Pots of Gold

Rainbows.

The beams from God’s benevolent eye watching us over, the visiting Chaplain would say. I used to sit outside after the rain and wait for them, when they stood out the most. After the rain, when the colours of their parabola fronted low hanging greys and the last mist of droplets, and they didn’t taper off to nothing in the air like they did when it was clear.

When I asked the Chaplain what he meant, and how come God’s eye-beams were shaped that way, he said I asked too many questions and that the paradise God had provided us was there to be enjoyed, not scrutinised. He said that my faith would be easier if I learnt how to accept the Lord’s guidance without question, and submit to his higher power like the 12 Steps were asking of me.

As well-meaning as he was, I’d made a pact before coming here that I’d follow the program, but no way was I turning to the sky for help. God and me, we parted ways way back in primary school. Even alcoholics and addicts have integrity on some things, and there was integrity enough in this place that I wasn’t alone.

The Chaplain was proven wrong by a big margin in the end. The rainbows that fell nearest the rehab started falling all the time, and with them they brought a parade of characters that our eyes could barely register at first for how strange they were. They weren’t much like the tales we were told and they were a long way from Ireland, but so it goes with real life in most cases. The first difference was the size. Giants, they were, so massive we initially fancied them trolls, but the open pots of gold and their overtly jocund attitudes made clear what their nature was. Weirder was the appropriations they’d made from previous visits elsewhere. I’d never met a more dedicated group of Justin Bieber fans in all my life. Each of them had a size 15XL t-shirt specially made with Bieber’s head on the front, which they’d worn so much you could see their green hair poking through rips and holes on their chest.

Me and the boys that found them hesitated telling management for a while. None of us had much issue with weed, but the whole point of the community out here was full abstinence from everything while we tried to build better habits, and our new Bieber-loving friends had so much kush with them they could’ve gotten the entire Navy high.

When they tried selling us some in exchange for prints of Bieber’s latest stadium tour to decorate their mobile homes with, I decided enough was enough. The younger guys were close to caving and I could tell by the smell that it’d take a week before their eyes looked right again if they tried any.

The fellas didn’t object and the next day I told management everything I knew. This sounded a lot more straightforward in my head than it turned out to be. See, part and parcel of rehab facilities is the comorbidity of mental health issues with the main addiction. Most residents took some kind of medication in addition to the therapies we partook in. So when a senior resident knocks on the door and proceeds to explain the appearance of giant leprechauns in Bieber t-shirts trying to sell top-grade marijuana, it’s possible to see the reasoning of Occam’s Razor take place right there on the manager’s face in front of you. Especially with Kim, who was super chill, but also nice enough to suppress her laugh before getting too carried away. I figured it best just to show her.

She followed me along the line of pine trees to the back of the oval where the barbed-wire fenceline began and when we got there her disbelief turned to annoyance after realising how serious I was. We had become friends since I got there, and she wasn’t fond of someone in the program’s later stages suddenly having hallucinations. I liked how much she cared, even though she saw so many leave. Now I just wished I could show her there was nothing to worry about except for the giant leprechauns that were trying to sell us drugs.

The leprechauns weren’t in their usual spot though, and when I looked around the back of the sheds I couldn’t see them in the paddocks either. There was however a rainbow in the clear, and after some convincing Kim followed me over the fence and we walked side by side and I made her smile by telling a lame joke that I’d made up that morning.

The scene we walked into was in many ways stranger than the one I had described to her. The way the leprechauns explained it later was that shrinking themselves was sometimes necessary when their position had been compromised, and one of them had been shrewd enough to see I intended to tell management about them. They were absolutely tiny and neither of us could hear them without getting on our knees with our ears to the ground. One aspect still the same was the smell, and when the wind changed Kim looked at me in a way that said Holy shit more clearly than I’ve ever heard it spoken.

After pleasantries had passed and Kim could see how good natured they were in spite of the threat posed to our recovery routines, we let them be and she pulled me aside and we had a deliberation, which was a big thing for me as it had been a long time since I’d had much say in something of consequence to anyone besides myself. She said it best we kept this between us and the other guys and didn’t let the owners know as they were far too conservative to understand.

She told me to head back to the fence so she could speak to the leprechauns alone and she was there for a while before she came over. We both lent against the wire and watched as the base of the rainbow started to brighten before it pulled upward into the sky, and I figured Kim must have said something that convinced them to find customers somewhere else.

He body language was more upbeat on the way back. Whenever I looked over she gave me a smile, but it was more like the exaggerated smile of a proud mother than the usual friendly smile I was familiar with. When we approached the building she grabbed my hand and made me stop walking. She looked up with tears in her eyes and told me that this was the day that she finally knew I was going to be okay. That the past was behind me now. All I needed to do was keep walking forward, and never forget that even the friendliest faces become dangerous when offering a step back.

I gave her a big hug and thanked her for caring so much. After she went up the steps I turned and saw a rainbow in the valley between the trees, just before it faded away as the sunlight came.

***

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