Steps 2, 3, 5 & 8, from 12, by M. Keala Miles, Jr.

STEP 2:

Come to believe that only a power greater than ourselves will restore us to sanity

GAMBLING ADDICTION

ADDICT. So we had this county fair when I was really young. I didn’t even really like the rides. I liked to play the games. I like to try to win prizes. It’s a thrill, you know, to try to WIN something.

ECHOES: win…win…win…win…win

ADDICT: I like to WIN. No, I LOVE to WIN.

My favorite game was the basket toss. You have to put the right amount of backspin and throw the softball at just the right arc to get it to stay in the basket. I figured it out pretty quick. I got so many oversized stuffed animals from that game.

My dad started to go crazy because I had too many bags of prizes stacked up in the garage.
He said I had to choose which ones I wanted to keep. I couldn’t do it; so he picked three bags at random and gave the rest to charity.

I cried for nine days.

When I got older, I finally started to go on the rides.

And I was terrified at first: Roller coasters look so dangerous.

And then you get off the ride and you feel like, it almost feels like you won the prize. Like “I conquered this huge metal monster!” I…fucking WIN!

THAT stuck with me.

That thrill, for WINNING.

As you get older you keep finding ways to win. It’s a continuous discovery. You take risks every day and you win every day. What will get me downtown faster? The trolley or a cab? Should I eat Thai or Italian? Can I push for one more mile on this run? Do I negotiate a promotion?

Some risks, some WINs are bigger than others.

When I was 25, my boyfriend took me to Vegas. It was my first time…it would definitely not be my last.

Fucking roulette. I fucking love roulette. Just that tick…tick…tick…tick………tick………tick…

It’s like a song you don’t want to end.

Then it’s over.

Just like that.

I close my eyes and hear that tick…tick…tick…tick…tick. Tick. Tick. Over and over. The reward is never worth the risk. How much money have I thrown down at that table? Year after year.

I still need that thrill. I just wish it would last longer. I just wish I knew how to make that feeling last forever.

But that feeling can’t last forever, right? But I don’t know how to walk away.

That’s why I am here.

***

STEP 3:

Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood THEM.

NARCOTICS ADDICTION

When my dad died I was 13, and my mom suddenly became this completely different person. She seemed to have even more life…

It’s crazy. When you’re a kid, you don’t really understand that your parents had a life before you were born. Like you just feel like you are the center of their universe, you know; I mean, you ARE the center of the universe.
But I didn’t have a dad, anymore. I felt like I was going crazy. And I was like, where’s my MOM? Why isn’t she here? And it was almost like he lost his life and she found it and was making sure to suck out every last moment of joy from whatever he left behind.

And I blamed her for sucking the life out of him and I blamed her for letting him beat the shit out of me and I blamed her for turning her back on me and then in the middle of a cocaine weekend I found myself on my knees in a gas station bathroom sucking some stranger’s cock for blow…

I mean, I guess that’s what they call a moment of clarity?

He looked down at me and said, “You don’t have to do this.”

I got up off the floor. He put his pants back on, gave me enough for a couple bumps and he left, quietly.

I just stood there in a row of sinks and mirrors.

And I’d like to say that was the last time, but it wasn’t.

I can’t trust myself. So I came here looking for trust. For faith in something other than myself.

You tell me I have to trust God. Fuck God.

God took my dad before I was even old enough to understand how important having a dad is. God is the one that put me in that room with my first rail. God’s the one that let him touch me.

I deserve better. (ECHO repeats)

I deserve a God that cares. (ECHO repeats)

I deserve to be happy. (ECHO repeats)

***

STEP 5:

Admission to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

HOARDING

Everything means something.

The box of Christmas cards and photos from your childhood.

I still have every report card from Kindergarten through 12th grade. All of my awards and ribbons and trophies.

They are all important.

The pen your boyfriend used to write you that note…

The note…?

I can’t FIND it!!!

The piece of pipe that burst during the blizzard of ’98; you had to replace it—with your uncle…who you never see, but happened to be stuck in town that week because of the storm.

It’s funny, sometimes how things work out.

The bag of stuffed animals you kept because they are all plush toys you got from family vacations to Disneyland. Eight years-worth of plushies. My favorite was Donald Duck. I know a lot of people probably like Mickey or Goofy better, but I was always a Donald Duck fan.

I always thought it was kind of weird that Huey, Dewey, and Louie had an Uncle Donald and an Uncle Scrooge but not mom or dad. What happened to their parents?

It always bothered me that nobody ever talks about their parents.

It also bothered me that none of them wore pants. Mickey wears pants. Goofy wears pants. Jiminy Fucking Cricket wears pants.

Is it cuz they’re ducks? But we never see them in the water!!!

Anyway, I had Donald and his three nephews and I got a new one every time we would go to Disneyland. But I also have Roger Rabbit and Dumbo and Mickey and Minnie both.

Some people, they don’t understand. They don’t understand how much everything means. Each thing. Each. Little. Thing.

Everything means something.

It must be in that box…where is that box?

And, I don’t know, its strange, to me, I guess, that here I am, in here, and they don’t understand; like, they don’t see, you know, like they don’t treasure things. Little things.

The way I do.

And I guess what I’m having the most trouble with is that I really don’t understand why it is considered unhealthy to think this way?

To treasure all the little things. And want to remember all the little things.

This was my mother’s wedding ring.

This is all I have of her.

Now that she’s gone. I feel abandoned.

I feel empty.

When I’m not collecting, I feel empty.

So I go out every day to find more things to collect. It doesn’t matter what they are.

But it should matter, because one day I came home and, I couldn’t even open the door. This is out of control.

I just want to come home. But I don’t know how. And I need help.

***

STEP 8:

Made a list of all persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends.

HOARDING

The hoarder returns. It has been at least three months since we last saw them.

It started with little things. Little things that had a story to tell. And it felt good to be a part of those stories. It was usually things that people left behind. I rescued them: discarded, forgotten things. Fuck that; I helped those stories along. I contributed.

I love that I got to be a part of history.

And now that is what they are: discarded and forgotten. History.

They are all gone.

But I guess when you live like this—with these kinds of things engulfing your life—it is easy to overlook how easy it could be to see it all go up in flames.

Because that’s what they did.

Two weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and my house was on fire. Like, at first, I thought maybe I was dreaming.   And then I could feel it, but it still felt like a dream too; you know how when you are half asleep and you hear a song or you smell something cooking and it gets incorporated into your dream?

It was like that…but then, eventually I realize that in my dream it smelled like something was burning. And I woke up to find the fire had made its way to my bedroom door. When I realized what was happening I quickly jumped out the window and I broke my ankle.

As I sat in the yard, wrapped in the quilt my grandmother crocheted when I was born, I realized that all those little things were gonna burn in that house. They were gonna burn and I couldn’t do anything about it.

When the smoke cleared and we start to go through the rubble it suddenly dawns on me that I almost gave my life for this disease. It turns out that I had left a stack of old newspapers and magazines next to a space heater in one of the bedrooms. I don’t remember even having a space heater; it certainly wasn’t on! But apparently it shorted out and that sparked enough of a fire.

By the time the fire department came the entire back bedroom was completely destroyed and it had made its way to my room. That’s where the firefighters stopped it; most of my bedroom was destroyed too. The bed didn’t melt down completely but it is definitely beyond salvage. They managed to spare half of the closet and the nightstand by the window.

That’s where I keep my son’s fetal death certificate. Somehow that tiny corner of the room was spared.

And I don’t know how to deal with that.

Context: SYNOPSIS: The title is taken from the common 12-step addiction recovery program philosophy, with each of the 12 scenes representing one of the steps. There are 6 addicts (to be played by 3 actors of any gender, race, or adult age), though there are more than 6 characters.

The “Echo” references are “chorus” parts during the prologue and intermission in which the three players embody the voices of temptation. You may ignore them, of course, for the purposes of a monologue.

 “12” received its world premiere at the 2015 San Diego International Fringe Festival. The three players were: James P. Darvas, Devi Noel, and Rhiannon McAfee. It was directed by Mark Stephan; presented at the 10th Ave Arts Center, Forum Theatre.

More information: Please refer all questions or requests for the full play to: mkealamillesjr@gmail.com

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