True Stories

Getting Out by Greg Siofer

Chapter 1

The Beginning of My Journey

Passing cars and seeing stars out the window, the cool night air blew in through the open windows as I hurried home. My wife (at the time) and I had some friends that were getting married soon, and we had invited them over for supper. I had not even had time to get the tortilla chips for the recipe we were planning to make. Hopefully, our friends would arrive late; maybe the traffic out of Toronto would slow them down. I parked at the house and dashed straight into the kitchen. As I put the chicken and potatoes into the oven, my wife asked about the tortilla chips for the snack. Pretending I had not heard the question, I showed her the red wine I’d grabbed on the way home. Just then, the doorbell rang.

“They’re here,” I said to her. The table was set with plates, utensils, and wine glasses, and everything seemed ready for us to sit down. Our friends, Lizbeth and Tucker, came in and we all approached the table. As our friends sat down, my wife went to the kitchen to put the final touches on the food, and I poured the wine to keep them occupied. I took a seat and said cheers and we began to drink from our glasses. Although it was only around 200 mL, and not a strong wine, I noticed that I was already starting to slur my words and get very fidgety as if I had been consuming hard liquor. Confused but not wanting to cause a scene, I pointedly ignored this strange behavior. When we’d finished our wine, I apologized that we were missing the tortilla chips and offered to walk ten minutes to the convenience store to pick some up, but we decided to go after supper.

My wife and I left the table and went to the kitchen to check on the chicken and potatoes. The chicken was looking brown and juicy so we took it out of the oven and placed it on the counter, and the potatoes were perfectly crispy. We served Tucker and Lizbeth, and I was happy to see how well we had done even though I had been rushing to get things done in time. With supper over, we walked down the road to the convenience store, glancing up at the stars and just talking about our future. We looked at the other nice houses in our neighborhood, seeing how people lived. On the way back, I was a bit shaky and flimsy.

Again, it felt like I had been drinking quite heavily earlier, which was not the case. I wondered what the heck was happening, but again I stayed silent and ignored whatever was going on, proceeding toward our house and admiring the multi-colored leaves of the trees along our gently curving path. Looking at the sky full of stars, the moon shining bright, and no clouds in sight, helped keep my mind off my body’s sudden strangeness. Back at the house, everything was lit up as if someone was home. We enjoyed a few of the beers that I always kept in the fridge in case of company, then made the snack with the tortilla chips, which turned out to be brownish and crunchy.

We had a super time just mumbling about nothing of importance. Our friends spent that night at our place since they were in no shape to be driving—which can happen when you are having a good time and lose count of how much you’ve had to drink. I woke up to the sun streaming into my window and proceeded to the washroom, still wobbly. I stared at my face in the mirror and splashed it with cold water, thinking my present unsteadiness would soon go away. But then I looked closer at my eyes and could see that my pupils appeared different than normal, that the black circles in the middle of my eyes were colossal, as if I had been drinking heavily. Walking unsteadily back to my room, I got dressed and informed my wife that something was off with me, that the unsteadiness had not gone away since yesterday.

Still not thinking too much of it, we both headed to the kitchen, where empty bottles sat on the floor and dirty plates were piled on the table. When Tucker showed up in the kitchen, we decided to drive five minutes to get coffee and bagels. Getting there was a little strange. I got into his sporty car and we immediately blasted the radio. As we pulled out of the driveway, my head began to spin, but I would not let anything divert my attention from the task of getting something to eat. Even as my body hair began to stand up and droplets of sweat appeared on my forehead, I kept pretending everything was okay so as not to cause a scene. At the drive-through, we placed our order of coffee, bagels, and donuts. I was eating my donut when Tucker suddenly pumped the brakes, making the filling of my donut squirt onto my shirt. Then just as quickly he pressed the gas, causing my heart to crash inside my chest.

My face was red, and my eyes were wide open. Finally, he released the gas pedal, but I could see lights in the rearview mirror. We double-checked and yes, it was a police cruiser. Tucker pulled over to the side and the police officer pulled over behind us and approached our car. She then knocked on the window and Tucker was like, “What’s the problem, officer?” She replied, “You were speeding and swerving; where are you going in such a hurry?” I chimed in, saying that I had to poop and had told him to speed up. She smiled and let us go, saying to drive slowly and be safe. Back at the house, we passed around the coffee and toasted bagels, not mentioning to my wife or Lizbeth what had just happened.

My symptoms had momentarily disappeared from this excitement, but by the time our friends left for home a few hours later, my unsteadiness was back. Thinking about what this could mean gave me goosebumps; however, I tried not to show it. I went to sleep that night with darkness in the window and woke up six hours later looking at my clock and realizing it was time for work. But the sunlight through the window looked brighter than usual. Again, I felt like I had been heavily drinking all night. I told my wife, and together we decided I would call in to work and tell them I would be out for the day. I then called our family doctor to explain my issue, and he set up an appointment for that afternoon.