I know I said it would not be until tomorrow morning when I would post this, but I have been waiting anxiously all week for the weekend to arrive just for this reason, so I can’t help it that I am posting it now. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of Cherie on my computer from this time, really, so her pics will have to be included in later postings.
I do have a song, Dying to Live by Edgar Winters, I will post at the end of this post though. I just learned this week that Cherie listened to this song over and over and over again when she first became clean and sober. I asked her if I could share the song as well when I posted this next piece of her story and she said I may. I enjoyed listening to it several times over while she proudly, and with some nostalgia, sang along with the lyrics. And as I am listening to it now, I feel this enormous swelling within, emotions once again rising. I hope you enjoy the song as well!
By all outward appearances I was still a little girl, but legally I was a woman. This newly acquired power coincided with the arrival of “Flower Power” in the city. With baby in tow, I established myself as a leader in the hippie community. That’s not to say I stopped hanging with the “Squares” and my beloved Bourbon Street strippers, but there were too many new things to try, and it could never be said I didn’t do something at least once.
I followed every big name band and was the main groupie at every festival and concert. Hang with me and you were guaranteed one helluva ride. I always had the best drugs in copious amounts and fulfilled the wildest of erotic fantasies to dudes and chicks alike. Fortunately, I was so fucked up at the New Orleans Pop Festival that when I shot up some heroin back stage with the Dead I got deathly ill. I equated the bummer to the horse and as a result never rode the pony again. But, there was no other drug I ever refused. And no amount was ever too much. My stomach was pumped so many times I gagged at the sight of a straw. I bounced off Charity Hospital’s 3rd Floor padded cells so many times in a straight jacket they called me “The Ping Pong Ball”. I was arrested a couple of times and carted off to jail, but by this point if I wasn’t fucking those who could cut me a deal I was their supplier.
I was the absolute best at what I did and what I was doing was destroying myself. Years and years of drinking and drugging were taking their toll. By the time I was 18 years old, I was a diagnosed a chronic alcoholic and addict. I was warned that if I continued using I wouldn’t make it six months. I had lost half the top of my stomach to ulcers and my liver was dangerously swollen following a bout with hepatitis. I had screwed well over a thousand men and the women’s count was a close match. I had three spontaneous miscarriages and one baby was terminated when a guy I was using with threw me down a flight of stairs and kicked the fetus out of me for messing with his girlfriend. I was shot in the arm while roaming the projects trying to cop some downers. (This skinny little white girl should have known better.) I was stabbed by a jealous lover, but was so stoned I didn’t know I was hurt until I woke up in the hospital days later. I buried my beautiful stripper after she killed herself. She had gotten married in an effort to get back her child (She had been incestuously raped by her father at the age of 13 years old), who was being raised by her parents. When the custody battle fell through she grew even more suicidal (I lost count of all of her attempts) and begged me to move in with her and Buddy and help with her duties as a wife, especially in the bedroom. Sadly, I hesitated and by the time I got to her house to tell her I would agree to becoming part of the open marriage, she lay with the gun in her hand and was dead. She was only 19. I was so grief-stricken Buddy insisted I stay with him and I did. We lived together during my period of mourning, but I finally left because I couldn’t take laying on the dried blood soaked and brain splattered sheets a second longer. Buddy loved for me to lay contorted within the confines of her police taped image when we had sex. That even got too weird for me and I was taking everything I could get to cope.
I decided a drastic change was in order and following my true desires and orientation I decided men were definitely expendable and would live my life as a lesbian from then on. Now even more doors opened to me and I walked through them without a care as to what was on the other side.
I still got beatings and suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs, broken shoulder, broken knuckles and more concussions than my joggled brain can remember, but it was well worth the pain. I loved women and they loved me in return. My ladies, young and old, certainly knew how to wine and dine me and lavished me with gifts. Whereas, I enjoyed the good life off and on in years prior, now I was in a totally different bracket. The high maintenance creature I am today can be blamed on the decadent indulgences my beautiful females bestowed on me. I jetted here and there to have a drink and could always be found bumping elbows and other parts of my anatomy at Studio 54 in New York City in its heyday.
Not only could I walk and chew gum, but I could go to college, get a nursing degree (not a physician, but what the hell!), and not miss a night out gallivanting and carrying on from Coast to Coast with my lovelies.
My son was living with my mother and she was trying to get permanent custody of him. (She eventually succeeded in stealing him from me and delighted in holding the papers over my head. But, I later found out I was tricked and it was solely custody of his finances she had and which she and her husband squandered.) If I was out of control before, now I was a whirling dervish. At this point my soul objective was having a good time and living in a constant state of being inebriated and high. I viewed life either in slow motion or at blinding speed. There was no in between. I started hanging with old queens at wrinkle bars attracting young straight guys into their web so they could pounce. I kept my habit well supplied by this little game. I remember Buzzy once saying, “You should be swigging down Aqua Velva the way you drink, but night after night it’s only the best you are knocking back. Chateau Lafitte Rothschild 1961!!! Honey, do you shit gold?”
“No, but you do Darling,” I chuckled, “You want that blond? Get another bottle and I’ll get you the trick.”
The chandelier lay in shambles on the floor. I guess it wasn’t made for swinging. I tried to run through the dining room wall. Funny, it always seems so easy for cartoon characters. The governor’s granddaughter wouldn’t listen to my pleas for help. I took the butcher knife and plunged it into my belly and started pulling it across hari-kari style. Perhaps, she was too drunk to notice. I took it out and plunged it again and guided the blade toward my hip. “Well, don’t think I’m taking you to the hospital, Cunt. You won’t embarrass me. You’re the genius. You’re the nurse. Sew it up yourself,” she commanded and topped off her drink. I grabbed the bottle, found a needle and thread, and did exactly that. I didn’t have a problem, she did and if she stopped drinking everything would be fine.
*I had been bleeding from both ends for some time, but if I knew I was up for a really wild weekend I made sure friends donated blood in advance so there’d be no problem with me getting transfused.* *I was still recuperating from flipping a brand new Camaro five times and nearly killing us both, but the cops only said I was driving recklessly and they saw the half bottle of Southern Comfort in my lap. “Where do you get off telling me I was loaded and have a problem, Mother Fucker!”* *One call and I’m ready to hit the streets and party hard. There’s no one, no how better than me. It doesn’t matter that I pee and shit on myself, I clean up good.*
I raised the German Luger to my temple, lowered it and aimed it at her instead. “Will you help me now? Will you get me help? I can’t take it anymore. I can’t live like this another day.” The apartment was totally demolished and I was equally broken and destroyed.
She shook her head and adamantly said, “No. I will not be embarrassed.”
I put the gun closer to her face for emphasis. “I mean it. I need help. Go and get me help, please. I’m begging you.”
“You’re pathetic. You’re a worthless loser. Fuck you, Bitch.” Instead of getting angry and firing off a shot I pulled her to her feet and threw her out of the apartment. I watched her circling the courtyard at a frantic, haphazard pace. She looked like a rat in a maze. I loved her once. Look at what we had come to. Me holed up about to bring my sorry existence to its inevitable end and Diana…
They rushed me and the gun flew from my grasp. I recall the rifles drawn and pointed in my direction-cocked. I was thrown to the floor and handcuffed roughly. In a weak and childlike wail I blubbered, “Arrest me. Commit me. Shoot me. Just make this all stop. Please. Please. Please.”
One of the SWAT team officers stepped forward. “I want to talk to her. It’ll be ok, guys. Leave us be.” He gently helped me raise to my feet and lead me into the bedroom. I repeated my lament over and over and over. “Who did all of this,” he kindly probed glancing about what was left of the once luxurious apartment.
“I did. I did it all. I’m insane. I’m crazy. She won’t help me.”
“And you threatened to kill her and yourself,” he went on to ask.
“Yes, I did it all. I can’t take this anymore. Just put me out of my fucking misery. Take me to jail or a hospital. Better yet just put a bullet in me. I can’t live like this anymore,” I cried.
“Look at me, Cherie and listen to me. I am here to help you and I will. You aren’t crazy and you aren’t insane. You are sick. You are an alcoholic and drug addict.”
“But, I can’t stop. I’ve tried so many times only to go back and use more.”
“Get on your knees,” he commanded.
“Get on your knees and ask God, or whoever you pray to, to help you.”
“But I don’t know how to pray,” I argued.
“Cherie, you have survived this long; someone or something is watching over you. Now, pray to that power and beg for help, beg like you’ve never begged before.” I closed my eyes and beseeched the Angels, the Saints and all I knew Holy to come to my assistance. I also called on St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases, to aid me in my distress.
“You won’t hurt her if I let her back in here will you,” he asked.
“No. I would have never. I just wanted her to help me.”
“She can’t help you. Only you can do that and now you know how.” He removed the handcuffs and stood to go. “Cherie, I believe in you. Always remember that. And more importantly, I want you to know and this I promise you, you will never ever drink or drug again.” That was July, 15th, 1977. I never knew his name or could find him at the precinct to personally thank him for saving my life that miraculous day. But, my angel was right—I never did drink or drug again. As long as I live I hope to continue to honor him by remaining clean and sober one day at a time.
To Be Continued…
~by Cherie Leahy Smith
- Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #4, Part 2 (onemindmanydetours.wordpress.com)
- Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #4, Part 1 (onemindmanydetours.wordpress.com)
- Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #3 (onemindmanydetours.wordpress.com)
- Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #2 (onemindmanydetours.wordpress.com)
- Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #1 (onemindmanydetours.wordpress.com)