Barbara looked at her watch. It was already two in the morning. How could she have gambled for so long? She only had five dollars left to bet, since she had already lost all of the money she had in her checking account and her deposit wasn't going to be credited until 9am the next morning. Perhaps she could win back enough money to spend the night at the hotel she was in. Barbara put her last five dollars into the slot machine. No luck!
Barbara wiped the perspiration from her face as she felt the recurring palpitations of her heart within her chest. What was she going to do? She has never been in this predicament before. She was so far from home without any money for lodging or food and, worse yet, she didn't have a sufficient amount of gas to get her past the nearest rest stop. There was no one she could turn to for help. She could not borrow any more money from her best friend, Sheryl; Sheryl's father's provocative declaration that she was incompetent and no good because of her compulsive gambling addiction made that abundantly clear. She couldn't ask her parents for help because they had disowned her years ago due to the fact that she had stolen some money from them just so that she could get some money to live on.
Fortunately, Barbara had one last convenience check available, but the deposit that she had made with it wouldn't be available until the next morning and, as of her most recent balance inquiry, she had exceeded her credit limit by 10,000 dollars and any charges would be declined. What was worse was that her checking account was overdrawn by 6000 dollars and was in danger of being closed and most likely would have been had she not made that deposit earlier day with the convenience check.
There was one good thing at least, Barbara thought to herself. She found five dollars on the ground that she could use for dinner. What she was going to do for the rest of the night was anybody's guess. Perhaps she could spend the night on a bench inside the casino. Maybe she would be left alone to wait hours and hours until she could access funds from her ATM. On the other hand, Barbara reasoned, security might question why she was sitting on the bench for so long and would ask her to leave. Wanting to avoid that embarrassment, Barbara decided that she would spend the night in the rest stop near to Primm and would return to the hotel in the morning.
It was cold and dark at the rest stop, and Barbara did not have the clothing to shield herself from the 40 degree weather outside. Nevertheless, she decided that she would try to make the best of her situation, and she locked the doors to her Red Honda Åccord and climbed into the back seat, pulling her thin powder blue jacket over herself like a blanket. Being too tall and too wide for the backseat it was a struggle for her to get to sleep, and she tossed and turned and tossed and turned. Finally, she decided to give up and go back to the hotel and risk being asked to leave. It was just too darned cold out in the rest stop and she didn't want to freeze to death.
Just as she was about to leave the rest stop, however, she heard a knock on her window. She looked outside and saw a homeless person outside her window motioning for her to open the door.
"Please help me! I need some food! Please help!" the woman cried.
" I'm sorry. but I can't. I don't have the money!"
" Please help me! I need food! Please help!"
" I told you I can't help you! Please go away!"
The homeless person cried, " I know you have the money. You don't want to help me because I'm Hispanic. I'm not going to leave until you give me some money!" When Barbara refused to do so, the woman became more desperate and more irate, as she stepped in front of Barbara's car and tried to block her from leaving. Suddenly two homeless men joined her and also tried to block Barbara from leaving. Not knowing what to do and being completely terrified, Barbara put her foot on the accelerator, put her car in reverse, and backed away from these people and headed immediately for the hotel where she spent the rest of the night.
It was a long night. Being as it was only 2am when Barbara arrived back at Buffalo Bill's, Barbara knew that she would have many long hours ahead of her. She hoped that no one would approach her and ask her to leave. Before she knew it she dropped her head and fell asleep on the bench. Suddenly she felt a gentle touch on her shoulder and she jumped to her feet instantly as she was a light sleeper. Who should she meet but her best friend's father who surprisingly was looking at her with an expression of concern.
"What are you doing here, Barbara?" Mr. Tyler asked. " I thought you had stopped gambling."
Barbara didn't know what to say. She was still angry and hurt from their last encounter when he called her "incompetent" and "no good." Turning away from him she headed back through the casino to the parking lot. Noticing that he was following her, she headed for the women's room and went in there to hide. She figured that if she stayed in there long enough he would eventually leave. Two hours later she left the bathroom only to face the stern and unrelenting Mr. Tyler at the exit.
" Is Sheryl with you?"
"No. I wouldn't bring her with me on a trip like this."
" Why are you here? Are you gambling again?"
"It's none of your business why I'm here. Please leave me alone!"
Barbara tried to evade Mr. Tyler, but he grabbed onto her arm and prevented her from leaving.
"Don't talk to me like that!Answer me! Are you gambling again? If you are, I don't want you to see my daugher again."
Suddenly a security guard approached the two of them and Barbara cried out for his help.
"What's going on here?" the security guard asked.
Mr. Tyler's countenance changed and he became very pleasant. " Nothing, sir, we're just old friends having a conversation."
Barbara denied this vehemently. " Sir, I don't know this gentleman and he's been threatening and harassing me all evening. Can you please take him away? He even called me "incompetent" and "no good".
"Come with me, sir," the official said, taking Mr. Tyler's arm. " I need you to leave the casino, please. We can't have you disrupting our customers.'
"She's lying!" Mr. Tyler shouted, his face filled with rage. "How can you believe a stupid compulsive gambler over me? Barbara, you are never to call my daughter again!"
"You are making a scene, sir, and it's time for you to leave." The security guard motioned to a friend of his to help him and the two of them escorted Mr. Tyler out. Barbara smiled with triumph as her revenge was complete. By this time it was 6am and she only had three more hours to wait. The thought occurred to her that he may try to phone her parents to tell them about the incident, and she felt her heart race within her chest once more. There was nothing she could do except wait out the next few hours.
At 9am Barbara withdrew the money that she needed, and she headed home. She was so tired by the time that she got home that she fell on top of her bed and went to sleep. Not knowing what she should say to Sheryl if anything about the incident, she decided to do what was in her nature to do; she avoided all phone calls.
Feeling depressed over her relapse and the run in with Sheryl's father, Barbara decided to spend the rest of the day in bed. At 6pm that night she was aroused from a deep sleep by a loud pounding on the door. She looked outside the window and saw to her horror that it was Sheryl and her parents. She pretended that she was not there, but she forgot that her parents had an extra key to her house and within a few minutes they entered the house and called for her to come downstairs in her townhouse.
" You went gambling again, didn't you? We thought you were done with all that!" Mr. Horton said disappointedly.
" How did you find out?" Barbara asked, knowing full well that it was Mr. Tyler's phone call that alerted them to the incident.
"Mr. Tyler phoned us. He said that you were spreading lies about him and that you had security take him out. What is going on with you?"
"Mr. Tyler is a f......liar!" shouted Barbara even though she knew that Sheryl was present.
"How dare you do this to my dad and say unkind things about him? He only wanted to stop you from gambling!" shouted Sheryl. " He told me he doesn't want me to see you anymore, but I told him that you needed help and I wanted to be a support for you."
"I don't need your help or anyone's help! Please everyone just leave me alone!" Barbara screamed and she went upstairs to her room and slammed the door. She could hear her parents and Sheryl talking below about giving her a choice of having a forced intervention with a therapist or attending a support group meeting and Barbara went back downstairs and told them that she would prefer to go to a support group meeting.
" I'm so sorry for my behavior!" Barbara cried desperately. " If I have to I will go to a support group for gambling but please don't send me away to a mental hospital!"
"Okay," said Barbara's mother. " We will try support groups first. If we find out that you have gone gambling, however, we will send you to a treatment center for help. We love you, honey, and we want you to be well."
"I'm sorry, Sheryl, and everyone that I gambled again. I promise to not do it again. I love you all and I want you in my life."
Sheryl hugged Barbara and said, " I know that this run in with my father was not you. It was your addiction and I want to do anything I can to help you. I'm always there for you. Why don't we go online now and find the nearest GA group meeting so you can get started this week?"
Barbara and Sheryl went into Barbara's computer room and they went online to see what Gamblers
Anonymous meetings were available in their area. It was decided that they would go to a meeting the next night.
The next evening Barbara and Sheryl went to their first support group meeting. There were eight people in the room, mostly gentlemen. One of the men said to them as they entered the room,
"Who's the gambler?"
Barbara raised her hand and the gruff 87 year old man said sternly, while gesturing towards Sheryl,
" Is she your support? She needs to go to the meeting we have for supports in the next room. I'll take her there."
" Why can't she sit in the meeting with us? It's because of her that I am coming to this meeting."
"I'm sorry, but this is a closed meeting and only gamblers are allowed in our meeting. This is our policy."
Barbara wanted to hit the old man and to leave and flee the meeting, but Sheryl sensed her friend's rage and knew that she would be off to the casino and so she motioned to her friend to sit down.
"It's all right, Barb. Please keep an open mind and listen to what you hear. You will get a lot out of this, I am sure."
Sheryl and the old man named Arthur left the room and the group waited for Arthur to return. When he got back, the meeting started by a reading of the combo book, which described the problem of compulsive gambling and gave suggestions as to how to stop gambling. As soon as the group finished reading the book, Barbara expected to hear their stories of their experiences with compulsive gambling.
"Well, we are all sick f.....s here!" began one of the gentlemen.
"Speak for yourself, man!" cried another whose name was Tom. " When I was gambling, I didn't give a flying f...k about my family... I told a friend that if he wanted to, he could screw my wife , because I didn't want her!"
Barbara could not believe what she was hearing. Was this really supposed to be a support group meeting for compulsive gambling?
One of the other women who was in the room shared,
"There are a couple of people in the program whom I do not like and would like to shoot!"
Suddenly a man named Casey piped up and said, " We are one big happy family and we are so calm cool and collected! Even though there are a couple of people who push my buttons, I still am the most positive person here!"
Oh, boy, thought Barbara! What does all this have to do with compulsive gambling? They are nut cases. Do I really need this? Since she promised Sheryl that she would stay for the whole meeting, she clinched her teeth and bore it. Suddenly, a tall black gentleman entered the room, even though he was half an hour late.
"Oh, am I late?"
"No, you are stupid!" one of the members shouted at him.
"Why are you looking at me funny? You gave me a resentment because you are looking at me funny so I'm leaving!" The man turned around and left the room.
"Are you stupid or something?" someone else called after him.
Barbara was getting more and more discouraged and she was fighting her impulse to leave with all that she could. Finally, it was her turn to share, but Barbara declined.
Suddenly Casey asked her, " Why aren't you sharing?"
"I don't really feel like talking tonight."
"You don't follow instructions well, do you darling?" After he said this he walked over to Barbara and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
" You don't kiss well, do you darling?" snapped Barbara who was rapidly losing her temper. She couldn't believe that Sheryl left her to her own devices in this nut room. She just couldn't handle it anymore. Casey's kissing her was the last straw. She hoped he did not have Aids or anything, because his kiss was watery. She left the room ignoring the voices inside telling her to come back.
Barbara waited for Sheryl to get out of her meeting. When she walked out the door, Barbara called out to Sheryl,
"Hey, I'm out here!"
"How did your meeting go?" asked Sheryl excitedly. " Was it helpful?"
" Far from it!" complained Barbara. " All those people in there are nuts! I would be better off doing individual therapy!"
" Barb, this was only your first meeting. You've got to keep going. This is a good program for you!"
"Sheryl, do you want me to keep gambling? I will if you keep forcing me to come here!"
"Barb, if you want to continue our friendship, you must keep coming to these meetings. I want you to stop gambling. My parents won't let me see you if you continue to gamble and you and your friendship mean a lot to me. I also want you to be safe and if you continue your gambling you're going to ruin your life."
"Sheryl, I think you're the best friend in the world, but if you think that you can tell me how to live my life and which meetings to go to, you are out of your mind. I will never go back to these meetings as long as I live."
Barbara and Sheryl rode back to Barbara's apartment in silence. Barbara got out of the car and stormed off to her apartment. She locked herself in so that Sheryl could not follow her. She went upstairs and turned on her television. She put in her favorite video of all time " It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" and watched it until she fell asleep.