“Oh fuck not again.” Ronald Johnson came awake with a start in the dingy hotel room. The woman next to him could only be a prostitute. He knew the type from his years rising through the police force — they were either overweight boozers or too skinny meth addicts, with too much makeup trying to hide the hard years. This one was a heavyset African American woman with impossibly large breasts and acne scars on her face. Why did he always go for the big tits?
Johnson rose silently and looked at his watch. Eight forty five on a Tuesday. ‘Christ, what the hell happened to Saturday, Sunday and Monday?’ Johnson had no recollection of the last three days, and he suspected the empty vodka bottles in the trash had something to do with that. He dressed quickly, fumbling his badge as the woman on the bed stirred.
“You leaving baby?” She said with a Jamaican accent.
“Uh yes I have to get to work.”
“Even the big police officers have to be in on time?” she said, sitting up and displaying those massive breasts which sprawled across her stomach. Johnson oogled them for a moment then remembered himself.
‘Shit,’ he thought, ‘she knows who I am.’ This was not going to turn out well.
“Ah, I think I drank too much. Do you know what I was doing yesterday?”
“Ya don’t remember darling?” She said with the slight Irish intonation characteristic of the island nation. “You told me that you were drinking at Rooks until you came to the club and picked me up. When I got off dancing we came back here.”
‘Shit shit shit,’ Johnson thought. That means he missed work again.
“I have to go,” Johnson said as he walked to the door.
“Aren’t you forgetting something darlin?” She said, tapping on the dresser.
“Uh, how much?”
“Ninety, same as Sunday. You forgettin that too?”
“No um,” Johnson counted out five twenties, “here’s a hundred. Keep the rest.”
“Well thank you darlin…” But Johnson was already out the door. He made a mental note to get an STD test immediately. She looked healthy, but ninety dollars for a long-time with a D.C. hooker meant she probably had HIV. Johnson found his Department sedan parked askew in the motel lot and he slid behind the wheel. A half-drunk fifth of whiskey was tucked into the console. Johnson dropped it to the pavement and backed out of the motel.
Johnson keyed his mobile, all too aware the combination of residual alcohol in his blood plus mobile phone use made him about as safe as a blind toddler driving. He got his doctor’s answering service and told the receptionist he’d like to leave a message.
“Dr. Dunn, this is Ronald Johnson. I need to come in as soon as possible. I’ve had another episode. Please call me as soon as possible.”
Johnson bashed his fist into the steering wheel in frustration. At first they thought his amnesic events were a related to the aneurysm he had two years prior, then they thought it might be epilepsy. During the last visit Dr. Dunn mentioned the possibility of dissociative personality disorder. That would destroy his career for sure.
Johnson didn’t understand what the hell was happening. He did everything right all his life. He worked hard, didn’t drink to excess or smoke. He was a good family man, a diligent father and a well respected police officer. Two years ago he had a traffic accident that left him unconscious with minor bleeding in his brain. But he recovered quickly and the doctors told him there shouldn’t be any long term adverse effect.
Two months ago he started having blackouts. He’d wake up in his bed fully clothed in the middle of the day, regain consciousness in strange hotel rooms half-naked, or worse. Several times he awoke in bed with women he had no memory of, often it was after what obviously was a sexual encounter. He frequently missed work because he was sobering up at home from his benders he didn’t remember. His wife could see he was with other women, but bless her heart, she believed him when he told her he was blacking out. His absenteeism had strained relations at work, but the shooting put them positively on edge. He had been within his rights to be carrying a concealed weapon, and the victim was a two time loser who drew his weapon first, but there were many many questions about what the deputy chief of police was doing in a south side dive at one am on a weeknight. Questions that were only going to get more pointed. Johnson didn’t know because he had blacked out hours prior.
Johnson’s world was falling to pieces and he didn’t know why. He needed answers, and he needed them fast.