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Art by Daniel Valentin 2017

The Journey


by Oliver Lodge


     He was drinking and still going to AA. He would tell everyone that he was sober, but you could smell the booze on him from a mile away. He always came in late. I remember him hobbling across the room for a free cup of coffee, his drooping torso wobbling atop his displaced hip, and his worn, grungy, red face. A member would qualify in the back of the musty room in the church basement and then the discussion would go counterclockwise around the table.

     "All bets are off, if I pick up a drink. That's why I need to let go and let God," the drunkard would say, when it was his turn to share. "I no longer want to be the driver of the bus. I'm taking the backseat from now on and letting God do the driving. It's all about the journey, not the destination."

     He showed up at the meetings so drunk on a few occasions, that he was asked to leave. I didn't see him for a long time. His name came up on a freezing, rainy night in January at a Big Book meeting upstate. He had recently caught his son smoking pot. The boy and the father had gotten into an argument, which escalated into a physical altercation. The man was in a blackout when it happened. He accidentally killed his own son.

     He was facing manslaughter charges when he made a surprise appearance at a meeting where I happened to be in attendance. He didn't say anything about his tragic circumstances when it came time for him to speak. He said what he had always said . . . something to the effect of, "It's all about the journey, not the destination."

     And he kept repeating this to himself, as he walked out the door of the church that night. He walked for miles in the rain until he came to a bridge overlooking the Hudson River. He looked down at the shimmering, black water below him as the rain trickled down his balding head and the back of his neck, the entire time repeating what he had been muttering in the rooms of AA for years.

    He stepped off the iron precipice into the empty night, plummeting downwards, while saying to himself, "It's all about the journey, not the destination."

Oliver Lodge is an author who lives in upstate New York. He has been published in Inner Sins, Creepy Campfire Quarterly, ANON Magazine, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Body Parts Magazine, Yellow Mama, and Ravenwood Quarterly.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017