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"The Slick Road" by Walter Richters

Gary Miller

The following information is very personal. I offer it to the public freely. I do so in an effort to convey to readers just how easily life can be derailed after substance abuse. I want to begin by saying this. Not learning is a pitfall. I once believed I was wise for my age. What an embarrassingly boastful view of myself. I could not see that I traded the fullness of feeling my life in for numbness. Certainly the pain I experienced from my past was intense. But all the vodka and benzodiazepines did was increase my wounds while masking the pain. I didn’t know I was in trouble. I was blissfully bleeding out. That kept on until my substance abuse, which I thought I was in control of, affected others. And then ultimately a life was lost. A regret of mine which haunts me daily.

I was arrested, defeated, and staring down twenty five to life. I wouldn’t eat. I just laid there in administrative segregation at the St Johnsbury Vermont correctional facility waiting to die. All was lost. I couldn’t even remember much of my past or who I was as an individual as opposed to just another statistic. Then without any choice, I withdrew from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and caffeine all at once. The medication they gave me to assist with my withdrawal didn’t seem to help at all. 

I began suffering from nightmarish hallucinations and delusions. I can remember them to this very day. At one point I believed that an African American inmate was killed during a riot which my unwelcomed presence incited. And then as a result, An African American militant group called Puma had openly placed a high price on my head, which criminals, civilians and law enforcement alike were clamoring to collect on.

During another delusion complete with audible and visual hallucinations, I believed that the Vermont Department of Corrections handed me over to the mob for execution. I believed and even saw the mob set up a casino in an execution room and offer me a chance to gamble for a less gory, or if I lost, more gory execution. I can remember I won two shots to the lungs and one shot to the head. The whole ordeal was pure torment; hell on earth. That is when I attempted suicide by ingesting copious amounts of solid and liquid soap in an effort to avoid a horrible death. I was hoping the poison would enter my blood stream through my stomach and then the lights would go out. Instead I vomited up lather and blood so hard that I lost my voice. That earned me time in a dry cell and suicide prevention smock.

Looking back I realized that the hate from others that I perceived originated from my own mind, which hated myself. It took time but I came to the conclusion that if I lived, I could begin to attempt to pay back an enormous debt that I owed to God. If there is one absolute truth that I understand; it’s that there is still so much that I do not understand, and so much I do not know. I have learned that the family of the deceased want my statement. And given the chance, I will make my statement. Though I’m sure they would settle for a bullet to my brain. It is my responsibility to live with that. In closing I want all who read this to know that one harmless day of binge drinking can lead to two thousand days of binge drinking. And you’ll never see the black ice on the road of your life until you are upside down with a steering wheel in your mouth. It is that fatal. It is that tragic.