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Michael J Davis

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Member Since: Sep, 2012

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Donnie Ray
by Michael J Davis   

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Category: 

Literary Fiction



Donnie Ray Michaels finds himself on the streets in Southern California in a fictional tale of homelessness based on the author's experience and ideas


 Donnie Ray Michaels walked quietly through Balboa Park, his financially imposed sobriety beginning to cut into his consciousness like jagged pieces of glass. The late afternoon sun was cutting through tall palm trees making shadow patterns on the green grass below. A few blocks ahead were a small red two-story building. Inside the building was a clinic, across the street from the Park. Sometimes they took blood donations for plasma. A person could get twenty dollars for a donation, and it would help to have some cash in his pocket. He hadn’t worked in a long time, and the last time he tried, it did not go well. This past year was spent in another rehab, this time the Salvation Army rehab down on Main.

His mind went back to the last rehab, as he walked along. He remembers the way the structured environment made him somehow more secure, even though it was often a drudgery of rules and busy work. There were trips to the bay and the zoo, in between meetings on weekends. The meetings were mostly a place to get away from the routine. He would listen to one story after another and it was over. He spent a lot of time at the library and bookstore downtown. He was far from the illiterate he was expected to be, and had always loved to read. In the pages of a book, he remembered being transported to places far away from this life, to a place where people had something to believe.

With thought of a book, the Don transported himself to a time and place many years before. He sat on a brown vinyl recliner, the 8-track player cycled through ray Charles in the background. The family dog curled up at his feet as he devoured another Hardy Boys mystery. In the kitchen, mom prepared the food for the evening, while dad enjoyed a cigarette after a day at work. This memory was one of the peaceful times of life. A time of play, exploration, and complete oblivion to the chaos that surrounded his parents last years of marriage surrounded his childhood. The cares of adulthood never invaded the space of his child’s world, almost never.

It was a long road between then and now. Donnie wasn’t sure how he found himself on the streets of San Diego. He loved the town since his military training. Itself many years ago, military training in San Diego was a time of exploring new places and pushing boundaries. He worked hard all week and played all weekend. More memories of the carefree days of youth flood his mind as he approaches the red building. These memories never really stop. They fly through, often creating the jagged tension that makes him want to quiet his mind. Nothing quiets the mind like a good stiff drink. Alcohol worked in the past, to some extent.

Donald Raymond sits in the chair, doing what scores of people do for money in San Diego, wondering if the recipients of this life giving plasma really know where it comes from. He feels safe here, though. Not too many crowded, panicky feelings. Not like his first years in San Diego. He remembers walking across the pedestrian walk to the base parking lot, feeling as if every eye was upon him, judging and appraising him, wishing him to go back to the hills of southern Illinois with the rest of the hicks.

Alcohol was like a soothing balm on Donnie’s jagged nerves in those days. It helped him to realize just how much fun could be had in the Southwest, for those who could relax and enjoy the life. Those times on the beach, reading a good novel and enjoying a good drink. It was an unforgettable time in life, those years. Somehow, reality just didn’t always measure up to his inner world. He always assumed that everyone had an inner world. The place we all go just to be ourselves and not play the games of society.

The rules of society had always seemed like they were written in code, or in some foreign language. He had always wondered just how everyone took the social rules for granted while he was trying to figure out why they even made any sense. The best times D.R. could remember were times alone. He had grown up as an only child, following the pneumonia death of his little brother, and his little sister’s stillborn death. The deaths of his siblings tore his parents’ lives apart and destroyed his parent’s marriage. Somehow, much to their credit, they  were able to keep their one surviving child happy in the midst of catastrophe and poverty. It must have seemed hopeless, looking back on his own life.

Donnie Ray came from a life that was somehow charmed and troubled at the same time. His marriage was blessed with two adorable girls, a gorgeous little house in a peaceful neighborhood, and a church family that tried to take the place of his own family. It is best not to think too much, about what he thought he had, in public. Sometimes his wandering mind takes him to places that are not good, for those who wish to remain composed in public. Those beautiful years, soon the alcohol will take the sharpness away from his thoughts.

His reverie is broken, if briefly, by the routine of taking his money and finishing the task for which he came to the red building. His plasma donation will be clean. He is a drinker, not a user. Drugs scare him, although he has tried them. He thinks of the dealer he met on the beach, in years long past. He would get the hallucinogenic drugs, which this person was selling to support his own habit. He often wondered, in rehab, if his friend ever made it through rehab or got sober. He was sober for years, himself, but that really doesn’t matter. Addiction has a way of finding you, wherever you are, to pick up its love affair wherever you left off.

It is these darkening thoughts that accompany him into the park, where he must discreetly find a place to sleep. When he left rehab, people came looking for him, to tell him about places he should go, and avoid. He tried to remember the advice, but that beautiful park just draws him into its embrace as the sun sets. He finds a place on a hill by a highway. The sound of the cars is soothing, rhythmic. Don doesn’t hear the truck backing up to the bridge, but later he sees the light. No one confronts him. It seems his charmed youth retains some benefits. 


Excerpt

Donnie Ray Michaels walked quietly through Balboa Park, his financially imposed sobriety beginning to cut into his consciousness like jagged pieces of glass. The late afternoon sun was cutting through tall palm trees making shadow patterns on the green grass below. A few blocks ahead were a small red two-story building. Inside the building was a clinic, across the street from the Park. Sometimes they took blood donations for plasma. A person could get twenty dollars for a donation, and it would help to have some cash in his pocket. He hadn’t worked in a long time, and the last time he tried, it did not go well. This past year was spent in another rehab, this time the Salvation Army rehab down on Main.




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Reader Reviews for "Donnie Ray"

Reviewed by Sherry Heim 9/17/2012
Hi Michael, There is some good stuff in this but you need to rein it in a bit and make it more cohesive. I felt like a silver globe in a pinball machine, being hurled in so many directions that I felt dizzy and unable to follow where you were going with this. It almost seems like you catch a thought and run with it then repeat that execise in the next paragraph. Like I said, there is plenty here to write a story, but I think you need to pull it together a little bit more. I am not trying to be hurtful, at all, I have the utmost respect for anyone with the courage to post their works where others can judge them. I am trying to be helpful and I hope you accept my words in that way. Feel free to delete my comments if you would rather not have them on your page, I do understand. I will also admit that I am no ace at writing and I have tossed some turkeys on my wall in the past and probably will again in the future. I am not judging you or your abilities, I just want to see you achieve your goals with your writing and I honestly believe that you can.
Take care,
Sherry


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