready to go to the ER when we get back.