DARCCI Diaries: A True Tale of Recovery

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash
They call it the rehab capital of the world: Delray Beach. Because, we built this city! We built it off the Roxies and Suboxies... we built this city. We built it off the coke and the molly. We built this city. We built it on acid dreams.

Have you ever seen a dope fiend shaking? Shaking in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming. Have you ever had night terrors? Have you been frozen in your sleep, stuck in space, forced to face your demons? Take a walk with me.

Take a walk through the land of the lost. Take a walk where fruit withers and rots. Take a walk with me through your nightmares and taste a bitter fruit called Love. Pluck it from the stalk of Hope and remember... a long, long time ago. Take a walk with me. Take a walk with me through the doors of DARCCI.


Inside the asylum known as DARCCI--Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Clinic for the Criminally Insane--we sleep 8 to a room, sometimes 9. Bunk-beds are built into each wall and 2 small tables sit below each window. At the foot of the room divider lies an iron rack with drawers built into the bottom. This medieval torture device passes as an extra bed; a thin sponge acts as a mattress--a prison mattress. To lay on this torture rack is to feel 20-30 unforgiving iron rods plowing into your backbone, contorting your spine in every direction. God have mercy on the broken body forced to sleep in this “bed.”

A guy called Guy hands me a pillow and a set of blankets. “Have a good night,” he says.

Across the room, in the bottom bunk is an Indigo Child. His name is Nik. Nik is a pretty dope dude and resembles a short Kid Cudi. His voice is quiet and strong. Thanks to the state of Florida, he’s being forced to rehabilitate himself for smoking a blunt in a public park.

On our walk across the parking lot, into the cafeteria, we talk about Chance the Rapper, Raury, and the art of meditation. Inside the cafeteria, he teaches me the system of trading trays. Main course meat is worth $2, side course veggies are worth $1. Using these metrics, he helps me trade food and craft a full course vegetarian meal.

Today’s menu: a dry disk between a pair of crusty buns--called a “chicken sandwich”--brown rice, and a cup of purple stuff.

I give Nik the mystery sandwich in exchange for his brown rice and a bag of chips.

Once inside the main room of the facility, the Day Room, I pass rows of beat up, broken, busted cushion, black chairs and head into Trish’s office. Her desk is littered with inpatient papers, her window is plastered with colorful pictures inpatients have drawn for her. She spins her black office chair 180 degrees to greet me. “Welcome to the men’s treatment facility at DARCCI. Anything you need, feel free to ask me or your orientation leader.” She motions to Guy.

Trish is a veteran crackhead. Her eyes are big, brown, bright, sunken in, and accented with heavy black eyeliner. Her hair is a wonderful shade of blond, brown, and grey. The wrinkles in her face match the veins in her hands; they tell a story of lifelong hardworking drug decay. Yet, through all the abuse her body has suffered, it has held up well. Age and wisdom have made her stride strong and true. When she speaks of her drug use and the process of recovery, you can feel the electricity rushing. She is the leader of this cult. She is Jim Jones. A.A. N.A. and C.A. are her Kool-Aid.

I ask if it would be possible for her to get me approved for vegetarian trays.

“Well, I’m sorry honey, but here at DARCCI we just can’t do that. We are a nonprofit and no one makes any money. And sweetie believe me, when we were out there on the streets we were not taking care of our bodies. It’s all about the 12 steps sweetheart. We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable; came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity! And made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood him.” She rapidly rattled in her Bible Belt accent.

She bows her head and lifts her right hand, “Do you understand what I’m sayin’?”

I blink once, pause a beat, and ask, “What if my vegetarianism is for my religion?”

“Well honey, I don’t know about YOUR God, but I know MY God, the one true God is my light and my salvation and he pulled me from the clutches of crack cocaine. Now, we’ve had Muslims, Buddhists, and all kinds of religions come in here and complete this program. What you can do is trade your food and get what you need, but we can’t help you.” She smiles wrinkled dimples.

Next to Trish’s office, on the opposite wall, the building turns into one long white hall lined with doors to inpatients’ rooms, an open, doorless, bathroom, and, at the very end, a laundry room. The orderlies are stationed at a desk in the middle of the day room.

In the long white hall, lined up for daily medication, Guy greets me with a crazed expression, “Welcome to the Mad House!”
Photo by Steven Pahel on Unsplash
It has been a week since I slipped into madness. My descent into madness is conic. My death spiral. Day after day, new faces arrive. Old faces are gone and forgotten.

Welcome to the asylum. Welcome to the Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Clinic for the Criminally Insane. Welcome to DARCCI.

Many inpatients endure night-terrors. Each night, I suffer my own nightmares. Sometimes, they appear backwards.

sworg ecamirg hcaE
.reddam dna
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
My hunger pains have ceased and I have mastered the system of trade. The weekdays are good. We have 3 meals a day, each complete with mashed potatoes or steamed veggies for which I can trade. The weekends are long and harsh. We are fed pizza and potato chips, burgers and fries, and spaghetti with a small salad. For breakfast, I have only an orange or an apple. During rec, I do pushups, pullups, situps followed by silent meditation. I must keep my mind strong. 

I walk the long white hall on a daily loop: morning gratefuls, breakfast, A.A., lunch, N.A., dinner, C.A., evening gratefuls, writing, sleep. I feel a thousand eyes burning into me. Stating straw-man goals morning and night, repeating redundant reasons why I’m grateful, sitting in monotonous meetings quickly becomes draining.

My black FIU hoodie keeps me safe. I wear the hood tight over my head.

The peer monitoring system presents an ever-watchful eye. Everyone watches everyone. Inpatients snitch on inpatients. Madness revels in madness.

Frankie Fuckin Fingers (aptly named for the bleeding lesions on his fingers) is the gollum of the group. Cigarettes are his golden ring.

Before A.A., Frankie Fuckin Fingers presents me with a paper requiring my signature. He has reported me for wearing my hoodie. He and the asylum are out to get me. “We have behaviors we don’t like. We sees us.” He hisses.

He has one tooth. His rotted gums, crooked posture, gnarled knuckles, bleeding elbows crusted with dead skin, and pock-marked face give him a live-action resemblance to Smeagle. His drug of choice: heroin.

He presents his signed write-up to the class. They applaud him. I put my head down at my table, still hidden beneath my hoodie. I can feel the eyes of addicts leering at me. Rebelling against the program is frowned upon. While here, I am determined to distance myself by any means necessary.
Photo by Eric Weber on Unsplash
Inside the classroom, we have a new instructor. His name is Dr. Kirk. He began his career in upstate New York. His start? A private practice doing therapy sessions for members of the Mafia. That’s about all I can tell ya.


Ahmeed is from Iran. The sun rises in the East. Light reigns in, it reflects off the olive skin of his bald head. The man is well versed in naturalistic life and licensed to grow mushrooms. His drug of choice? Coke, heroin, crack, molly, pills [red, yellow, blue, pink, purple], acid, shrooms, you name it, he’s done it. When he speaks about God, Allah, and Buddah his smile widens and his amber-brown eyes glisten. “72 virgins, that is propaganda,” he says, “When you die, there is a long road that you must cross, into the afterlife. If the road is white then your life was pure and your heart was good. You cross the bridge into Heaven. But, if in life you did bad then your road will be full of black holes. Once you fall you are placed back into this world to suffer the pains of life until you correct your existence. This is the cycle of Heaven, Hell, and Rebirth.” His accent is thick, hinting at mysticism.

Listening, I realize he is expounding on what Tibetian Buddhists have always known as Samsara. Until we achieve Enlightenment, we cannot experience Nirvana.

Ahmeed has crafted a pipe-bomb. It’s concealed in a paper-towel roll.
He stuffs it in the lining of his grey jacket and calmly proceeds to the front of the Day Room, the sun room. As the sun shifts from behind a cloud, a long black shadow is cast in front of him. He looks left toward the sun, calmly states, “Good afternoon,” takes a breath, and says, “for years I have been planning this day.”
A harsh hush falls over the room. Hearts stop. The second hand on the clock ticks. Tock.

“Ha-Laaaa-la-la-la-la-la-la!!!!” Ahmeed screams.

He pulls the pin.

The bomb cracks open.

A set of color pencils and art utensils fall on the floor.
Clatter, clash, clink, clang.

Somewhere to the far right of the room, “...pad that drawing. You can create shading. Press and push, press and push. Pad your shading to get depth in your shadows,” drawls Ken the cowboy, an old Blackfoot Native. His drug of choice? Alcohol. He’s an artist working on a sketch. Ken, The Wise Old Wolf, gave Ahmeed the pencils as a gift.

Today’s date is September 11. Ahmeed is now walking the white hall. A black t-shirt is wrapped around his face like a turban. Whispers of ISIS slither from room to room. He has painted the perfect portrait of frenzy amongst the criminally insane.

Ahmeed is going to kill us all with awareness.
Photo by Peter Scherbatykh on Unsplash
I dream of linear regression.

.enil eht woleb ro ,evoba ,no eil lliw stniop lla dna enil a etaerc stniop ranalp ehT .egnaraaer ,alumrof ruoy teser ,X ruoy dniF .reiltuo eht gnitceles dna ,nrettap gnirrucer a gnidnif ,pam a no stniop gnittolp fo aedi ehT

.ekoj htaed a s’tI ?ti teG .ottehg eht ni pu werg I esuaceb diAlooK eht knirD .eciuj eht hguorht klaw ew sa stod eht tcennoc dna wolloF .noisserger raenil ym gnidaer er’uoy ,woN .enalp a no stniop tsuj ”.stneve“ dellac stod detcennoc ylesool fo seires a neeb syawla sah efil yM

Too often, dreams are forgotten. To remember, I watch the chess board. I have to remember; sometimes, my dreams are prophetic.




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Robert Vickens

Robert Vickens

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