RECOVERY

 

 

    September came and so did the start of school.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  Here I was, 26 years old, going back to school for the first time in almost five years.

    I took it easy at first - two classes on Tuesdays and Thursday.  Since I had Wednesdays and Thursdays off from work, that gave me every Wednesday to spend with Nicole.

    School was fabulous.  I took two classes that were required for my major, Introduction to Anthropology with Laurie Greene, and Anthropological Field Methods with Dr. Joe Rubenstein. Both professors were great. Laurie taught me about Anthropology and Joe's class taught me how to be an Anthropologist.  Joe's class enabled me to meet many students because my assignment was to write an ethnography on a school subculture and I chose the largest one. My interest in the subject and my desire to get out of the casino had me receiving all As.

    Between school and going out every Thursday night to see a band my good friend Kenny Q. played in, I was able to create an atmosphere far removed from the casino.  I was making friends at both places and they even ran into each other. These were good people with kind hearts. Not like the people I had to work with every day.  The band members were also current and ex-Stockton students, so many people went out on Thursday to see them.  For the first time since I started working in the casinos, over six years past, I was feeling good about myself, the future and what it held for me.  The best part was that no one there knew I was a scum-bag.  They thought I was just a student and a short haired hippie.  They had no idea I looked the way I did not out of choice but out of force.  It took them a while to find out I was a dealer.  I was always ashamed of what I did for a living, so I never told anyone unless they asked and really wanted to know.

    My return to work was also going well.  No one really asked too many questions and only a handful of my closest and most trusted friends knew what happened to me. The navanes were working great.  The supervisors could bitch at me in one ear and it would go right out the other.  It was as if they were never there.  Then I would feel goofy and start acting crazy on the game out of pure joy for the future.  People would tell me I was weird but I would just say, "Yeah, maybe, but just remember, out there is a little girl who calls me dad."

    But there is a very wise man out there who always says that "when life looks like easy street there is danger at your door."  He couldn't be more correct.  Every time things seemed to be working out for me Mary would throw a kink in it.  The past three years with her were no picnic.  I was eternally in love with her and it frustrated me that she acted too much like her father.  But for all the hard times we went through together, they were just the tip of the iceberg.

 

    I took four classes during the spring 1991 semester.  I was in school every day excluding Fridays. On Thursday nights I was doing the lights for Kenny's band.  Even though that had me out until 4 am, I would get up every Friday to pick up Nicole at Mary's office in Atlantic City.  The two of us would spend the day together and Mary would pick her up after work. I would catch a nap with Nicole and take another one after she left before starting work at ten o'clock. It was a busy schedule, but it kept my future looking bright.

    And my future was looking bright. Mary and I were getting along so well that we even had dinner together on Valentine's Day. We gave each other cards and presents and spent a lovely night enjoying each other's company.

    In January I was at a candle light vigil on the night that the Gulf War began.  There, I saw Jay Albrecht for the first time in over four months.  I should have figured that I would see him at an anti-war protest.  He hated killing so much he was a vegetarian.  I was just becoming one myself. (I confused Nicole a little after I had become a vegetarian.  She loved it when I made chicken.  But when she would ask me to make it for dinner I had to tell her I did not eat chickens any more.  She would ask why.  I would tell her because chickens are birds and birds are animals and I don't eat animals. I was trying to get her to respect all of God's animals. That was confusing to her because she would tell me that her Pop Pop had guns and killed animals.  I could tell Nicole needed me.)  I was also in charge of running a bus trip to Washington D.C. for the anti-war march.  I know, a little late.  I called in sick on both those days because some things in life are more important.  In addition, I was interviewed by the local TV news which was aired the night of the march and which a few of my co-workers saw. That didn't go over well with that predisposed bunch.  In fact, I got beaten up because of it by some immature craps dealer George Bush tricked into forgetting about failing banks, rising unemployment, poor education, crime, drugs, and his broken promise about no tax increase, and was having a good war.

    Work started to become no bed of roses.  I don't know, maybe it was the fact that they knew I was in school and not interested in what they did to people.  Maybe it was the fact that they were so brainwashed into believing that Bush did not start the war.  Or maybe Jose Costineda, who was now the Casino Manager, put the word out on me after we saw each other at the Library III restaurant on Valentines Day. I was with Mary and Jose was with some female gangster sitting at the table next to us. We both ignored each other--him probably because he felt he was a hot shit casino manager making over a quarter mill a year while I was just a peon with a reputation of being a traitor--me because he was just that type of scum-bag and I did not want to admit I knew him.  But no matter what the reasons, I was beginning to get a hard time at work.

 

    Nicole and I were spending every Friday together and having magnificent vitality each time.  But having 16 credits at school and a 40-hour schedule at work limited my time.  Because of that, I had to, one time, bring Nicole to the Atlantic City Public Library with me while I did research for the first chapter of my ethnicity report mentioned earlier.  Nicole was a perfect girl for me while I did that for an hour.  Afterwards, I took her on her first train ride.  She never gave me a hard time when we were together and if she did or started to do something wrong or bad or not listen to me I would look at her and ask her why she was giving me such a hard time.  I always talked to her like she was another person and not a little baby.  I would tell her that she should listen to me because I have been on this planet a lot longer than she and knew what I was talking about.  Nicole always listened.

    She knew I went to school and where it was.  She had always asked me to take her there to show her around.  I would take her for ice cream or bring her to the S.A.V.E. office to meet everyone.  S.A.V.E. stood for the Stockton Action Volunteers for the Environment. They were the largest club on campus and the group about which I did my first ethnography for my Field Methods class.  The members were about the best bunch of people around who cared very much regarding how the environment was being destroyed and tried what they could to help prevent it. They all loved Nicole and would color with her or show her what they were working on.  I had to go to the school bookstore one time with her to pick up a paper for one of my classes.  When she saw all the lollipops at the counter she asked for one and I told her she could have it.  From that day on, whenever we would go for a visit to the campus, she would take my hand and lead me to where the lollipops were.

    There were other things we did as well.  After I got out of the hospital I took her to Storybook Land.  That was a petting zoo and a kiddy park based on storybook characters. We had a great time. She was introduced to a lot of new animals that day and fed some as well.  We also went to the township park every week--weather permitting.  At the age of two and a half she was bigger than most of the four and five year olds who were there. They would come up to her and start a conversation as if she knew how to speak fluent English, but Nicole would just stare at them and look at me.  When I would tell the other little girls that she was only two years old they would be shocked.  We would also go to the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing and to a pier on the Boardwalk to get ice cream or play pinball and other games.  That was always one of her big requests.  She also loved sitting on those rides that moved whenever you put a quarter in them.  No matter where we went or what we did we always had the best time and got along superbly.

    Nicole and I shared a relationship which was all our own.  We never talked about her mother and made plans only between us.  It was our time together and the two of us looked very forward to it.

 
 
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Dedication

Behind These Eyes

Chapter  1 - OVERTURE

Chapter  2 - IN THE BEGINNING

Chapter  3 - MY FIRST SHOT

Chapter  4 - CHAD AND THE DEALER

Chapter  5 - THE DECISION TO DEAL

Chapter  6 - LICENSE TO STEAL

Chapter  7 - CASINO SCHOOL

Chapter  8 - SPRING '84

Chapter  9 - GETTING IN--THE AUDITION

Chapter 10 - BREAKING IN

Chapter 11 - LEARNING THE BIZ

Chapter 12 - SHOOTING DICE: THE HOOK

Chapter 13 - THE CITY, THE CASINOS, AND THE MOB

Chapter 14 - THE MOVE TO GET OUT

Chapter 15 - FIRED BY THE MAFIA

Chapter 16 - ALONG COMES MARY

Chapter 17 - THE TROP

Chapter 18 - OUTSIDE THE BIZ

Chapter 19 - BACK IN THE BIZ--ANOTHER AUDITION

Chapter 20 - THE BIRTH OF NICOLE

Chapter 21 - TRUMP: THE ART OF THE STEAL

Chapter 22 - PREVIEWS OF THINGS TO COME

Chapter 23 - THE BREAK-UP

Chapter 24 - THE NUT HOUSE

Chapter 25 - RECOVERY

Chapter 26 - PARENTAL ALIENATION

Chapter 27 - FIRED FROM TRUMP

Chapter 28 - I FIGHT FOR NICOLE

Chapter 29 - THE RUN-A-ROUND

Chapter 30 - THROWING IN THE TOWEL

Chapter 31 - WHAT NOW

GLOSSARY