"Don't bother trusting me. Don't bother waiting. Don't bother changing things that won't give into changing. Just let me go away."
Blue October

After Patty and I parted ways at Kennedy Airport, I called my ex-wife Donna, who lived less than ten minutes away from the airport, and told her I was in New York. I asked her if I could stay there for a day or two.

After our divorce over a year earlier, Donna and I didn't talk for a few weeks. She was very bitter. But eventually, little by little, we started talking to each other again, and remained close friends. We talked on the phone a lot, and I visited her in Brooklyn every so often.

We used to have four dogs together. I traveled too much to take care of them properly, so they stayed with Donna. They were like our children, so I was always happy to see them when I was in Brooklyn. Donna and I didn't have sex anymore, but we had been family for so long, she was always going to be my family, no matter what some paper says. She was like a sister to me now.

After my crazy two weeks with Patty, I really wanted to tell Donna what happened. But I couldn't. I never told her anything about my personal life, or other females, because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. As far as she was concerned, I was celibate.

The next day I ended whatever relationship Patty thought we had. I took the coward's way out and texted her: "Hey, I had a good time. But I'm still in love with Alice, so I'm gonna go back with her. I hope u understand." Short and to the point.

Patty's reply was surprisingly civil: "I understand. U gotta follow ur heart."

But then half an hour later I got another text from her. A little snippier. Then I got another text from her. And another. And another. Each text was nastier than the one before. Sooner or later I started replying in the same mean tone. By the end of the day we were sending each other hateful tirades.

While Patty was staying with me in Florida, I had come clean about Alice. So now Patty knew exactly which buttons to press to get under my skin: "Ur dating an addict? Ur so stupid! They never get clean! She doesn't love u. She's just using u! All she wants is money for drugs. She'll never quit heroin!"

And I knew exactly which buttons to press to get under her skin: "WTF is wrong w u? Sex 5 times a day? I felt like u were raping me! And that shit in the car? Sick! And u give the worst blowjobs ever!"

I found out much later that Patty had become so unhinged when I "broke up" with her, she quit her job at the end of that day. Then she left Scranton, because she couldn't face her family, friends and co-workers anymore, after she had been gushing to them that I was The One and she was gonna marry me. She moved in with a female friend in Washington DC. Then she decided to be gay, and posted a profile on a lesbian dating website. I guess I had ruined men for her for good. Well, no, actually her lesbian phase didn't last very long. But she did try to kill herself.

Anyway, a day or two after Patty and I parted ways at Kennedy Airport, and I stayed with Donna in Brooklyn, I drove to Liberty, to check out my new condo.

It was in a complex called Grandview Palace. It used to be a fancy resort called Brown's Hotel. The Browns was one of the most popular Catskills resorts a few decades ago. During its heyday, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, Harry Bellafonte, Tony Bennett and many other famous celebrities performed there regularly. In 1997, it was converted into a condo complex and renamed The Grandview Palace. The lady at the front desk told me that the movie Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze had been filmed here in the 80s.

I bought the condo dirt cheap at an online real estate auction, while I was in Florida with Patty. The previous owner had simply abandoned it, and didn't even take his stuff. So the condo was fully furnished. Perfect! I could move right in. I just had to clean it up a little.

I picked Alice up in Middletown and she helped me clean. She liked the condo. It was small, but cute. It was on the third floor and the living room balcony overlooked the pool.

The reason why Alice had started texting me again all of a sudden, while Patty was visiting me in Florida, was because she had found out that she was pregnant, and she needed someone to talk to.

Hookers obviously have sex with a lot of people. But they usually don't like to kiss them, and they insist on using a condom. Making love, with kissing and no condom, is usually reserved for their boyfriend.

Alice and I had made love without a condom hundreds of times, but I respected her wishes and always pulled out and came on her stomach or back. I wanted her to trust me, and I didn't want to be the kind of guy who would make her feel powerless by cuming inside of her, unless she told me it was ok.

Papi didn't give a shit. If she tried to tell him to use a condom, or at least to pull out, he hit her. So she ended up getting pregnant by him. Just like she had gotten pregnant a few times by other dope boys in the past, and that's why I had seen those abortions in her medical records.

When Alice told me that she was pregnant by Papi, while we were lying in bed at the new condo in Liberty, it was pretty obvious that she was horrified by the idea of being tied to this abusive scumbag for the rest of her life. But she had promised herself that she would never get another abortion. So now she felt trapped. She really wanted to terminate her pregnancy, but she needed someone to tell her that it was ok to get the abortion.

When Alice had told her grandma Gina a few days earlier that she was pregnant, she had hoped Gina would tell her not to keep the baby and not to throw her life away with a guy like Papi. But Gina was convinced that Alice's baby was God's will. Gina believed that the baby was sent by God to turn Alice's life around. She was convinced that once Alice had this tiny little person to take care of and love unconditionally, she would get clean and stay clean.

Although I do believe that unconditional love is the key in a drug addict's recovery, I didn't believe for a second that having a baby with Papi Chuloco, the abusive drug dealer, was going to get Alice clean. Being tied to this violent lowlife would probably drive her to commit suicide, before it made her consider getting clean. I had seen enough girls like Mary, and Alice's other close fried Becky, who had kids and then continued to do drugs anyway, because the fathers of their children were garbage.

I told Alice that I disagreed with Gina, and if she had this baby, her life would not be idyllic like a Norman Rockwell painting, but like the miserable life in Turn The Page by Metallica.

Remember I mentioned earlier that many bands produce two versions of their music videos? A censored one for America, and an uncensored one with nudity for European music TV. Metallica's uncensored version of the music video for Turn The Page shows a blonde woman who lives in hotel rooms with her little daughter. During the day she works in a dirty strip club, taking her clothes off in front of oogling perverts, while her little daughter waits for her backstage. And at night she walks the streets as a hooker and has sex with abusive men who rape and beat her in the same hotel room she shares with her daughter. It's a really, really sad video.

That video is one of the reasons why I don't like going to strip clubs. How is it sexy to sit in a dirty room filled with a hundred sweaty predatory douchebags staring at a naked girl? The dick to pussy ratio in that room does not work for me.

And the one time someone had talked me into going to a strip club with them, I just felt bad for the girls. I just wanted to give them a hug, not stare at their naked bodies. These girls all had this empty stare in their eyes while they were on stage, like they really didn't want to be there, and their mind was somewhere completely different. Kinda like what happened to my mind when my father tried to break through my bedroom door and kill my mother and me.

Anyway, Alice agreed that having a baby with Papi would definitely not make her life better and she definitely would not get clean because of it. She knew how miserable her friend Mary's life was. It really was just as bad as the girl's life in that Metallica video. And Alice knew how messed up in the head Mary's little son Mikey was because of it.

Alice's friend Becky was not much better. Well, she wasn't a stripper or a hooker yet, because she had managed to limit herself to shooting only one bag of heroin at a time, and only twice a day, so her habit was just $20 per day. But even she couldn't quit drugs when she had her baby, and her daughter ended up being taken away from her. Alice did not want to go through that, so she decided to get an abortion.

I heard when Papi found out, he beat the shit out of her, as usual. She was afraid for her life whenever she was around him. It broke my heart to hear that.

I told her she could come live with me at the condo in Liberty whenever she wanted: "Just say the word, and I'll drop everything and come get you. The one thing I ask is that you go to rehab and at least TRY living a sober life with me for a while, and see if you like it."

That was a deal breaker for her. As much as she liked being with me, because she felt safe and comfortable around me, and I treated her with love and respect, she didn't want to get clean. Not today. At some point in the future, yeah. When she's ready. But not today. Never today.

Finally she couldn't take the beatings from Papi anymore and ran away from him. But she didn't come to me. She ran back to Curly and stayed in motel rooms with him, while he pimped her out. I was so upset. I fucking hated all these God damn dope boys!

I heard that Papi was looking for Curly, because Curly stole "his" girl. I hacked Curly's phone and got his location. Then I sent an anonymous text to Papi and told him where to find Curly.

Curly and Alice were alone in the motel room together, when Papi knocked on the door. Papi was huge. Curly was tiny. He never stood a chance. As soon as he opened the door, Papi suckerpunched him. He stormed into the room and threw Curly to the ground and just started beating the shit out of him, while holding Curly's frizzy hair with one hand so that he couldn't get up or fight back.

Curly was crying for help. Alice screamed at Papi to stop or she was going to call the cops. When she picked up the phone, Papi ran off.

Hacker vs Dope Boy: Hacker wins. I wanted to beat the shit out of Curly, but I didn't even have to do it myself. I made Papi do it, and he never even knew I was using him.

Now Curly was thirsting for revenge. He had been utterly humiliated in front of "his" girl. Papi had made him scream for help like a little bitch. Curly couldn't just let that go. He needed to restore his honor.

Curly said he was going to kill Papi. He called his homies. They had guns, knifes and baseball bats. They went on a manhunt, looking for Papi. Papi didn't have a crew. He was fresh off the boat from Puerto Rico. Now he was hiding somewhere, because he didn't stand a chance alone against a bunch of armed thugs. Nobody knew where he was. So I hacked Papi's phone and sent an anonymous text to Curly and his homies, with Papi's location. Nobody ever heard from Papi again after that night.

Curly was still pissed at Alice, because he was sure that she had told Papi where she and Curly were staying, so Curly believed that whole clusterfuck had been her fault. He beat her and kicked her out. Now she had nowhere to go, and she called me and asked me if she could stay with me at the condo in Liberty.

From that point on she lived with me and she didn't escort or sleep around anymore. We stayed in Liberty, close to Middletown, because that's where her latest drug dealer, Enrique, was. Enrique was Tattoo's cousin. Somehow word got around that if I was pissed at a dope boy, bad things started happening to him. So Enrique was always very polite to me, when Alice and I stopped by his house to get her "medicine." He seemed scared of me.

By now Alice's habit had gotten worse. She could no longer get through the day on 10 bags of heroin. Now she needed 20 bags, so her habit was now $200 a day.

Drug addiction is a progressive disease. In the beginning one bag of heroin will get you high and make you feel really good. Then, after a few weeks, your body gets used to it, and shooting up just one bag won't do anything for you. So now you need to shoot up two bags at a time, to get the same effect one bag used to give you. And then, after a few more weeks, you need to shoot up three bags at a time. And so on and so forth. And the more heroin you shoot each time, the sicker you get when it starts to wear off. It's a vicious cycle.

I hated throwing away $200 a day, but I would rather do that than see Alice go back to escorting or staying with some abusive dope boy. But every chance I got, I tried to talk her into going to rehab. But any time I brought up the topic, she'd get very defensive: "You promised you wouldn't push me to get clean if I come live with you! I'll get clean when I'm ready. But I'm not ready yet!"

It had been a long time since we had been to Hawaii together. She had told me a few months ago that Hawaii seemed so far away now, like it was all just a dream. I hoped, maybe if I refreshed her memory about how happy she was, it would encourage her to get clean. We went on a two week trip to Florida, so I could show her the condo in Bonita Springs. She smuggled 280 bags, $2800 worth of heroin, on the plane between her legs. I'm sweating bullets just thinking back about it now.

She absolutely loved Florida. It was like Hawaii, but everything was cleaner, newer. We went to the Miromar Outlet Mall, the Coconut Point Mall, Coastland, Mercato, Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers Beach, Barefoot Beach, 5th Avenue in Naples, the pier, Matlacha, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, South Beach, Orlando, Disney World, and a bunch of other places. She felt just as happy as she had been in Hawaii.

I told her we could live here forever, instead of the tiny condo in Liberty. For the first time, she really seriously talked about going to rehab, and starting a new life in Florida with me.

When we got back to Liberty, it seemed so gray and inhospitable. It was getting cold and the trees had lost their leaves. The difference between Bonita Springs and Liberty felt like the difference between District 1 and District 12 in The Hunger Games.

We were in Liberty for just a week or two. Then we flew to Tennessee, to surprise her grandma Gina. They hadn't seen each other in over five years, ever since her mother had ripped her out of her home at her grandma's house. We pulled a similar stunt like what I had done to Donna, when I showed up at her door unexpectedly, while she was waiting for me on the phone.

Alice talked to Gina in the morning and mentioned how good the bagels in New York were. Gina said she really missed those bagels. She used to live in the Bronx as a child.

Then Alice and I bought a bag of fresh bagels for Gina, got on a plane and drove to her house. Right before we knocked on Gina's door, Alice called her on the phone. They started to talk about bagels again. Then she said: "You know what, grandma, let me give you some."

She knocked on the door, with the phone in one hand, and the bagels in the other. Gina opened the door, still talking to Alice on the phone. She looked right at Alice, but didn't recognize her at first, and said into the phone: "Hold on, Alice, there's someone at the door."

Alice started to laugh and said: "It's me, grandma!" She gave her a hug. Gina was shocked! She was ecstatic, she didn't even know what to say. She just kept hugging and kissing Alice. They both started crying. Then Gina started hugging me and kept saying: "Thank you, thank you, thank you." I started to tear up, too. It was just really touching to see how happy this reunion made them. We spent about a week in Tennessee and took Gina to Nashville. She had always wanted to go to the Grand Ole Opry.

When we got back to Liberty, life seemed like it was in black and white. It just felt so drab and dreary, even though we tried to make the best of it, and we went to shows in Manhattan or to a spa for massages. But now Alice was starting to realize how much better life could be. She asked if we could go to Florida again.

This time we drove, because I did not want to keep taking our chances at the airport, smuggling thousands of dollars worth of dope between Alice's legs.

Alice actually began to feel at home in the condo in Bonita Springs. She started thinking of ways to decorate it. We spent my birthday and Thanksgiving down there. She made a fancy turkey dinner with brownies for dessert. The things she had been through with Curly and Papi and that guy who treated her like a sex slave, and all those guys on Backpage, seemed like nothing more than a bad dream now.

She really wasn't crazy about going back to Liberty at all anymore. But we had to, because that's where her drugs were. At this point I had no idea yet how easy it is to find drugs in Fort Myers.

When we were back in New York, she talked more and more about going to rehab so we could move to Florida. I was so happy to hear her talk like that. She even wrote some of her friends on Facebook, that she wasn't going to be in New York much longer, because we were moving to Florida for good. Everything finally seemed to come together.

Through the grapevine Alice's mother Tory had heard that Alice and I had visited Gina. Tory didn't like that one bit, because she was jealous of their relationship. Alice was her daughter, but Alice kept acting like she was Gina's daughter. And Gina had even started referring to me as her son-in-law while talking to a waiter, when we had been at the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Nashville together.

Tory started calling Alice and asked her and me to come over and spent time at her house. Their relationship was strained at best. They were more like sisters than mother and daughter. And they had a weird rivalry, just like Patty and Rita. Tory always seemed to be in competition with Alice, and always wanted to have better things than her. She wanted to be prettier than Alice and made her feel ugly and fat, even though that wasn't true at all. Alice was beautiful. But her mother Tory wanted to be more beautiful. If Alice told her mother she was happy about a new pair of earrings, Tory told her they were tacky. If Alice told her she was happy about having eaten at a nice restaurant, Tory said she had eaten there, too, but she didn't think it was that good. She had better.

I really didn't like her. She was a toxic person in Alice's life. She was the reason why Alice had started taking drugs in the first place, and her parenting skills had not improved one bit. Tory had another daughter, more than twelve years after she had Alice. Alice's little sister Brianna.

Tory spoiled Brianna rotten. She got whatever she wanted. She could do no wrong. Meanwhile everything Alice did was always wrong. Tory made no secret out of the fact that Brianna was her favorite, and Alice was a huge disappointment. Tory kissed Brianna on the mouth all the time and was loving and affectionate towards her. But she never wanted to kiss Alice on the mouth. Alice told me she thought it was because Tory kept thinking about all the dicks Alice had sucked. I could tell how much it hurt Alice, to feel like even her own mother didn't love her.

While going through these years of turmoil with Alice, I read whatever I could find on the subject of drugs and addiction: Psychological profiles, medical reports, studies, statistics, interviews, and whatever else I could find. I figured, in order to try to help Alice, I needed to know as much about what goes on in her brain as possible. And I probably knew just as much about addiction as Patty at this point. Maybe more.

One thing every drug addict I met or read about seemed to have in common was a traumatic childhood. Almost all of them had been abused in some form or another, or abandoned by someone important in their lives. I've met many more addicts since then, and I have yet to find one who did not have traumatic abuse or abandonment in their past.

Anyway, Tory invited Alice and me to spent Christmas with her and Brianna. Alice was so excited, because this was the first time ever that her mom had allowed Alice to bring her boyfriend. I couldn't really blame Tory for that. Virtually all of Alice's previous boyfriends were dope dealing scumbags.

Christmas morning, Alice handed me a card:

"Merry Christmas, Sweetie!
I truly hope you have a great Christmas with me and my family. I am soooo glad you're here with me this year. You've helped to make it special. I don't know how to make that up to you. You've done so much for me and my family. I wish I could do more for you. This is a very special Christmas for me. It's the first time I and my mom have allowed someone to share it with me and my family. I wanted to give you all that I have. But it wasn't that much. I feel like I owe you everything. Merry Christmas.
I love you. Princess"

I was so touched. That card meant the world to me.

A few days later, we went to Florida again. Then we spend New Years Eve in Savannah. It's supposed to be the most haunted city in America. And the Kehoe House, a ritzy bed and breakfast, is supposed to be the most haunted house in Savannah. So that's where we stayed, hoping to see a ghost. Well, we didn't. Go figure. We also went ghost hunting at an old civil war cemetery at night. No luck.

When we got back to Liberty, Alice, on her own accord, set a concrete date for her rehab. She said she would check herself in on January 11th, 2011. 1/11/11. What a great date for a new beginning!

One or two nights later, we were watching the movie Dreamland in bed. I fell asleep, and while I was sleeping, she wrote me this letter:

"Hey there Sweetie :-)
As you're lying in bed sleeping next to me, I was just thinking how sweet and kind you are to me. I don't think I've ever said a simple "thank you." But, thank you! Thank you for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-a-n-g! Literally, jokes aside. Thank you.
Thanks for "taking me on" so to speak. Thank you for being kind. And as much of a cliche as it may be, it's true... Thank you for being you.
I just watched Dreamland (as you know.) And in this one scene, after the sick girl goes out on a date, her first date with her soon-to-be boyfriend, who she deeply loves, she walks in her house and asks the two people in the room something to the effect of:
"Have you ever had that feeling when something great is happening, and you feel like God is giving you this great moment that you're not good enough for, and you're not sure why, but it feels great?"
This, our time together, our relationship, the things we do, that's my great moment from God. Like when something good happens & you can't believe it's happening to you. You feel like you don't deserve it or it's not meant for you.
Well, you are my great moment, sweetie. I just wanted to say thank you for that. I appreciate you and the things you do for me. You should and deserve to know that sweetie. xoxo
Love, Alice aka Princess"

When I read that letter the next morning, it actually made me tear up. I was so touched. I loved that girl so much. When Alice saw me tear up while reading her letter, she smiled. She told me she loved me, hugged me, gave me a kiss, and then we made love.

It was only a few more days until January 11th. We decided to take a little trip to Niagara Falls. We had ordered Alice's passport a few weeks earlier, and it finally came. So we were going to go check out the Canadian side of the Falls. Our first international trip together! It was great. We had a lot of fun. We even went to Toronto for two days.

When we got back to Liberty, January 11th was only two or three more days away. Suddenly Alice began to change her mind and started saying that she wasn't ready yet and she would go to rehab on February 1st instead. It was the same old story: Not today. Not today. Not today.

I reminded her that it had been her own idea to go on 1/11/11 and that she was so close to finally changing her life for the better and being happy. She didn't want to hear it. She got hostile and told me if I didn't stop pressuring her into getting clean, she'd leave me, stay in a motel and post an escort ad on Backpage.

So I applied what I had learned from dealing with Donna, and used some reverse psychology. I told Alice that I was sick and tired of all her broken promises and that if she really wanted to go back to spreading her legs for every guy in town, and she really wanted to go back to sucking everyone's dick again, then go ahead. I told her I had tried my best, but obviously nothing I did was going to get her clean. She was a lost cause. Completely hopeless and worthless, and I told her to pack her things and I'd drive her to the Howard Johnson in Middletown right now.

She began to cry and told me she didn't want to go, and she promised she would go to rehab.

On the morning of January 11th, she woke up early and packed her bags like a little trooper. She didn't complain. She didn't argue. She didn't try to bargain. She didn't offer me sexual favors to let her do drugs just one more day. She really kept her word, and let me take her to the rehab center in Rhinebeck, New York.

That was probably one of the happiest days of my life. After everything we had been through together, she was really finally going to rehab, and we really were going to move to Florida together. Yayyyy!

When we arrived at the rehab center at 11 am, they told us Alice's insurance wouldn't approve her for a 28-day program, unless she showed signs of withdrawal. She had just done heroin before we left our condo, so she wasn't going to go into withdrawal for a while.

The admissions people told us there was nothing they could do, until her vitals showed signs of distress. So now Alice and I sat in the waiting room, waiting for her to go into painful withdrawal. This was insane! It's hard enough to get an addict to go to rehab, but to make them jump through hoops once they are there is just crazy. Everyone else in the waiting room was in the same boat. A bunch of them couldn't take it anymore and left to get high.

I expected Alice to cave any minute now and start whining that she wanted to go home and get high. But she didn't. She sat there quietly, with her head leaning against my shoulder, holding my hand, waiting to get dope sick. Hours went by. She seemed to melt like a snowman. She got weaker and weaker. She ended up lying down across some empty chairs. She started to feel like shit, and they still wouldn't take her in, until they got word from the insurance company. This kind of shit does not happen in Europe, where they have universal healthcare.

Finally, at 7 pm, they took her in. We kissed and said good bye. I never saw her again after that.

Some guy I had met a few months earlier, who was also dating a drug addict, told me that his girlfriend had been in rehab 27 times over the years. And a bunch of times she had met a dope boy in rehab and ran off with him. He said that happens a lot. He warned me that it might happen with Alice, too.

I mentioned that to Alice, while we were waiting for her insurance to approve her. I told her I was worried she might meet someone in rehab and run off with him. She laughed and said: "I would never leave you. Where would I ever find another guy like you? You have treated me better than I have ever been treated in my life. Trust me, you don't have to worry about me leaving you."

Well, she left me anyway. That guy had been exactly right. About ten days into the program, Alice ran off with someone she met in rehab. It wasn't even a latin dope boy this time, but some old white lady who pimped out young girls to pay for her own drug habit.

I was devastated. I couldn't believe the rehab administration didn't even bother to call me to tell me that Alice had run away. I was her emergency contact, for fuck's sake. But the lady in the administration office told me that "running away" did not constitute an emergency. It happened on a daily basis. I told her that I was worried sick, because I had no idea where Alice was. She said I should call the cops and file a missing person report.

Later that night I went to the police station in Liberty. It was snowing. There was only one cop in the building. He sat behind a glass enclosure. I walked up to the window and told him that my girlfriend had run away from drug rehab and I would like to file a missing person report.

He looked at me for a second and asked: "Why would you even want to find her?"

"Uhmm, because I love her," I replied.

What kind of a stupid question was that? What the hell was wrong with this cop?

He said: "Yeah, you obviously love her, otherwise you wouldn't be looking for her. But trust me, she doesn't love you. She's just some drug addict. They're all the same. They don't love anybody. That girl doesn't give a shit about you or anyone else. If I were you, I would run the other way. Don't go looking for her. Count your blessings that you got rid of her."

Then he got up out of his chair, opened the door of his glass enclosure and came out into the room I was standing in.

"I'm not talking to you as a cop right now. I'm talking to you as Dr. Phil. You look like a nice guy. You obviously care a lot about this girl, but take my word for it, she's not worth it. I don't even know her but I can tell you she's garbage. You know, we cops, we are guys, too. But nobody in this police station would ever want to date a drug addict. We'd rather be single. You're better off without her. Drug addicts are the scum of the earth."

"Uhmm, ok, thanks for the advice," I said and left. I was speechless. I really didn't know what to say to this guy. He was a cop. He dealt with drug addicts on a daily basis. So it's not like I could tell him he didn't know what he was talking about. And what got to me the most was that he wasn't trying to be an asshole. He genuinely tried to be helpful and give me good advice. Somehow I got the feeling that he had been in my shoes at one point. Maybe he used to date a girl who got addicted and then broke his heart.

I went home. The next morning, I called the police department in Rhinebeck. I spoke to a detective who was a lot more sympathetic. Maybe because he worked in the town where the rehab center was located, so he probably dealt with distraught family members of runaway addicts every day. Or maybe because he had seen how desperate those addicts in rehab were to turn their lives around. Who knows, maybe he even had a drug addicted teenage daughter.

He told me that there really wasn't much he could do to find her, but he would help me any way he could. He told me to talk to all of Alice's friends and aquaintances. He asked me if I had ever driven her to a dealer's house so she could get drugs. I was scared to admit it, but I figured I owed it to this guy to be honest, if I expected any kind of help from him.

"Yeah, I did. I know I shouldn't have. But I didn't know what else to do. If I hadn't taken her there to get drugs, she would have just run off and gotten them anyway," I said.

The officer told me not to worry about it. He said he knew what I had been going through, and that loved ones of addicts always fall in that trap. They try to help the addict, and then end up enabling them instead and making things worse: "You try to help them get off drugs, but somehow they manage to make you help them get drugs instead. Funny how that works."

Patty had told me a long time ago that love makes you vulnerable and addicts know that. When their addiction takes over, it turns them from loving human beings into sociopathic predators with the singular mission of chasing the next high, no matter who they have to betray to get it. And they know that the easiest, most vulnerable targets are the people who love them.

When you love someone, you do things for them you wouldn't do for anyone else. And when you really love someone, you forgive them over and over again when they hurt you. Addicts consider love a weakness they can exploit. And when their families have finally learned how an addict operates, the addict searches for new victims. Addicts throw the word love around, because it's the mightiest weapon in their arsenal. Even more powerful than sex.

Patty told me that they really can't feel love the way a sober person does, because the drug disrupts their brain chemistry to the point where they can't bond with another human being, the way sober people do. But they get really good at pretending to love you, because it gets them what they really want: drugs.

A drug addicted hooker will tell some random guy after having sex with him two or three times that she loves him, because she knows that if he believes it, he will end up being her braindead goon who will do almost anything for her, like give her money if she claims she is about to get evicted, or her cell phone is about to get shut off, or her baby hasn't eaten in two days, or she needs to get bailed out of jail, or she supposedly needs an abortion.

Not every guy is stupid enough to fall for the big love lie. But if a hooker tells enough guys that she loves them, one or two lonely guys are bound to fall for it. It's almost like going fishing. Or phishing. Phreakers used to play the same game when they tried to get people's credit cards. Not everyone fell for the big lie, that the hacker was an employee at the credit card company's fraud department and needed the victim's personal information to examine some unusual activity on their account. But there always were a few gullible people, so if the hacker kept calling enough people, and kept repeating the same lie often enough, eventually he ran into someone who fell for it.

I like to believe that Alice really did love me. But who knows. Maybe I was just another sucker.

Anyway, I did what the officer told me: I searched for her on Backpage, in case she had posted an escort ad. Nothing. I contacted all of Alice's friends. Nobody knew where she was. Not even Becky or Mary. I even called Kat. Then I called Enrique, her drug dealer. I guess I should have started with him.

He seemed nervous when he heard my voice: "Look man, I want no trouble with you. And I don't want to get in the middle of this."

"Don't worry," I replied. "I just need to know if you have seen Alice or you know where she is."

"Uhh, yeah, she's been coming around every day, buying dope from me. Look, even if I didn't sell it to her, she would get it from someone else. At least I know my stuff is good. She's staying with some old lady she met in rehab."

Once he told me that, I hacked his phone and got Alice's new number. Then I hacked her new phone and saw who she had been talking to and where she was staying. At the Super 8 in Newburgh.

She had called all her old "clients" and went right back to escorting, even without posting on Backpage. She was in some sort of weird relationship with that old lady. Maybe she felt that the old lady was a substitute for her mother, and giving that lady drugs would make her love Alice the way her mother never loved her. I don't know.

I called Alice's new number a bunch of times. She kept ignoring me. Then, finally, after a few days, she answered the phone. I tried to convince her to let me take her back to rehab. No chance. Then I asked her to at least come home with me. Nope. Wasn't gonna happen. When we were together, she had been the sweetest girl in the world. When we said good bye at the rehab admission office, everything was ok between us, and we were about to move to Florida after she got out of rehab, and we were going to live happily ever after.

But now she was suddenly acting like a total bitch. Like I was her worst enemy. Well, in her drug-crazed mind I was. I was the guy trying to get inbetween her and what she loved most in the world: her drugs. That made me the bad guy in her eyes. The way she talked to me reminded me of a dog growling at me because I'm trying to take away his bone.

Alice's friend Becky was worried about her, too. So she kept calling me to find out if I had found her yet. I told her that I had talked to Alice, but she didn't want to come home. Becky asked for Alice's new number, so maybe she could talk some sense into her. But Alice wouldn't answer the phone for Becky either.

Becky and I started talking every day, and we ended up hanging out a few times. Becky was really nice, but of course it didn't take me long until I realized that Becky wasn't just concerned about her missing friend Alice, or trying to cheer me up because I was so heartbroken and needed a shoulder to cry on, but that in the back of her head she figured it couldn't hurt to get on my good side now that I was unexpectedly single.

Oh, and guess who I found on Backpage while searching for Alice. Linda, the scam artist who had conned me into paying for her fake abortion not just once but twice about a year and a half earlier. Apparently she had moved from answering personal ads and scamming unsuspecting guys, to placing escort ads. Aaand she now had a new baby girl! Just a few months old. At first I thought I suddenly had a baby daughter. But Linda said it wasn't mine. Once I did the math, I found out that Linda had already been pregnant before I met her. She told me she was sorry for scamming me into giving her money for an abortion by pretending it was my baby back then. She said she really had planned to get an abortion, but then she changed her mind.

When I asked her about what made her start escorting on Backpage, and whether she was on drugs, she said she wasn't. I didn't believe her. She was way too squirrely to be sober. She told me that she wasn't proud of being an escort, but she just couldn't find a regular job, so she did what she had to do. "It is what it is," she said. I hate when girls who escort use that phrase as if it justifies everything.

She told me she hated doing that stuff, because no self-respecting guy wants to be in a serious relationship with a whore, so it was a very lonely life. And most of the guys who tricked with hookers made these girls feel like shit.There were even online forums, where guys rated girls on their looks and their "skills." I had found some reviews of Alice. It broke my heart to read what a bunch of random strangers had to say about having sex with my little Alice.

Linda agreed that a lot of these guys enjoyed being cruel in their reviews. They liked the sense of power they got from talking about a girl like she was a piece of meat or a toy. Linda told me she tried not to let her bad reviews get under her skin, but that wasn't easy, because she was ashamed even of her good reviews. She told me that after getting too many complaints, she had even learned to allow random guys to cum in her mouth and swallow. Something that had always made her gag and throw up in the past.

I had called her, just in case she might know where Alice was, because Alice and Kat had told me a long time ago that most of the girls on Backpage know each other. But Linda didn't know Alice. She hadn't been in this "business" long enough yet.

Like Becky, Linda also figured it couldn't hurt to get friendly with me again, now that I was single. So Linda started calling me almost every day, acting concerned and offering me her shoulder to cry on. She had a lot of insights into the mind of an addict and told me that I shouldn't take what Alice did to me personal, because that's just what addicts do. I told her she knew way too much about drugs and the drug mentality for a sober person. She finally admitted that she "used to" smoke crack and had been in rehab for it. I was pretty sure she didn't want to admit that she had relapsed, and her crack addiction had made her resort to escorting. I felt bad for her young son and baby daughter.

I had bought and sold about four or five condos in the Grandview Palace in Liberty. I decided to sell the last one, the one Alice and I had been living in. I made up my mind to finally end things for good with her. Well, actually she had made up my mind for me, since she was the one who broke up with me and refused to come home. Anyway, I got rid of that condo and moved to Florida.

Bonita Springs, and the whole Southwest Florida metro area, from Fort Myers to Naples, had seemed like paradise, the few times Alice and I came here together. We thought it was the perfect getaway to escape the drugs in New York. We had no idea that Fort Myers has a drug problem that is probably even worse than in New York.

Everything that had happened so far was about to seem like child's play, compared to the bizarre things that were about to happen next.

"The truth brings with it a great measure of absolution, always."
R.D. Laing

"Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes; this is partly because it gets unobstructed hold of the hearer’s mind without his being distracted by secondary thoughts, and partly because he feels that here he is not being corrupted or deceived by the arts of rhetoric, but that the whole effect is got from the thing itself."
Arthur Schopenhauer



Find out what happens next:

 Bad Choices Make Good Stories 2
The Heroin Scene in Fort Myers

Oliver moves from New York to Florida. Battling with depression, he gets sucked into the seedy underworld of Fort Myers, where he encounters a number of female drug addicts. He empathizes with them because of his own traumatic past. Oliver feels compelled to try to help them escape the addict lifestyle, but he soon finds out that he is in way over his head.

OSense O-Sense