Posted: September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized



“You want another shot with a chaser Chill.”

“Sure Joe, that sounds great.”

“Just be careful to monitor yourself. Your world just changed, and I don’t want booze to cloud your mind.”

Here I am sitting at the Giltmont Chateau bar, dejected, bummed out, and wondering why the universe is such a cruel place. Just a few hours ago my world view was completely different. I loved my beach bum reality. I loved being rich with no cares in the world. I loved the fact that women loved me in droves. I loved my E30 BMW M3. I loved my Newport Beach House overlooking heaven on earth. That was my world just a few hours ago.

The world surrounding me now is a dismal, pathetic, morose, surreal, kaleidoscopic dystopia. In the blink of an eye, everything stopped making sense.  Bad news is always disruptive and disconcerting. It upsets the apple cart and unleashes chaotic change. Why can’t change edge into existence? Why does it hurl itself into people’s lives like an undisciplined whirlwind? Why can’t catastrophic change have soft edges?  Why is change unruly, dark and menacing? Just yesterday, just a few hours ago my love of the beach was my passion … and now this!

“Hey Chill, you got a phone call. It’s Monica. She wants to know how it came out.”

Joe is a great guy. He’s always friendly, the women love him, and he is a master mixologist. I’m not one to explore the hidden world of mystery cocktails. Instead, I love shots of Añejo tequila, no lime, no salt — with a Corona chaser.

“Chill, it’s Monica. Are you still with me? She sounds anxious.”

Honestly, I can’t handle Monica right now. She’ll rant about something I did wrong, why I was born rich and how it’s made me a non-sensitive jerk.  I need to be alone right now.

“Tell her I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’ve gotta ease into it Joe. I’ve gotta get my mind around what just happened.”

Joe nods and puts the phone up to his ear.

“Monica, he’s on his way home now. He’ll talk to you when he gets there … yeah good talking to you too. Next time I see you, I’ll make you one of my new drinks made with specialty mint. I call it the Giltmore Cathouse. You’ll love it … okay, see you then.”


My name is Carlton Radcliff, but my friends call me Chill. For some reason, I rarely, if ever, get upset. I don’t know why I’m so relaxed about life. Everyone around me seems to lose it when things get rough. Some get rattled more than others, but very few people never get rattled. I’m one of the few people that maintains a cool demeanor at all times. Hence, the nick-name Chill. Think Marvel comics superhero. I’m the superhero with “Chill” as my superhero weapon. That was my motto of life until today.


I made it back home after a few more shots. I was dismal. I wanted sympathy or a dark corner to hide from life as it passed over me for a few days, weeks, years … honestly, I didn’t care. I heard the phone ring in the other room.

“Hey Chill, it’s for you. It’s Billy Motown.”

“Yeah, tell him I’ll be there in a minute.”

It was my friend Billy “Motown”, or Motown for short. Billy loved Motown music, hence his name. His real name was William Harrington III. He came from a rich English aristocratic lineage that lost its political clout in the Great Depression. That didn’t stop them one iota because they had a built-in DNA gene for making money, lots of money.  His father was a classically handsome Brooks Brother lawyer who handled tech IPO’s for Goldman Sachs and a few other big underwriting firms out of New York. He was filthy rich. His weakness was young women and lost weekends.

His mom was a famous model when she was younger, but now just plays tennis all day at a fancy private country club.  Her greatest asset is an uncanny ability to ignore her husband’s nefarious social deviations. She understood the downside of becoming a cougar divorcee. Instead of risking any downside, she chose to remain a well-kept woman, working with charitable foundations and tossing money at haute couture retail outlets.

Motown received a huge monthly allowance from his dad, which kept him loving his parents and visiting every Thanksgiving. That’s all they asked and he was more than happy to oblige. Their family maxim was “Why make waves when the going is good!”

A small group of us grew up together and called ourselves “The Beach Bums”. We even had a T-Shirt line for a while in college and made enough money to fund our beer runs and short surfing trips down the California coast.  Motown would understand my predicament and help me get past it. I needed to get past it. I needed a fellow Beach Bum to pull me out of the fire.  I picked up the phone.

“Hey dude, what’s up? Great to hear from you. I haven’t heard from you since Cayucos. You won’t believe what I have to tell you ….”

“No dude, you won’t believe what I have to tell you. Chill, I have some bad news. Zombie is dead.”

“What … what happened? I just talked to him last week. He was going to Maui with some hottie he just met …”

I couldn’t see straight for a few moments after I heard the news.

Zombie was a workaholic. He was a straight-A student with a photographic memory and an Einsteinium brain filled with obtuse knowledge. His critical thinking skills were off the chart. He got a full-ride scholarship to Harvard’s business school, and instead of becoming the CEO of a billion dollar tech company, he decided to make his fortune in brokering tax based finance schemes. His out-of-the-box financial models fueled a new era of corporate hyper-growth by creating new methods of leveraged financing. Instead of a company taking out expensive loans and lines of credits from banks, a corporation could use its own cash flow that was typically held in sinking funds to pay taxes and use them to finance growth initiatives with the tax dollars they never had to pay. Taxes are hard cash. Not paying them is the cheapest form of money a business can get, if they know how. Zombie knew how. He hired expensive lawyers to ensure he got a piece of the action, and by the time he was 28-years old was listed as one of the richest men in America. Then for reasons unknown except by the Oracle of Delphi, he stopped playing the game and became a fun loving beach bum again. We loved having him back in the game, and he loved playing first string. He had it all.

“A drunk driver hit his Harley head-on. Zombie and his new girlfriend died instantly.”

Motown could hardly get the words out.

“He was going to get married in Maui next month and was going to surprise us with an all expense paid, 10-day wedding vacation at the Four Seasons. You should have seen the woman his was going to marry … dude … she was a 10+ in looks and brains, and was independently wealthy with a killer beach bum attitude. I’m telling you, the ocean waves knelt in tranquil serenity when she was around.”


The bad-news stars aligned perfectly over the next few months. After the news of Zombie, I broke up with Monica. I couldn’t take it anymore. She needled me about everything, but mostly about getting married. Finally I told her she had to leave. She was so pissed, she decided to take a trip to France and hook-up with every man in the country. At least that is what she told me she was doing. Then the phone rang.

“Chill, this is Monica. Look I got some bad news. I guess I lost my sensibilities in France. Some guy offered me some heroin, I took it, and got hooked.

“Go to rehab and you’ll be back to normal in no time.”

“Chill, my addition is not the bad news… I’m HIV positive.”

When Monica arrived back in the States, evidently she began hooking up with skid row heroin addicts and sleazy drug dealers. Monica  wasn’t rich. That was my problem with her. She saw me as her ride to financial 1%-er glory. It wasn’t going to happen. Granted, she was the classic beach babe, long blonde hair, blue eyes, killer body and beachy-attitude, but she didn’t have enough class. She came from a common blue-collar family. I couldn’t see myself living life with a girl from a blue-collar family, I just couldn’t. After she contacted HIV she was devastated. She wanted to get back with me and start all over. She told me she would shake her addiction, clean up, and get the medical attention to control her HIV. I told her that I loved her, but I could not be there for her. I needed time to sort things out for myself. Monica died a few months later from a heroin overdose.


The dead zone is weird to me. Life shutters its doors as ordinary things become bleak and gruesome. My head was clouded all the time now. Everything turned gray. Sounds became muffled. Happiness scampered off to some deserted island, as gloom perched itself on my window sill chirping non-stop about perdition and murky endings.

I grew up privileged and moderately rich. I knew I lived in a gated community. Instead of apologizing for it, I embraced it. I didn’t mingle with people outside of my social class. Why should I? Every time they came into my world, they wanted me to apologize for what I was. I had to hear endless tirades about social and economic inequality, the brutality of  have and  have-nots. I ignored anyone not in my social class, and felt better for it.

My world continues to fly off its rails, in fact, the dimness is accelerating. My sense of proportion is evaporating. I am getting angry. I want time to move backward, not forward. I want to be on top of the world again. I loved privilege. A slow death is a sentence for the poor, not for the rich. The “have-nots” see agonizing death as an equalizing force. Their pompous attitude is unfair and their only advantage over us. Recently, I’ve come to resent them, to resent karma.

The phone rang again.

“It’s your doctor. You haven’t been in to see me.You can’t avoid this thing. It’s a killer, but there are ways to extend your life.”

I have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is progressive degeneration of the motor neurons that inevitably leads to death .. my death .. an agonizing death. I don’t want this disease. There are thousands — no millions of people who could have ALS and no one would care. My life is more significant than theirs. I understood when Zombie died. I understood when Monica died.  What I can’t understand is why I have to die at such a young age. It just doesn’t make sense.

The only question I have is … WHY ME?


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