Day 1
O.K., here's the deal—I have to keep this journal. Stephanie says it will help me to clarify my feelings about everything. She's the marriage counselor I met this morning and will meet every Saturday until I have resolved my problems.

Stephanie is O.K. Nice body. The only other counselor I saw before was a guy. I was in seventh or eight grade. He asked me over and over why I had so many problems. I told him I had no problems except for people always asking me to tell them about my problems. I'll never forget what he said in our last session: "Jack," he said, "If you don't have any problems, you really have problems." I thought the guy was queer, but he wasn't. He went to jail later for horsing around with some of the girls at the school. In high school, they tried to make me see counselors too, but I refused.

Maybe I am a little screwed up, but everyone is. I don't know anyone who isn't screwed up in some way. That's true, isn't it?

I was screwed up twenty-two years ago when I married Allison, and she didn't kick me out then. She couldn't get enough of me.

I'm going to do exactly what Stephanie tells me to do. I can't go home until she tells Alli I'm ready, so I'm going to get ready in a hurry. Living here in my motor home at Bob's junkyard isn't where a forty-four-year-old schoolteacher ought to be living. My TV at home is like twenty-six inches. The one here in the motor home is seven. I may go blind watching this thing.

Day 2, Sunday
Bob doesn't want me to call his junkyard a junkyard. He calls it an "auto recycling center," but it looks like a junkyard to me.

Except for the lousy TV, it's not that bad here. I made some coffee this morning when I woke up and sat out in the sunshine to drink it next to this rusted-out '72 Chevy. There was no one else around. Bob has a bunch of Mexicans working here during the week, but they were all gone this morning. I wonder where they go. Maybe to Tijuana to visit their families. Probably not, though. Then they would just have to sneak back across the border to get to work on Monday.

The only noise here this morning was the traffic up on Main Street, two blocks away. Not that much traffic, though. This town isn't that big.

In high school, I lived alone like this. Wasn't that bad. It's funny, but when I woke up this morning, I reached over to cop a feel off Alli, but she wasn't there. For a second, I felt kind of ... you know.

The counselor, Stephanie, told me yesterday that I had to learn my true "feeeeeelings" (She said it like that.) and "deeeeeeal" with them in a healthy manner. How can one broad be so stupid?

And who the hell am I writing this to? Stephanie said I never had to show this to anyone, not even to Alli. So, there you go. I used to know girls who kept diaries, but never guys. Guys don't do this.

That's enough for now. I feel pretty hung over. I drank a lot of gin last night, like anyone would.

Day 3 and 4
I forgot to write in this yesterday, but I don't think I'll tell Stephanie. I told her I'd write every day, and a promise is a promise.

On the way home from school today, Ed almost took me to my house. Habit.

Ed is the football coach and English teacher at the little high school where I teach Shop and Agriculture and run the Future Farmers of America—FFA. For the past five years, except during football season, Ed and I have carpooled. The kids at school call us "lowlanders" because we live down the hill here where it doesn't snow. It's a good drive every day. There's no traffic, and Ed's good company most of the time.

He didn't seem surprised when I told him what happened. "You fuckin' idiot," he said. "You can't shit in your own backyard." He didn't judge me or anything. He just said that.

What he meant was that I was an idiot for bringing Krystal, the skinny math teacher, home to my house last Thursday and then getting drunk and naked with her in the master bedroom.

Getting caught by Alli wasn't all my fault, though. Mostly, it was Alli's professor's fault. He's the one who didn't show up for her class so she came home way early.

Krystal and I were on our second round when I heard the key in the front door. Krystal hopped out of bed and closed herself in the closet—just like on TV.

I covered myself and pretended I was taking an afternoon nap all by myself. When I knew Alli was standing in the doorway, I opened one eye just a tad so it would still look closed.

I saw Alli holding a neatly folded stack of woman's clothes, including the under stuff, that Krystal had thrown around the living room.

As Alli stepped toward the bed, I closed my eye and felt her place the stack gently on the foot of the bed. Then I heard her walk quietly away down the hall into Sarah's room.

"Crazy lady! Crazy lady if you think something happened!" I said, as I walked into our daughter's room, Sarah's room, where Alli was sitting stoically between two stuffed animals.

"I'll pick up the children from school, Albert," she said, as if she were ordering lunch. "We'll stay at the Jorgenson's tonight. That will give you time to get your things together."

"But, NOTHING HAPPENED!" I screamed. "NOTHING! I'm too drunk for that. I'm so drunk I don't even know what's happening now!"

"You're sober enough to know you're drunk," Alli answered calmly.

"You want to ask her? Ask her! She's right there in the closet."

"I think we should allow her some dignity. Don't you, Albert? I'll wait here until she's gone."

"Then I'm waiting with you," I said, as if I were conferring a huge honor.

I turned away from Alli and tried to find things to do with my eyes and with my feet and with my arms while listening to Krystal moving around my bedroom. Finally, she exited the front door, having trouble opening it. After Krystal's car sped out of the driveway, Alli just got up and left the house. "We'll be home when you're gone," was all she said.

I think higher education has screwed Alli up. In the old days, she would have just scratched Krystal's eyes out, and the thing would have been over in about two minutes. Alli and I would have smoked some dope together, gone to bed, and made up. Everything is so much better when you don't think too much.

I had to call in sick the next day so I could pack and all.

Day 5
Blood all over the place! This idiot kid almost cut his finger off today in my shop. George, our principal, tried to blame me, and I wasn't even there. I was outside the shop talking to Krystal. She's feeling a lot of guilt and needed to talk.

I told George I would definitely kick the kid out of my shop class for not following the safety rules I handed out on the first day of school. George is a pretty mild guy, but he looked kind of mad at me when he told me that the kid was "special ed." and probably couldn't read.

Then I got mad and asked George what a non-reader was doing in my shop class.

George then told me he was sending me to some touchy-feely seminar at the county office. Something about students "at risk." He also said I couldn't kick the kid out of my class.

The real reason George doesn't want the kid out of the class is so his parents won't sue the school. That's all administrators think about. I think when I die and go to hell, they'll make me a school administrator. Of course, they'll have to cut my balls off first.

Anyhow, Krystal came by the junkyard after school. It was great. She brought some pot, and we smoked up a storm. Then we screwed liked crazed weasels.

Krystal is a screamer. A little embarrassing for me, but the four Mexicans who work for Bob got a big kick out of it. Bob told me later that they all quit work and sat around the motor home watching it rock, and listening to Krystal scream.

Afterwards, when I came out of the motor home, the Mexicans cheered and said things like, "Bueno, Amigo," and "Mucho macho, my friend." Krystal stood in the doorway, wearing just her panties, waved at the guys and smiled like she had just won a free pizza. The more the Mexicans cheered, the harder she waved. She was only like three feet away from them, but she waved like mad anyhow. I could tell the Mexicans loved it. These guys don't get a lot of entertainment, so they get a big kick out of almost anything ... in a kind of half-assed way, of course.

I think in my next life, I'll be a Mexican and work for Bob.

Day 6
My day to drive.

On the way up the hill this morning, I told Ed about Krystal's visit and about the Mexicans and everything. He didn't laugh. I thought it was funny, but he thinks Krystal should be in "the quiet room." "She's a mental case," Ed told me. "She gets off on danger and drama, soap opera shit."

Ed sees himself as a real thinker because he teaches English. He is pretty intellectual for a football coach. Most football coaches are complete, flying turds.

In high school my freshman football coach was this guy whose T-shirt couldn't cover his fat, hairy, white gut. "Gain some weight, kid, and try again next year."

Then they tried to make me a manager. Gave me a team shirt. I liked the shirt, but then the players started telling me to pick up balls and bring them water. I told them all to get fucked. That's when I bought some chickens and became an aggie.

Day 7
Almost a "snow day" today. As we got closer to school this morning, flakes were hitting the windshield, but nothing stuck. If it sticks, George closes down the school because he's afraid the parents will sue the school if all the school busses slide off the roads.

Ed drove today, so I got to look at the snowflakes on the windshield. They're all different. Ed said everyone but me knew that. Excuuuusssee me.

We still closed down an hour early because some parent called George's secretary and said it was snowing in Cuyamaca, which is just up the hill from our school. The parent also said that if his daughter froze or anything, he would hit George "upside the head with a lead pipe." A lot of redneck types live in our school district.

When I got back to the junkyard, it was raining pretty hard. All the Mexicans and Bob had gone home, or somewhere. I bought a pint of gin and rented a dirty movie and a VCR. I drank all the gin, but it didn't make me drunk like I wanted, and I almost went blind watching the movie on the screen that is only seven inches.

At home, we have a fireplace. I bet my son, Jacob, got a fire going today. Jacob is in the sixth grade, or seventh, and loves to build fires. I think my daughter, Sarah, is in ninth—high school.

Tomorrow I see Stephanie. Puke!

Day 8, Saturday (I think)
Stephanie wore this really tight sweater this morning. I got there a little late because I felt really sick when I woke up. Stephanie said I looked like I had a hangover. Ha! I'm starting to think she's kind of dumb.

Anyhow, she kept asking me again and again how I "feeeeel" about everything and how did this or that make me "feeeeeel."

I kept telling her that everything wasn't that bad.

Then she told me she was going to tell me what she thought. She told me I was afraid of commitment because I was even more afraid of rejection and that if I really committed to someone that I would risk ... You know what I mean. Piles and piles of bullshit.

Then I got mad and told her how full of it she was, that I knew all about rejection and that it wasn't that bad. Finally, at the end, I blamed everything on Alli. "I haven't changed since she married me," I told her. "I mean, if Alli didn't want to be married to an asshole, why did she marry me?"

That shut her up. She wouldn't even answer when I asked her if I could go back to my house.

Day 9, Sunday
Usually at home, when I was at home, Jacob and I would make breakfast for everyone. Jacob would do the pancakes, and I would do the little fancy stuff—like fruit cups. When the Wimbledon tennis was on TV from England, I made strawberries and cream like they do there.

On cold, rainy days like today, Jacob would make a fire, and we'd watch the early football game as we cooked.

This morning I had two Kentucky Fried Chicken legs left over from my dinner last night. Not bad. But it's cold in here. The little heater Bob loaned me isn't working too well. It's kind of hard to concentrate.

I'm supposed to write and think about my youth, my childhood. That's what Stephanie told me to do. My youth wasn't that bad. No one has a perfect one. Now it's starting to rain pretty hard, loud on the roof of the motor home. No one here but me.

I wonder what my freshman football coach is doing today. I hope the fat bag of pus is dying.

Day 10, Monday
There's no way! I mean what Stephanie said about my youth and my "fear of rejection." I'm forty-four, for christsakes. Guys forty-four don't ... you know. I got kicked in the head a few times like every other kid, but I got over that stuff pretty quick. Like becoming an aggie. That made me forget all about football. Besides, I had more time because taking care of the chickens didn't take as much time as football. I had more time to go with my mom and help her sell her "Watchtowers" and "Awakes."

The whole family, except Dad, was Jehovah's Witness. My mom can't speak to me now since the elders kicked me out twenty some years ago.

Ed is starting to really piss me off. I think he might be working with the bitch, Stephanie. This morning I told him about the horseshit session, and he said, "We're all affected by our past."

Our past. I had a lot of good things in mine. When I was a junior in high school, my steer won "Best of Show" at the San Diego County Fair, and I won "Top Showman." My parents both wanted to be there, but Dad had to pour a foundation for a guy, and Mom had to do her Watchtower thing. My Agriculture teacher seemed proud. He was so proud, he got drunk at the fair and lost his job.

When I was a senior, I was elected president of the Future Farmers. It didn't work out though. They kept making me do all this stuff, so I told them all to get fucked.

Day 11, Tuesday
Allie called school today and left a message for me to come by the house. I was pretty nervous when I got there this afternoon. Sarah and Jacob answered the door. (I knocked on the door of my own house.)

"Mom wants you to fix the garbage disposal," Sarah said, without looking up at me. I fixed it as both Sarah and Jacob watched. Sarah kept asking me why I wasn't living with them. I told her to ask her mother. I didn't see Alli. She was doing something in the back of the house, Sarah told me. Jacob didn't say anything at all. He just watched me work. Neither of my kids seemed very happy.

When I left, I tried to give Jacob a good ole' high five, but it didn't quite work. Foul tip.

Day 12, Wednesday
Alli could have, at least, said hi yesterday, or thanks. Something. Maybe she was going to, but I left too soon.

Greg, my old roommate from college, called me at school today and wanted to come down from L.A. and stay with us for the weekend. Greg is a golf teacher at some fancy country club. I told him about everything, that his timing was bad, and not to come down.

In college Greg and I and two other guys rented this little house that everyone called The Zoo. They called it that because of how crazy it was there. Greg was a member of a fraternity in college, but he lived with me instead of at the fraternity house. I never tried to be a fraternity guy. How do they get off telling some guys that they are cool enough and others that they are not cool enough to be a fraternity guy? Who is so cool that he can tell another guy that he is not cool enough? I think the whole fraternity thing is stupid.

Greg is the reason I met Alli. She came home with him late one night during the spring part of our third year. I was the only guy not out that night. I stayed home with a deer that I put into our bathtub. Long story. I hit this little deer by accident. The mother deer made it across the street but not the little guy. I should have just left it there on the side of the road because a lot of deer get hit every day, but I, like a dummy, went back and put it into my back seat and brought it home and tried to nurse him back to health. I cleaned all the wounds and put a splint on its broken leg. It was a little boy.

The deer got me laid, at least. Alli said hello to me but then went into Greg's room with him. She came out after just a few minutes, making terrible and vulgar comments about Greg's manly abilities. Greg was pretty drunk.

When she went into the bathroom, I forgot to tell her about the deer in the bathtub. I had kind of forgotten about the deer because I had been sleeping when Alli and Greg came in. I heard this crazy scream from the bathroom and ran in there. Alli was standing on top of the toilet, scrunched against the corner of the bathroom, screaming at the deer in the bathtub. I felt worse for the deer than I did for Alli. The poor deer had this expression on his face that said, What the fuck?

I got the deer calmed down, and got Alli to shut up and left the two of them in the bathroom. When Alli came back into the living room, she had made friends with the deer and made me tell her why the deer was in the bathroom. She thought I was really something for bringing the deer home, and she demonstrated her admiration for the next many hours in my bed. In the morning, the deer was not in the bathtub. I guess he got to feeling better and took off during the night to find his mother. I'm not sure, but I think I saw him and his mother the next day. I saw a mother and baby way off in a hay field, and I think the little one was the same guy who stayed with me. I love happy endings.

Anyhow, it was a great night with Alli. Many great nights followed. A year after that first night, Alli and I got hitched.

In those days all Alli wanted to do was drink and eat and smoke pot and screw. Why does everything have to change all the time?

Day 13, Thursday
My birthday is only ten days away. What if I spend it alone here in the junkyard? I told Ed about my birthday, and he told me I could come to his house, but his wife hates my guts. She thinks I'm a bad influence on Ed because I brought him home drunk one night. It wouldn't be that much fun at Ed's.

What I need to do is get back home. I think I'm going a little crazy here. I thought maybe I'd get used to this, but every day I'm hating it more and more. Everyone but me goes away at five. Then I write in this thing and drink gin. When I think about it, I cook something.

I love sleeping, but lately, I keep waking up.

And Bob is starting to attach strings to my living here. Today he made me the night watchman and gave me a shotgun. Like I'm going to shoot some poor bastard trying to steal a hubcap.

Maybe I'll just go to K-Mart and buy my own birthday gifts. Alli tells me I always spend too much money on her and the kids at Christmas, or when one of them has a birthday.

When I was growing up, we didn't do birthdays or Christmas because of the Jehovah thing. Everything was so goddamn serious all the time.

Ed is a Catholic. Catholics seem to have a pretty good time just drinking and horsing around. Then all they have to do is go to confession and the priest forgives them. Very cool set-up. Maybe I'll be a Catholic. My family is nothing right now.

I really hope I can make it home for my birthday.

Day 14, Friday
Krystal, the skinny math teacher, came by the junkyard today after school, but she didn't bring any pot or get naked, or anything. The Mexicans were disappointed.

She just cried and said we had to "break it off." What the hell is there to break off? She said her husband is going to shoot me.

"Why?"

"I had to tell him."

"Why?"

"I couldn't live with myself."

"That was a stupid thing to say."

Then she started crying because she thought I called her stupid. "And Billy Barns, the senior class president, has fallen in love with me," she sobbed.

All the senior boys at school are in love with Krystal because she always wears these little skirts and sits on her desk when she lectures, crossing and re-crossing her legs all the time. Plus, she gives everyone A's and B's. What's there not to love?

"So, when is he going to shoot me?"

"He just got so jealous when I told him everything."

"But why did you ..."

"Oh, Albert, don't you understand. Do you remember innocence? Honesty? The Golden Age of Innocent Honesty? I just couldn't honestly live the lie any longer."

"I've never heard of The Golden Age of Innocent Honesty. When the fuck was that? So, you can't live. So, you be honest. So, I get my balls shot off. Jesus fuck!" I laughed. I always laugh when I get really nervous.

"Oh, very funny," she hissed. "Sure, you just laugh it off, Albert."

We were standing outside of the motor home. All the Mexicans stopped working and moved a little closer so they could hear.

"I'm not laughing," I chuckled. "Believe me, this is no laughing matter for me."

"You can't just use me and then laugh it off, buddy."

"I'm not laughing!" I shouted. And then I started laughing so hard I thought I was going to throw up. You know how you start laughing when you think about how bad it would be if you started laughing?

She didn't get it. She just turned quickly and stomped toward her car. The Mexicans whistled at her, but she didn't wave like before. Instead, she turned toward the Mexicans, spat at them, grabbed her crotch with her left hand, and gave them all the finger with her right. She waved the finger at them like she was spraying them all with a water hose.

I think there might be something wrong with Krystal. She ought to know by now that honesty is way overrated.

Day 15, Saturday
I think I kind of let my guard down today with Stephanie. It was because I was so tired. I hardly slept last night. I kept watching for Krystal's husband to come shoot me. Bob's gun came to bed with me, but then I started thinking about rolling over on the gun and it shooting my foot off or something. Anyhow, the guy never showed up.

When I got to Stephanie's office, I'm pretty sure I looked like hammered dog shit. Felt like it too. And right away she starts in on me.

"You've got to feeeeeel your pain before you can do anything about it. If you just keep covering it over with booze, you'll always have it. The pain, I mean, not the booze. You'll never be able to express your emotion. It will just fester inside of you."

Stephanie wore this slinky, white, silk blouse with the top buttons undone. She kept catching me peeking, and gave me this disgusted look each time. Why did she wear that if she didn't want me to look? She could have buttoned up.

She's a wacko anyhow. If I had all this pain, I'd feel it, wouldn't I?

After telling me all this bullshit, she changed—got really calm and asked me to just relax, close my eyes and try to think of my moment of greatest sorrow—a time when I cried or something.

I couldn't think of any time except the day when that dick-wad of a freshman football coach told me ... you know. I cried that day riding my bike home, but no one saw, and I got over it pretty quick.

I finally told her all about that day because I figured if I told her something, she might say I'm cured and let me go home. But, that didn't work. All my story did was make her cry, and, as she was sobbing, she said how happy she was. She said I had made a "breakthrough." "The highs and the lows of life are what make life a thing of quality, gives it texture, value. You've been living where there are no highs or lows."

Driving home from Stephanie's, I thought about what she said. I really did. But I don't think I can even fake what she wants me to be—some guy going around laughing and crying all the time, like some kind of homo.

Day 16, Sunday
Talk about showing emotion! I should have told her about me in high school—screw champion of my senior class. They didn't give me a trophy or anything, but everybody knew. (I wonder what the trophy would have looked like.)

It was just luck, really. I discovered this thing about girls and horses. I kept a horse behind my house when I was in high school. It belonged to some kid who was in our FFA whose family moved into an apartment, so the guy's family paid me to keep the horse at my house where there was more room.

I asked this girl to go riding with me one day in the summer before my senior year. She was a Jehovah's Witness at my church, so my mother and her parents were all happy about our date.

Anyhow, it was a pretty hot day, and we were riding double and bareback, and I had no shirt on. The horse got pretty tired and sweaty, so we stopped at this little grove of eucalyptus trees near the lagoon. I mean, even before I could get off the horse, she was all over me. We did it three times. The first time standing up against a tree. The next two times right down in the dirt.

Afterwards, she was real sorrowful. She blamed everything on "the whole atmosphere." She said it was the sweat and the horse and the hot weather and the lagoon and even the grove of eucalyptus. I told her that everything was O.K.—that god would forgive her. I was a little tired of her by then.

I took a lot of girls riding after that. I started with the ugliest and most unpopular, but worked all the way up to the cheerleaders, including the homecoming queen.

And Stephanie says I can't show emotion. If she only knew. How dumb can she get? I can't say, because I think she's a work in progress. She hasn't yet fulfilled her dumb potential.

Ha. Ha. I made a joke.

Day 17, Monday
On this morning's news I saw Krystal's husband being arrested on TV. The news guy said that late last night Krystal's husband shot this student named Billy Barnes. He's the senior at our school that Krystal said was in love with her. Krystal was interviewed and said that her husband, "for no reason" shot Billy in the right buttock as he was leaving her house out the back bedroom window. The poor TV guy could hardly get Krystal off. After she finished talking, she kept smiling and waving at the camera like she had done with the Mexicans. This time, though, she wasn't topless.

The kid will be hurting for a while, but I know it will be worth it to him. He will be a hero forever. Even I never boinked a teacher.

Day 18, Tuesday
School's been major jolly for the past two days. All anyone wants to talk about are Billy and Krystal and Krystal's husband. Krystal hasn't been back to school. Probably won't be. Billy came by on crutches today just to hang out and bask in his new fame. Krystal's husband is in jail and may be there for a while. At his first court appearance he tried to attack the judge after the judge suggested anger management classes. It was in all the papers.

Ed says the whole thing is "tragic." I guess it is, but someday we'll all look back and laugh like crazy. I am almost at that point already.

Day 19, Wednesday
Ed came by the junkyard early this morning to tell me there was no school— "Snowing up the mountain." Raining like crazy here. No one working.

Ed took me out to breakfast and laid a lot of Psych 101 horseshit on me. He told me I need to "communicate" with Alli. I'm starting to think ... you know ... Ed and Alli?

After breakfast, Ed dropped me off here like he didn't want to hang out with me. I wrote more today than I ever have before because there was nothing else to do. I threw away most of it because it was mostly scattered.

I started thinking about what Stephanie said about the best and the worst of my life. I wondered why I should think about all that. What the hell for? But I did it anyhow.

Being "Best Showman" at the fair was, for sure, the best time. Of course, being screw champion was also pretty cool. There were a lot of other best times too, like all kids have, but I ... you know.

Maybe the worst thing was when they kicked me out of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They call it something else, but it's still being kicked out. I don't think I ever really believed in God or anything, but I liked Sundays. Everyone was pretty nice to me.

Day 21, Friday (forgot to write yesterday)
It rained all day yesterday, and didn't stop until sometime last night. I slept almost all day yesterday because there was nothing else to do. I also drank a lot of gin so I could sleep better. Even the Mexicans didn't come to work.

Ed was out sick today, so I drove alone to school. After school I went by my house (I guess it's still mine.) to look at the lawn—maybe it would be dry enough to mow. Ed's car was parked in front, so I didn't even slow down. I think he's doing all he can to get me and Alli back together. That's it, isn't it? If it were something like ... weird, Ed wouldn't park in front of the house, would he?

So, I came back here after buying a case of beer to share with Bob, but Bob was busy, so I gave the beer to the Mexicans when they got off at five. I tried to talk to them, but they don't speak English, and I don't speak Spanish. They are good listeners, though. They hung out with me, smoked cigarettes and drank my beer and nodded and said things like "Si, amigo" when I told them things.

I told them that if Alli is humping Ed, Ed doesn't have to feel bad or anything. Everybody should be screwing somebody, I told them. They all agreed with me, I think.

Day 22, Saturday
Stephanie gave me Xeroxed copies today from some bullshit psychological magazine. One was about men who hate women. Like I hate women. The screw champion hates women. Ha! Ha!

Stephanie did all the talking today. She told me that if I really do love Alli, I should tell her. I don't like that stuff, and Alli already knows anyhow. Why else would I have married her?

No, I am not calling her even if tomorrow is my birthday. For sure, I am going to stop chasing her all around and let her chase me for a while. If I know Alli, she's going to feel huge guilt about not letting me come home on my birthday.

Day 23, Sunday
I called Alli this morning at about eleven from Bob's little office. I told her I loved her. I just came right out with it, the way I had practiced. She waited a second or two, or, maybe even more than that, before answering. All she said was, "Albert, go take a flying fuck at the moon." Then she hung up hard.

Well, happy birthday to you, too! I thought. The only thing I liked about the whole conversation was that, at least, Alli sounded a little bit like the old Alli.

Sunday here is pretty depressing. I am glad I don't get depressed. I could be hanging around the ol' Kingdom Hall if they hadn't kicked me out. God! That was more than twenty years ago.

It was just before Christmas during my last year at San Luis. When I got home to start the break, my mom told me that the big shots at the church wanted to see me. Mom looked real serious, but she always did, so I didn't think much of it. I even thought that the Witnesses were going to give me some award for being near the top of my college class. You know, for making the Jehovah's Witnesses look good.

At the Hall, the big shots brought me into this conference room and sat me down at the foot of this big, oak table. There were five fat guys, all wearing coats and ties, sitting around the table. Bill, the biggest shot of all, sat at the head of the table facing me. Bill ran the plumbing store in our town. He had a daughter I had taken horseback riding a few times. Bill had all these papers in front of him. No one was smiling.

"We're concerned about you, Albert," Bill began.

"Like what?" I asked, in a cocky tone. It was a pretty cocky time in my life. I was getting ready to graduate. I had a lot of money because I had a job selling cars, and I was pretty good at it. I also made money selling pot and mushrooms to my classmates, but I quit that after a while.

"I'd like you to answer that, Albert," said Bill, after blowing his nose and then examining the handkerchief like he had blown out something really interesting.

Then, everything started to fall into place for me. His daughter had squealed about going riding with me. I decided to come clean and admit almost everything.

"Well, sir," I began. "Your daughter and I did get naked out in the grove, but nothing happened. We just horsed around a little. I repeat, sir, nothing happened."

Then Bill tried to kill me. Before I could react, I was up against the wall with his big, stupid, fat fingers squeezing my neck. The four other guys pulled Bill away from me and then blocked him as he tried over and over again to get back at me.

Finally, after what seemed like a long time, we were all back on our chairs around the table. One of the other guys took over the talking. Bill sat glaring at me with his squinty little pig eyes. He was sweating like crazy and moving his lips in a weird way, showing his clenched teeth, like a dog getting ready to bite someone.

The other guy said, "Albert, we were not aware of your fellowship with Bill's daughter. We asked you to come here today to discuss reports we have received from San Luis."

"Nothing happened. Nothing." I said.

"San Luis?" asked the guy.

"Nothing."

"We understand," the guy continued, "that you are living there with a girl. Sharing ... everything."

"Strictly to save money. Nothing happened."

"Couldn't find a male roommate?"

"You must stop it!" said a third guy who hadn't said anything before. "Stop it, or else."

"What? Or else, what?" I was starting to feel a little out of control. Angry, maybe.

"We're just concerned about your soul, Albert," said the guy who had taken over for Bill. Bill was still glaring and showing his teeth.

"Fine," I said. "My soul is just fine."

"Our requirement is that you get rid of the whore you're living with," said the third guy who later became the head of the whole church.

The guy was calling Alli a whore. She wasn't really the holiest person around, but I didn't like this guy calling her a whore. "Requirement?" I shouted. "I thought you guys were supposed to save sinners, not just get rid of them."

I leaned back in my chair and tried to calm myself and control my voice. I didn't want to say anything stupid. "Fuck you!" I said. I said it in a calm and controlled voice.

"I beg your pardon," said the second guy.

"He's out!" screamed Bill, jumping from his chair as if he were going to attack me again.

"Yes, I am," I said, standing and moving toward the door. "And, Bill," I said, as I opened the door to leave, "your daughter gives the best head in fifty states."

As all five guys chased me down the hallway toward the parking lot. I heard Bill screaming at me, calling me a little peckerwood, over and over again. I still don't know what a peckerwood is.

Anyhow, that's why my mother hasn't spoken to me for over twenty years. It's not her fault or anything. The Witnesses told her that if she spoke to me she'd go to hell. And, that's why I am not at the Kingdom Hall this morning, on my birthday.

None of that ever bothered me, though.

Day 28, Friday
I haven't written for a while because I haven't had a lot of time. This past week was a blur. I drank lots of gin, but that wasn't why I missed school. I just woke up with really bad headaches. I think I have the flu or something. It makes it so I can't sleep or anything. O.K., maybe the booze has something to do with it.

But, anyhow, on Tuesday or Wednesday, I got kind of lonesome and went to the Foxtail. It's a little bar in town here. I met this girl who used to be a shop student of mine a few years ago. She came back to the junkyard with me, but she didn't stay. I don't think she liked the junkyard or the motor home, and she said I wasn't looking too good. I wasn't feeling too romantic, anyhow, but I thought if she wanted to horse around a little, it would be O.K.. But, she didn't stay.

My son, Jacob, came by the junkyard this afternoon. He didn't say much. Just parked his bike and sat on the little bench next to the motor home. "Dad," he said.

"Jacob, my man," I replied, and tried to give him a high five, but he didn't understand. Then he just sat there and looked down at his feet like he was trying to say something he couldn't say.

"How's it goin'," I asked, leaning against the door of the motor home.

"Fine."

Lots of silence.

Finally he asked, "When you coming home?" And his voice cracked like he was going to cry or something.

"It's up to your mother," I answered. "She holds all the cards on this one, ol' buddy."

"Well," he sputtered, still staring at his shoes, "it's not too great around the house. Mom cries all the time." Then he really started sobbing. He seemed embarrassed. He kept his head down, but I could see the tears falling on his shoes. Then he just stood and picked up his bike and turned away from me. As he rode off, he was still crying, but real quiet like, more like he was just gasping for air. Suddenly, I was riding my bike home after being cut from the freshman football team. The whole thing made me feel pretty sad. Maybe not sad, exactly, but ... it made me feel something. I wanted to talk to someone, but Bob was busy as usual. Stephanie said I could call her any time, so I gave her a buzz, but all I got was her answering machine telling me that my call was very important to her. I didn't leave a message. I could have tried Ed, but he was probably doing his family stuff by then. It was four-thirty.

Finally, I hopped in my truck, went to the liquor store and bought a case of beer and four packs of Camel cigarettes for the Mexicans when they got off at five. They like hanging out with me, drinking beer and smoking. All four of them came over to the motor home and we had a good, long talk. They smoked cigarettes and drank my beer and I told them about everything that was happening in my life. I can really talk to these guys. I think they understood me now. They laugh when I say something funny, and they look real sorrowful when I tell them sad stuff. We talked until all the beer was gone. It's good to know that someone understands what I'm going through. They call me amigo. That means friend.

Nine months later, December
I thought I'd lost this journal during all the moving. I found it this morning in a box of Christmas lights. My last entry was the day before my last session with Stephanie.

What a session! Alli was there. Surprised me. She started crying and everything, saying she couldn't live another day without me, but that she would, anyhow, if I couldn't agree to make some major changes in my behavior. I agreed to everything even before I knew what everything was. I was feeling so tired and beat up and so sick of that tiny TV.

Here's what I agreed to:

No more gin No more womanizing Sell my house and buy another Join a church Take up a healthy hobby

Those are the things I remember. I've done all of that and more, and life is good. Selling the house was the best thing on the whole list. I made a small fortune because the little house had six acres with it that got rezoned to "commercial" right before I sold it. I am kind of a rich guy now.

Alli said she couldn't sleep with me in that house since I defiled it with ... what I did with the skinny math teacher. Of course, she did come to bed with me on my second night home at the little house. She said she could do it because I put up a sign in front of the house that said, For Sale by Owner.

I never thought I would live in the kind of house I'm living in now. It is amazing! It's huge! Two-story job, up on a hill, overlooking the country club, the golf course, and the equestrian center.

Golf has become my "healthy hobby." My old roommate, Greg, comes down a lot on the weekends to play golf with me and help me with my swing. He's a golf pro at a fancy country club around L.A. He says my fourteen handicap isn't bad for a rookie.

Greg and Stephanie, my marriage counselor, are screwing now. Funny how things work. After that day at Stephanie's office, Alli and Stephanie became "sisters." Stephanie is at my house a lot, visiting Alli. They say things to each other like, "You go girl!"

This is the second marriage counselor that Greg has screwed. When he was married, his wife made him go to this woman marriage counselor because Greg was not being faithful. The weird thing that happened was that Greg started screwing the marriage counselor. "Right there on her office couch," said Greg. "Talk about backfire."

But, anyhow, Alli thought that Greg and Stephanie would make a "cute couple." I thought cute couples were like for seventh graders, but there you go.

They both stay at our house on some weekends and sleep in the bedroom next to ours. Stephanie is a screamer, so it's kind of fun to listen. I wonder what the kids think about all that.

Stopping gin was tough. I think I might have been an alcoholic, but I was able to whip it. I haven't had a sip of gin since that last session with Stephanie. I only drink now when I'm on the golf course. But, no gin. Strictly vodka. But, even then, I only drink after a good shot or a really funny one, like into the water or out into the parking lot or something.

But, that's really it, unless my golf buddies drag me into the Nineteenth Hole after a good round, or a really funny one.

But never at home in front of the kids, unless ... you know ... we have guests who enjoy a glass of wine or something. Greg and Stephanie enjoy wine when they visit us on the weekends.

Not being a womanizer was easy. Every time I'm tempted, I just think of that tiny TV. Besides, since I quit the booze, I don't think other women look that good.

I'm a Baptist now. Believe that! I was going to be a Catholic. Our whole family went with Ed to his Catholic church a couple of times, but they wanted me to take like six months of instruction, and the church was almost five miles from my new house. The Baptist church is only a mile away, and all I had to do was "accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior." It took only about two minutes.

I even got to be a guest speaker at the church to tell everyone how evil my life was before I accepted Jesus. (Most Baptists say Jaasus.) When I spoke at my new church, I made some of the women cry. One woman, who was sitting in the second row, cried so hard her breasts jiggled. The jiggling was fun to watch for a minute, but then I thought about the tiny TV.

My kids, Jacob and Sarah, are doing great since I've changed my life. Sarah is a sophomore or maybe a junior, now, and has a boyfriend. Alli said they made a cute couple. Alli and Sarah spent a lot of time together, talking and giggling, until Alli came home early one day last month and caught Sarah and her boyfriend naked in Sarah's bedroom smoking pot. When will Alli learn not to come home early? Now, Sarah and Alli are not on the best of terms. Alli wants Sarah to get another boyfriend, but it hasn't happened yet.

Jacob told me he wanted to take up golf so we could golf together. I took him out once for a few holes, but he needed a lot of work on his swing, so I bought him a set of lessons from our club pro. Jacob only showed up for the first one, and then he got interested in his computer. He forgot about golf and has become a real computer expert. He's very dedicated. Spends all his time in his room with it.

Alli is happier than I've ever seen her. She has her own school now. After she got her teaching credential, she tried to get a job in the public school, but it didn't work out. She decided to start her own Montessori school, so I bought her this two-bedroom house in town and converted it— brought it up to code. I'm good at that kind of thing.

She has only seven students—fifth and sixth grade—all little, white, rich looking people. I don't like them much. I bet they'll all be in fraternities and sororities when they go to college.

Their parents all drive fancy, new cars, so Alli's self-esteem was suffering because she was driving a ninety-nine Ford Escort. Stephanie told Alli that if she had a fancy, new car, her problems would be solved. I bought her a new Lexus. (Leased it, really.) Red.

Then I bought her one other thing—two things, really—breasts. She told me that with them, her life would be one hundred percent perfect. She used those words. I told her I liked the old ones, but there you go. The new ones are huge, but they don't quite fit her body, and they feel like volleyballs. Anyhow, she tells me now that her life really is one hundred percent perfect. Lately, though, I have caught her standing in front of the mirror kind of playing with her nose. I like her nose the way it is, but I'll do whatever she wants.

I've even become a volunteer. The equestrian center needed an experienced horseman to help kids learn about horses ... not to be afraid of them and all. The classes will be on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month for an hour and a half, starting next Tuesday. I'm putting up signs around the club inviting the kids. I call the class "Invitation to Horsemanship."

The mothers of the kids can also participate if they want to. If they get really interested, I would even be willing to give separate classes just for the mothers. Maybe even individual classes.

I'm now car-pooling with Ed again, because football is over. He had another good season. Second, I think. He seems a little sad to me lately. I think it's because he doesn't get to hang out with Alli anymore. Has to go home for his poontang. I've never asked anything about him and Alli, though. He would never admit it.

He tells me that he is a little down because two guys who used to play football for him went to fight in Iraq. One came back in a coffin, and the other came back with just one arm. I try not to pay too much attention to all that war stuff.

He does say some pretty weird things to me, though. Mostly compliments, I think, but I don't get half of what he says. When I told him how good everything has become for me since I changed, Ed said, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." He also told me that I was a real modern success story.

I don't know if he's sincere or not. It's kind of hard to tell about Ed.

Copyright © Michael J. Cunningham 2005. Title graphic: "My Journal" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2005.