The House for Recovering Souls

What happens when you make the wrong decisions at the wrong times

By Brian Doyle | March 15, 2013


The day being suddenly sunny, the halfway house for Recovering Souls on the north side of the city is offering car washes, and I pull in, and get to talking to a quiet man, and I think you should hear what he has to say.

It’s the usual story, he says. What you would expect. Damaged childhood, damaged manhood, hit bottom, lost everything, trying to build a life again. The usual. No different from lots of people. Lost my son—that’s the worst. Might never see the boy again. His mother moved away with him, and I don’t know where. But I have to go real slow here. I read, pray, do pushups, fix stuff around the place. Lot to be said for fixing things when you don’t know how else to use your time. There’s always stuff to be fixed, and that’s a positive. You’d be surprised how there’s always stuff to fix or clean. Religion helps because it’s communal. But—total respect for Jesus—I have to save me, I think. I think that’s the way it works. Maybe the way you try to save yourself is what people are trying to say when they say Jesus.

People always overpay at the car wash, yes. You could hand us a buck and that would be fine, but they hand you a 20 and say something gentle. I think people know they could be me right quick. Or could have been me, but they made the right decision at the right time. Or could still be me, right quick. And people see we are trying. One lady saw the clothesline with all our towels with our numbers on them and she couldn’t stop crying. The worst is not seeing your kids. That’s the worst. Your girlfriend or wife chooses you or unchooses you, you know, but the kids just lose you. You lost your kid. That doesn’t go away, no. You carry that all the time. I write my boy letters. I bet I have a hundred of them up in my room. Don’t know where to send them, yet. Someday maybe. Your car’s ready. Thanks for coming by, man. Appreciate it.

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