The following is the first chapter of my new book, Danger Life, the story of my struggle with OCD. It will be coming out in the very near future and when it does, I will let you know right here. Until then - here is a sneak peak.
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“What the hell?”
“That’s my head!”, I said as I awoke with one eye open. The other eye was hoping it was just a dream. BONK! BONK! Nope, this is no dream.
A man, at least I think it was a man, was standing over me, pointing his shot gun at me . He seemed to be pulling a Chet from Weird Science. Banging me in the head with the barrel of his gun for my rude awakening. As I started to come to, I realized just how ugly a guy I was dealing with. He laughed hysterically every time he struck me as if he took great glee in my pain. His teeth were rotting out of his mouth, black and smoky. His breath permeated the room, and the scent became stronger with each cackle. He was hairier than the average dirt bag and you could see the ticks and lice battling it out in his beard and lion’s mane. He had sores all over his body and several open ones on his lips. Clearly he had herpes. You could even see the puss oozing out of some of them. He had his shirt off, but the amount of hair on his back was enough to fight the coldest winter. His eyes were at different levels on his face, one about a half inch higher than the other, as well as being cross-eyed. And I’m gonna level with you on this one...it may be hard to hear but...he had boogers coming out of his greasy nose. Overweight and out of shape, he wore tight sweats that lived up to their name. He looked like a sick stuck pig. There I was in bed sleeping with my wife and this guy starts in again. He does it every day, for years it’s been going on. I hate this guy. I hate his guts. You’re about to see why.
“GET UP, CREEP! You have a lot to do today...A LOT TO WORRY ABOUT!”, he screamed. His voice crackled from smoke and sounded like nails on a chalk board.
“Yeah, I know...I know.”, I replied. My wife was starting to wake up now. She hated this bastard...more than me, I think. She also didn’t put any weight in any of his threats, unlike me. I lived in constant fear of this guy. He had my number and I couldn’t escape his grip. “What are you gonna do if I decide to NOT to do what you’re telling me to?”, I retorted, “Are you gonna kill me? WHAT?!” I almost hoped he said yes.
He laughed like a mad scientist and his cold lopsided eyes stared into mine with fierce intensity. He was foaming at the mouth with the next bit of news he had for me. “NO...no... I ‘m not gonna kill you.”, he giggled. And then he got real serious and stone-faced as he declared, “WORSE! You’ll wish you were dead, though...YOU’LL PRAY TO GOD YOU WERE DEAD! Hell, you’ll probably kill yourself because of the feeling it will give you. DON’T DO IT, I DARE YOU!!!! By now he was screaming at the top of his lungs. Now I had no idea what he had in store for me, but I knew I couldn’t let it happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. I had absolutely no reason to believe him, but he had me thoroughly convinced.
“I’ll do it.”, I murmured quietly. The defeat in my voice resonated throughout the room. “I thought you would.”, he said with a sinister grin, black teeth and all.
“C’MON, HONEY! DON’T DO IT! DON’T MAKE ME DO IT...NOT AGAIN...PLEASE!”, my wife implored.
“I’ll be right there with you. WE’LL DEFY HIM TOGETHER. I SWEAR IT’LL BE OKAY. I promise.” She pleaded with one last attempt. Now I know what you’re thinking...how could this guy possibly puss out and not trust his wife. How could he let some freak dictate his actions every second of every day and let down his wife? The woman he loves more than anything on earth. How could he go out like that? Be a man you’re thinking. I couldn’t do it, though. This guy owned me...and he always would.
“I’m sorry baby...not today. I can’t...I just can’t...”, I said in my despair, with a weary battle- worn demeanor.
Then came the orders.
“Let’s start with your wife... Hi, beautiful.”, he sneered as he salivated after her like a wolf about to pounce on raw meat, “ Just like every day before and every day to come, here are the basics...AND YOU WILL DO THEM, won’t she, Evander?” he said with blinding arrogance. “I hate you...you bastard. I hate you.”, I said as I glared with rage.
“Great!”, he replied with glee. He loved to get to me. “Now as I was saying, my dear, in the bathroom, you will not touch the entire back wall, the window, the ledge or the shade. If you do, you will immediately wash your hands twice before touching anything else. If you don’t, I swear you’ll regret it. Any time you touch the toilet or toilet paper, the same goes for that. Do NOT put anything on the toilet like clothes or towels, and don’t bump into the back of the toilet when you use it. Any time you touch any of these items that I spoke of, you must wash your hands in a special way. First, you can’t use your hands or fingers to turn the water on. You must use the back of your wrist. If I catch you using your hands, you’ll be washing stuff around the house the rest of the day.”
He smiled villainously as he continued, “Oh yeah, and when you use the bathroom and have to pull your pants up, use ONLY your thumbs on the inside of your pants to pull them up. Don’t pull them up like normal people or you’ll have to change. When you wash your hands, Evander will watch you and make sure that you use enough soap and enough repetitions. By now you know what to expect and at some point, you’re gonna learn to resent your husband as he checks this...learn to hate him because of it. I know you think now that nothing could make you stop loving Evander, but trust me, that day will come. His controlling you on these issues will eat away at you little by little...until you just don’t care about him anymore.”, he promised with fierce intensity in his voice and a glare hard enough to knock you over.
“Your toothbrush...” he continued, “...the top of the shower curtain, and curtain rod, are to be treated just like the toilet. When you are clean, you better wash off the shower handles and open the curtain in the middle of it, never the top. You will wash your hands every time you put on underwear or pants. That should cover the getting ready process. However, if you use anything in the kitchen or touch anything that has left this house, you better wash your hands. This goes for all food items, your school books, keys and even your coat. Hell, it even includes the door knob to the front door. If not, Evander will lambaste you when you screw up ‘cause he knows I’ll lambaste him even worse. I’ve got that wimp so scared of me he’d do anything I tell him to and he’ll make you do it too. Soon you’ll forget that it’s me telling you to do it. You’ll hear it day in and day out from Evander, and to you, it will be him demanding these things of you. It will be him controlling your every move.
He paced pridefully, continuing his relentless monologue as she sobbed, “Your love for him will die a slow, painful death taking a piece of you with it. A piece you’ll never get back as long as you are with Evander...never! It doesn’t matter if you fear me or not, Stacey. You see, Evander does it enough for both of you and them some...and he always will. Now, moving on.... Ahhh, this one’s juicy. One of my personal favorites... Every time you leave the house, for any reason, upon return, you MUST shower before anything else is done in the house. This means no grabbing a quick bite to eat or drink before showering. No sitting down to watch the news or read the mail. Definitely no hugging Evander when you get home. If you have to go out again, then you will be taking two showers that night. Bottomline, showers come before any contact with anything in the house.”
He crouched down to stare the broken Stacey in the face to add, “This is gonna be the one that sucks the life out of you...and the one that wears you down day after day. You’re gonna despise this one. This might be the one that breaks you up! Ha ha!” He then rambled on with more rules. One of which was listing off fifteen places Stacey was forbidden to go, and about fifteen people she was forbidden to have contact with. He added that each week this list would grow, and eventually, she’d never be able to see anyone. I could already sense her resentment every day we went through this.
She should’ve resented me. No one should put the woman they love through all these hoops and hysterics. “Last but not least, you must ALWAYS use the front door, never the back door. Oh, and one more thing...throughout the day I will think of millions of dumb little things for you to do. I will tell him and he will see that you do them with the panicked urgency of a scared little child...’cause that’s what you are to me, Evander...a scared little kid, just like you’ve always been and always will be.” Stacey now angered by this stormed out and got ready for her long day. “NOW, it’s your turn, CHUMP.” He said with a smile as he turned to me. I was starting to sweat with anticipation for what he had in store for me today. I mean, I knew the basics. They never changed, but what new stuff would emerge for today? It seemed like he created new hassles every few minutes. And certainly, if I ever felt comfortable in something, there would be something else to do that no normal human being would ever be able to conjure up. He was AMAZING, the most diabolical thing I had ever known. I wanted to kill him...but I couldn’t even get my hands on him let alone fight him. The funny thing to me, was that no one else in my family was scared of this punk. Stacey would beat his ass if he came near her. My parents, doctors, and friends were not fazed by him in the least. They just looked at me in pity and disbelief, as if to say how can you let this guy bully you? He’s nothing. To me though, he was everything. I followed his instruction more than the disciples followed Jesus. Why though? WHY? I didn’t have an answer for that one just yet.
He started back in with authority, “You obviously have the exact same rules that your wife has. However, you have so much more to do. So much more to think about. First and foremost, everything related to your job will be considered toxic in your eyes. It will be soaked in a contagious substance and anything that comes into contact with it will be infected. This will include all coworkers, clients, vehicles and buildings; even down to every pen or piece of paper at your job. It will make your skin crawl to be in that environment every day. It will wear you down and make you hate your job but it won’t kill you. You’ll be safe as long as you fear it like the plague, and keep it completely separate from your home life and family life.”
He flashed a Cheshire cat grin as went on his tirade, “If it were to mix with either of those two things, you would be in severe trouble. The kind of trouble that cannot be undone no matter what you ever do. You’ll be infected for life. Oh, you’ll want to mix them, like any normal person would during the natural course of daily life. You’ll make friends with coworkers. You’ll want to spend time with some of them outside of work. You may even want to invite some over to your home, perhaps for dinner or to meet your wife. Maybe something as simple as watching a game. But NOTHING, and I mean nothing, could be a bigger mistake. You will suffer unspeakable pain for years to come if you ever do. Even the car you drive to and from will have to be kept separate. You can never pick anyone up in it unless they are from work. You can never go anywhere you hope to return to in your car. You will need a different car for that...but you know that, don’t you? You already wasted thousands of dollars a year on your third car so you can do this. It’s one more car to pay insurance on, and even better, it’s one more car you’ll need to get fixed. It’ll be awesome!” he said as he was bubbling over with joy from this notion.
He must’ve gotten bonus points any time we spent extra money because of him. He continued, “Bottomline, playboy...your family, neighbors, or friends outside of work cannot have contact with your work car, or they too will be infected and will have to be dealt with in my special way. Let’s talk about how hard work is gonna be for you... Work is hard for normal people sometimes, isn’t it? Especially working with troubled teens and their worthless parents. It’s already hard. You get to have it be harder. You get to feel like you are being infected every time you walk in those doors. They might as well dump piles of manure on you every day right when you walk into the place. That’s what it will feel like to you at least. Every scrubby little kids boogers and blood and poop will be all over everything there, and it will spread like wildfire constantly. Your life and death mission is to make sure it never spreads to your family and home. The pressure will be too much to take. You will be leading two lives; one at work with completely different rules from the life you lead at home. It will confuse the living hell out of you. Sometimes you won’t even know what the hell to do with yourself. You’ll forget where you are and it’ll be like walking through a minefield for you and the people that love you; never knowing when the next one is gonna go off. I’m gonna love watching you.” he giggled.
“The pressure will be insurmountable and you will be a ticking time bomb yourself, but we’ll get to that later. Let’s talk about how you're gonna keep work separate from home. You will always use the back door and never the front. You will tip-toe in the back and make sure you never step off the back rug. At this point, you will squeeze in and close the door behind you without bumping into the wall or counter or anything else. You will then remove your shoes, still staying on the rug as if your life depended on it. You will then disrobe completely, except your socks and boxers, will still be on the rug the whole time, balancing on one leg if you have to stay on the rug. You’ll be sweating buttermilk the entire time! Ha ha! You will have a separate hamper for those work clothes that resides on the rug as well. This rug is like stepping onto lava for anyone but you after work. If anyone comes into contact with it, the clothing that touched must be removed or the body part washed. No one can ever just walk on it while walking through the house. That would be unforgivable and you know it. Anyways, after the clothes are put in the special hamper, you must remove your socks in a very special and precise manner. If you do it wrong, you’ll be sorry.” he promised with conviction and malice.
“Stand on one foot and remove the sock on the opposite foot. Put the un-socked foot down but only off the rug...like on the kitchen floor.” he added. “Then stand on that foot and remove the other sock. Then put both feet without socks on the floor not the rug. Then remove your boxers and put them in an even more separate basket in a closet in the kitchen. No one but you can ever open that closet or even touch it, let alone hang their coat in it. Then go to the shower and follow the previous instructions for getting in the shower. And oh yeah... You sweat a lot don’tcha buddy? Any drop of sweat that falls off you onto anything or the floor needs to be whipped up with a Clorox wipe. Every single one. You must be ever conscious of where your sweat falls in addition to never bumping into anything the whole time you are getting into the shower. Once in the shower, you’re not gonna take just any old normal shower... This will be a rehearsed process that will become second nature to you, but you will grow to hate it more than just about anything you do in your life. Showers will take you no less than 45 minutes in the water, sometimes longer. You will wash everything in the right order with soap first. Then, as you wash everything again, you can use the sponge on body wash, never before the first wash is complete with soap alone... All other shower rules that apply to your wife also apply to you. Your hair, however, will have to be washed three times while washing your hands before each shampoo. Since you touched the faucets with work hands, you must wash those off before you turn the water off. Wash them like your life depends on it. Once out, follow your wife’s instructions to the tee. Your whole day and mission in life will be to stop the spread of your work. Anything that touches anything, that touched work or people, therein becomes infected without cure. It is because of this that you will obsess about the origin of every person or object you come into contact with. Every paperclip, every piece of clothing at a store, every door knob and every single handshake.”
He put his hands behind his back, like a sadistic drill sergeant, and paraded back and forth in front of me as he went on to say, “You will live in constant fear that everything you or your family comes into contact has come into contact with something or someone having to do with the social work world. It will become the ONLY thing in the world that matters. Saving yourself and your family from it will be your passion and mission in life. Saving your family from something they are not affected by, nor fear, will be your priority. Not having kids, not gaining promotions at work, and not meeting new people. None of that will matter in comparison from sparing yourself from this. Your physical health will play second fiddle to this. You ‘ll rather get cancer than have a co-worker come in your house and sit on your couch because, to you, it’s priceless. All the showers, all the worrying, all the cleaning...it will suck the life right out of you. The life you once lived with exuding passion will be a distant memory to you and the people that love you. You’ll become a totally different person. At times you’ll even become a monster capable of almost anything. All the pressure at times will make you evil. Eviler than any human should be capable of being. You’ll have a different voice, a different face...a different purpose. Everyone who sees it will fear you like the Devil and swear it isn’t you. They’ll pray every night that the monster goes away for good; that the real you will come back so that they can love you again. They’ll do almost anything to get you back. But you won’t return....not as long as I have you. Not EVER! And for those times you’re not the monster, you’ll be so exhausted from the constant life and death pressure. You’ll be so exhausted you’ll become a hermit to all the people who you used to see daily. You’ll become comatose because of the medicine you stupidly take to fight me. At times, you’ll be like a vegetable for days. You’ll be a prisoner in your own home, wanting to stay in your own secret small world as long as you can. And when your wife and parents can’t keep up with your constantly changing rules, you’ll begin to view them as idiots and have no problem saying it to them. This will only further alienate them from you as you become even more unlovable with every rule, with every name, with every fight. Someday it just won’t be worth it to them to stay. You see what I’m doing here? I’m BUILDING HATE and DESTROYING LOVE. It’s my job...it’s what I d—"
“Are you done yet?” I said like a man gasping his last breath after listening to his tired soliloquy.
“Done?” he asked chuckling “NAW, I’M JUST GETTIN’ STARTED...HEH HEH HEH... You’ll be hearing me every second of every day from now until the end of your life.”
“Why... why are you here?” I asked.
“Well why else, silly? To ruin your life, of course. Talk to you soon.”
That was a day in my life. That was every day in my life. Wanna see how I got there? Wanna see how I finally got out of there? It’s quite a story...