By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
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Index of Chapter 3

3.1 - Home...for just a brief moment 3.6 - On Our Knees
3.2 - The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run 3.7 - At T. Henry and C. Williams' Home
3.3 - Meeting the Doctor 3.8 - The Meeting at T. Henry's
3.4 - Back to Cleveland 3.9 - The Message is Brought to Cleveland
3.5 - In the Hospital 3.10 - Cleveland Begins to Come of Age

Chapter 3.1

HOME...for just a brief moment

The crowning experience of all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear any more - except his God.

Viktor E. Frankl, MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING: An Introduction to Logotherapy (Beacon Press, 1959, 1963 by Viktor E. Frankl.

With an act of sheer determination, Clarence managed to make it back to his home. He was cold and numb, knee-deep in snow. He charged up to the front porch and looked around. A puzzled expression began to form on his face.

The screen door was still up, as were all of the screens on the windows. This, he surmised to himself, was the reason that he had been called, summoned in on his homing instinct. His wife needed him. She couldn't get along without his help and knowledge. The screens were all the proof that he needed. Everybody, he thought, knew that you don't keep the summer screens up all winter.

He pounded on the screen door which, much to his dismay, was locked with a hook on the inside. He shouted and continued to pound. He demanded to be let in. How dare she lock him out of his own home! He had forgotten he was told, in no uncertain terms, that he was forbidden to return there.

Eventually, Dorothy came to see who it was who was making all of this commotion. Upon seeing Clarence, she did not unlock the door. Rather, she spoke to him through the door. She kept the security chain on and opened the door as much as the chain allowed.

Clarence stood straight as he could and endeavored not to show her how cold he actually was. He pointed out to her that people didn't leave screen doors and windows up all winter long. He told her she needed a man around the house to take care of all these little details. He tried to utilize all his best sales techniques and ploys, plus good, old fashioned guilt, to convince her to let him inside. After all, he was freezing out there on the front porch. He also thought that if he were able to convince her at least to let him into the house, at least to let him warm up, he could then charm and talk her into letting him stay.

Dorothy was having none of this and would not budge an inch. She did, however, concede that she needed a man around the house. Clarence's hopes began to rise as his chest puffed out and his shoulders drew back. But this hope was deflated instantly when she told him she really didn't need one that badly. She also said that, even if she did, it certainly wasn't going to be him.

She did say, however, that she had a counter-offer to make to him. His hopes once again began to rise. Unbeknown to Clarence, many months earlier - after he had romped on the floor with Virginia's children - Virginia had found the need to call the family doctor. Her children had become very ill and since the doctors of that day still made house calls, the doctor came to her house.

After the doctor had examined the children, he and Virginia began talking. The conversation included her fears about Clarence. She told this doctor that Clarence was the best brother-in-law possible when he was sober. She related that, when she had had to go to Ohio to live with her sister, Clarence paid for all of her bills. These bills included an operation, there when she had taken ill. She told the doctor she felt that she owed not only Dorothy, but Clarence as well.

The two continued on, discussing the evils of drinking at great length and also "cures" that were available. Virginia's doctor did mention one very likely possibility. If Clarence was really willing to quit drinking for good, he knew of another doctor - this one in Ohio - who had had a great deal of success in working with alcoholics of Clarence's sort. Virginia's doctor related to her the sad story of his own brother-in-law, who had also been a seemingly hopeless alcoholic. He told her that this very same brother-in-law had not had a single drink of alcohol in almost three years. The doctor's brother-in-law had relied upon this same treatment that the doctor in Ohio had used so successfully.

As it turned out, Virginia's doctor was Leonard V. Strong. Dr. Strong's alcoholic brother-in-law was William Griffith "Bill" Wilson. The doctor in Ohio was Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith.

Virginia had written to Dorothy regarding this conversation and had given her sister Dorothy Snyder the name and address of the doctor in Akron. Virginia's doctor had given them to her on the off chance that Clarence might someday show up in Cleveland.

Dorothy remembered Dr. Robert Smith's name and asked Clarence through the slit in the door if he was now ready to stop drinking. "Yes, yes, " Clarence yelled, willing to say anything that might get him inside the house and into the warmth before he froze to death.

His hopes were once again dashed to the floor, however, Dorothy still refused to open the door, and would not let him inside. She told Clarence that Virginia had written her about this doctor in Akron who "fixes drunks," and that if he really wanted to quit, she would make sure he got to Akron to meet this wonderful man.

Clarence's mind was working on overtime. He was in desperate need of a drink. He was also in desperate need of getting warm. He figured that if he could just get into Dorothy's car for the long ride to Akron, he could then convince her to stop at a bar or liquor store and get him just one little drink. After that accomplished, he knew, his mind would be working better. Then, with the right fuel, he could convince her to turn the car around. She would then take him back home where they both belonged. After all, didn't he once sweep her off of her feet? He was sure that, with the right words, he could do it again.

Dorothy responded to the idea of getting her car. She brought their son to a neighbor's house and she and Clarence proceeded, towards what he thought was going to be Akron. During the ride, he could not convince her to stop anywhere, nor could he convince her to turn around. He became crestfallen when she pulled her car into the bus depot in Cleveland. She took her car keys and asked him to accompany her as she went inside. She purchased a one way ticket to Akron.

With that ticket, Dorothy handed him a small slip of paper. On it was the doctor's name, address and phone numbers: "Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, 810 Second National Building, Akron, Ohio. Office phone: HEmlock 8523, Residence phone: UNiversity 2436. Hours 2 to 4 PM."

She made sure that Clarence was on the bus when it left so that he could not cash in the ticket for money to buy alcohol. When the bus left the terminal, Clarence noticed that Dorothy also left. She followed the bus a few blocks to make sure that Clarence didn't convince the bus driver to let him off.

On the way to Akron, to while away the time, Clarence read a couple of newspapers he had found on the bus. The bus was warm, which, to Clarence was a little bit of heaven. Dorothy had given him a sandwich to eat. He was warm and fed, and the news in the paper was certainly exciting reading.

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