I decide to drive to New York City. I’ve made up my mind that I’m only going to stay in five-star hotels. I don’t know it yet, but I have lost my ability to plan ahead. Not completely, but enough to cause some problems — more problems, I should say. The executive function area, the area in the brain that plans for things and makes goals, is not working properly. There is a subtle shift in my mind, a shift in my crazy. Now that I’ve decided to leave my business and Christie there is some kind of change in my brain. I don’t have to spend all my time trying to find proof about Christie’s business empire. I just know and I’m tired of looking. I’m not angry anymore. It’s more of an acceptance. If that’s what Christie chooses, then I’m not going to stand in her way anymore. She can have it all. In fact, I even forgive her for doing this to me and the kids. I forgive her. I’m really sick. A new kind of psychoses takes its place. Maybe it’s not new, but it’s different.
I’m staying at the Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. A suite in one of the top floors. The place is plush if a bit dated. I meet a limo driver who says he can get me coke. Lucky me. I spend a week here. I really don’t remember much of this time. Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes I can remember almost every detail and moment of an event and then I reach a certain point and things are unclear. I spend a lot of time alone. A lot of time. By the end of the month, I’m back in Atlanta. I talk to Christie and she tells me clients are pissed. I don’t care. I also don’t believe her. She says she is handing off the clients who aren’t pissed to our art director. He is going to start his own business. I tell her that’s a good idea. Other than Christie and the kids, no one has heard from me in months. I become a wraith. I disappear. I close down my Facebook page, never answer my phone and refuse to even look at emails. I will be gone for two years almost to the day.
Shit’s about to hit the fan. I’m staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead, next to Lenox Square, Atlanta’s most prominent shopping mall. I head over to the Apple store because I have questions about my new iPhone. The guy who helps me is named Perri Minot. I can see it on his name badge. This is the first time I become aware of something my brain is doing without my consent. While I’m talking to Perri and he is helping me setup my iCloud account, another part of my brain is deconstructing his name. Minot becomes “I’m not.” Perri stays Perri. So now he is telepathically telling me “I’m Not Perri.” I get it now!! He wants to help me set up my phone so the satellites can’t find me. (Yes, they are still tracking me. If I’m not a danger to Christie’s empire then I’m at least a nuisance. The only reason Christie doesn’t have me killed is because I’m the father of her children.) Only Perri and I know this of course. He is one of the good guys. He finishes setting up my phone and I leave the store feeling pretty good about things. Someone or some group is trying to help me. Who? I start tossing around possibilities in my mind.
Sunday morning, March 11. I am up all night. I hear someone place a newspaper outside my hotel door. I grab the paper and start skimming the headlines. Within five minutes of reading a few local stories, I have come to the conclusion that Christie is having an affair with one of the cops at the Johns Creek police station. I get in my rental SUV and start driving toward Johns Creek. It’s a straight shot up Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. I’m listening to Wrecking Ball, the new Bruce Springsteen album. I pull into our driveway and burst into the house.
Where is he? Christie is terrified and I’m pissed. I don’t wait for an answer. I search the house. He’s not here. He must be at the police station about a mile away from our house. I jump into the SUV and speed toward the Johns Creek police station. I pull right up to the front doors, knocking over a flagpole in the process. I jump out of the car and start banging on the doors as hard as I can. Come out you fuckin’ pussy!! You want a fight? I will fuck you up, you little bitch! No one is coming out. WTF! I continue banging for a few more minutes.
No one is inside. It’s Sunday morning. No one is here.
How do I let them know I mean business? I decide to T-bone one of the cop cars sitting in the parking lot. I turn my SUV around, take aim, and floor it. I’m guessing impact was at about 55 miles an hour. The cop car flies through the air. I back up and do it again; just to be sure they knew I was here. I drive back to my house in my now beat-up SUV and tell Christie to come outside. She looks at me and at the car. My youngest is also at the door. He knows I’m sick. They call my dad and my dad calls the cops and tells them what I did and where I’m staying. I’m driving back toward the Intercontinental Hotel when the SUV gives out. The engine is steaming. I can’t believe I made it this far. I pull into a Mexican grocery store and leave the SUV. I pay a guy $50 to drive me the last few miles. It’s about 11:30, so I go into the bar and order brunch: deviled eggs. The hotel security guard informs me that I’m going to be arrested in a few minutes and could I please come with him. He puts cuffs on me and escorts me to a small room in the basement of the hotel. I never get to eat. I’m sitting quietly when a cop comes in, pats me down, and puts me in the back of his car. He also puts cuffs on me. Extra tight. He starts driving toward Johns Creek. First we have to stop and take pictures of the SUV I left at the Mexican grocery store. It’s a sunny day and warm. He parks the car so my eyes are directly in the sun. He tells me the car I totaled belongs to his partner. He asks some other questions. I don’t say much. We eventually get to the station.
As soon as we get inside, I’m handcuffed to a chair. The cop who picked me up at the hotel goes into the back to do the paperwork. I’m left with another officer who is very friendly. Officer Friendly. By this time word has gotten around that some crazy fuck just T-boned a cop car at the Johns Creek police station. This is an event. Shit like this doesn’t happen in Johns Creek. The cops start pouring in. All these officers got dressed up on a Sunday morning and come to the station just to see me. I’m wondering which one Christie is having an affair with. I can’t figure it out. They are sizing me up. What’s up with this asshole? I’m doing the same. One of them would be considered good looking enough, but he doesn’t appear to be that bright. Hmmm?
Maybe I’m wrong about this. Much ado about nothing.
I’m starting to get hungry. They tell me I’ll eat when I get to the Alpharetta jail. I’m thirsty. They get me a Dixie cup of water and pour it down my throat. They end up giving me five traffic citations. They walk me out of the Johns Creek station to a waiting cop car. Time to go to jail. I get inside. Something is not right. I know the officer driving the car! This is the same officer who came to my office in 2008 when I told my old partner about the hidden cameras in the ceiling of our advertising agency. I ask if he remembers me. He does. He gives me the same look as the fireman.
I’m not an idiot, though. This is no coincidence. My office is eighteen miles from my home. A completely different county. He tells me he transferred here about a year ago. It was closer to his home. I’m not buying it. He is here for one reason: me. They are following me by satellite, and T-boning this cop car takes my game to another level. They need to keep a closer eye on me. I keep my mouth shut. Remember, I have someone helping me too. I just don’t know who yet.
I bail out of jail around 11 that night. It has been a long day. This is my first real experience with the police and jail. It won’t be my last. I have no idea how bad things are going to get.
On March 14, I fly back to New York and check in to the Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Five stars. The location is perfect. It’s close to Central Park and the Guggenheim Museum. Luxury stores too. I start wearing my headphones all the time. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, put on my headphones. I listen to music constantly. I’ve had a love affair with music since I purchased Queen’s A Night at the Opera at the ripe old age of twelve. In high school it was Led Zeppelin, Yes, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen. In college I would listen to any band that was introduced on MTV. Music videos were all the rage at the time. I would watch MTV for hours waiting for a favorite song. I devoured Rolling Stone and Creem Magazine to read about new artists. As I got older, work took over and I spent less time reading about my favorite bands. I lived for the mixtape.
At some point, after the boys were born, I stopped mixing tapes and started listening to the radio on the way to work in the morning. If something struck me as interesting and exciting, I would then buy the entire album. Like Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Ryan Adams’ Gold. At this point, I don’t go out of my way to find new music. It has to find me. And when it does, it’s usually not new anymore, but it’s new to me.
Bottom line: Like most of us, music has been a part of my life since I was a kid. But now I don’t listen to make myself feel good; I listen to make myself feel normal. I buy a thousand songs from the Apple Store. A few hundred videos as well. Mostly rap and pop music. Always Springsteen. I have to have Springsteen.
My closest companion is my iPhone. My second closest companion is coke. I meet the same limo driver from my previous trip and he hooks me up. He also chauffeurs me around when I feel like going out for a city drive. I mostly walk, though, with my headphones firmly in place. I start buying expensive clothes. I have a love for men’s fashion. I go on a spending spree, the first of many.
The music starts to influence my mind. It’s telling me what to do. If not telling me directly, it is certainly influencing how I think and what I think about. There is a hidden message in every song. No, it would be more accurate to say there is a message for me in every song. It goes beyond the lyrics and the music. Someone is sending me messages in the music. I’m not sure how or if I trust them. It feels different than being followed by the government satellites, but I don’t really trust anyone. It feels better than being paranoid all the time. It feels good. It gives me comfort.
Reading also has an affect on my mind. In a few years I will read how John Nash, the mathematician from the movie A Beautiful Mind, thought aliens were trying to communicate with him through The New York Times. Everything I read has some sort of subtext. I have come to the conclusion that someone from inside the government wants me to know what’s going on. He is an ally. I have no idea why he wants to help me. He’s the one doing this. I can only communicate with him on his shift. His shift changes from day to day. Sometimes he works through the night. He doesn’t use the print edition of The New York Times. He’s more high tech; we communicate through the dictionary on the iPhone. When I double-click on a word I’m typing, the black bar comes up: cut/copy/paste/replace/define/share.
All I have to do is click on /define/ and we can communicate. It’s brilliant. I have no idea how this technology works. It doesn’t matter. I have no idea how the iPhone works either.
It’s early evening. I’m lying in the bed of the hotel listening to music, waiting for my government insider to contact me. I’m also high on coke. The idea comes to me that both J.Lo and Shakira are in the hotel bar waiting for me. They want to tell me something, but I have to meet them in person. They will be in disguise. I will know who they are but no one else will have a clue. This is exciting. I’m a fan of both artists. What could they possibly want to tell me? I shower, put on some new clothes, and hurry to the bar. I stand in the entrance and look in. The bar is small. Two women are sitting at a small table. They look nothing like J.Lo or Shakira. This must be them! Excellent makeup artists. Great job, Hollywood!
I walk over and ask to sit down. Sure. I offer to buy them a round of drinks. Then this happens. I will never forget it. Shakira reaches out and squeezes my right hand. “We are worried about you,” she says. I tell them I’m fine. She tells me that she thinks I might want to party just a bit less. Real concern. I tell her I will think about it. “OK,” she says. We sit, have drinks, and talk for over an hour. I need to get back upstairs and do some more coke. I’m also pretty sure my government contact is working now. I want to read what he has to say. I actually get their phone numbers before I go. At about 2 in the morning, J.Lo sends me a picture of her and Charles Barkley, the basketball player. She is still in disguise. Charles Barkley looks like Charles Barkley.