It was January the 3rd 2011, last day of the Christmas holidays before Mort was due to return to work. It was ten o’clock in the morning and the four of us were doing a jigsaw puzzle with the Beatles playing in the background and the girls belting out “Na na na nanana Hey Jude“. I had told Mort that I was proud of him. I was allowing myself a moment of contentment, it was a short moment.
We took a break so that the girls and I could whip up a batch of pancakes. As I was in the kitchen I looked over at Mort who was sitting on the sofa flipping through the tv channels. I saw it, there was a ‘tell’….he squinted his eyes and did this tongue poking out thing. I knew immediately that he wasn’t sober.
I put the pancakes on the table and snuck out to the garage to rip through his car. It didn’t take long for him to realise that I was gone and he came out to query what I was doing. I said, “You’re not right and I know it. Simply looking for the evidence”. He became extremely agitated/wounded “just half an hour ago you were telling me how proud you were and now you are accusing me. How could you not trust me. Shit, thanks a lot Ripley for your support and encouragement.”
And there we stood for a silent moment….”Breathe”, I demanded. “What do you mean breathe?” he said while inhaling knowing exactly where I was going with it. “I want to smell your breath.” After some resistance he let out the tiniest little puff of air. I couldn’t smell it definitively but I was charging ahead regardless because I just knew. Through clenched teeth I told him that I could smell the vodka.
His defensive stance and mouth slightly ajar after saying ‘what’ …..it was even more of a tell. After much back and forth….”you have”, “I haven’t”…..I took it to that place when teaching my girls about lying….”if you tell me the truth you will not be in trouble.” I caught the slightest movement in his eye, he was processing it.
Funny how in those condensed, compressed, heavy moments small things can filter through. Standing in the hot garage I could hear the slight lilt of my girls laughing, and just above it I could hear the Beatles CD still playing…..”Don’t let me down”.
And then it came…..he said that he had ‘only’ taken a couple of sleeping pills. (no doubt also washed down with vodka). Needless to say I revoked my false promise of immunity.