Sean Wesley went into the snack room to help himself to coffee and a roll. He’d probably gain weight while he was here without his personal trainer and weight room. He’d been a fat kid—always the last to be chosen for games, and stuck in right field when he did play. He’d been saved from a life of obesity by a growth spurt in his late teens, a judge who gave him a choice between jail and the Marines, and switching addictions from food to booze and then cocaine.
By rights, Sean shouldn’t be at a VA facility. Celebrities like him usually got sober at places like the Betty Ford clinic or Hazelden. Actually, he’d come from Betty Ford, but he’d still felt shaky so his manager, Don Nelson, had done his homework. Danville, Illinois, was in the middle of nowhere. The program was different, based on Rational Emotive Therapy, and Sean was a veteran. While he made too much money to be treated at the VA, there’s money and then there’s money. Sean had money—the kind that opens doors and breaks down barriers. The kind that makes even the Federal Government say, “We’ll see what we can do,” and then do it.
So here he was in the middle of a cornfield in bum-fuck Illinois at a shabby old VA hospital. An enormously obese woman came into the snack room interrupting his reverie, and Sean thought, That could’ve been me. What a shame—she’s so pretty.”
* * * *
Kristen noticed the table of goodies and the drop-dead-gorgeous man perusing them in the break room when she went in there to put her lunch in the refrigerator.
“Want one? I heard they send ’em over every morning. I guess they’re yesterday’s leftovers.”
That’s right. Offer sweets to the fat lady. She managed a tight grimace. “Thanks, but I’m here because I’m a food addict.” She held up her orange.
“I’m Sean.” He prob’ly wouldn’t give a fat chick like me a second look in anywhere else. Still, what is it about men with black hair and blue eyes that makes me go all mushy?
“I’ve heard of food addicts, but what makes ya call yourself that?”
“When my kids were little, I left them without a babysitter while I went to the store and wrote a rubber check for ice cream and M&Ms. I’d say I’ve been about as desperate for my fix as any addict or alcoholic.”
“Wow! Yeah, I guess so.” He held the door for her as they exited and then followed her into the Day Room.
Kristen sat on a love seat, taking up the whole thing, while Sean sat in the chair on the other side of the end table next to her. They were the only two people in there since there were classes going on. She was sure the minute other people came out he’d find someone else to talk to. She pulled out her crocheting. She was fairly certain Eric would propose to Viki at Christmas and had already begun work on a tablecloth for them. She worked on it a minute and then decided to be polite. “So, what’s your drug of choice?”
“Cocaine. I’ve been clean a coupla months, but it’s hard ta stay clean.”
“I’ve heard that. I was at a halfway house fundraiser and they said it takes something like over a year for cocaine to completely leave the body, and during that time a person can still have random cravings. They were raising money for an extended treatment program.”
“That explains why I’ve been having such a hard time. I hope this treatment helps.”
People started coming into the Day Room from classrooms just down the hallways. Several of them gave Sean and Kristen curious looks. Yeah, what’s a great looking guy doing sitting with a fat chick?