Alton Pierre Marquis, II

Part 3 -- Things Get Crazy

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About the first or second weekend of October Alton did what he'd been doing for most of the previous couple of months, i.e., he spent about half the week working nonstop (I assume he was on speed but it might have been something else, maybe cocaine?), then he'd either sleep for half the week or he'd disappear to Club Houston, the gay bath house in Midtown Houston.

That Sunday morning I got up resolved that some stuff HAD to change, no matter what Alton thought. First and foremost, I needed to get rid of the idiot retaining wall and the stupid posts. I spent the entire morning disassembling the retaining wall (the bricks were just piled on top of each other), putting it in a configuration more to MY liking.

That afternoon he came home and I told him, "Ya know, the posts are gonna have to come down. There's not anyway that the Homeowner's Association is going to approve them, and besides, I don't like the idea. It's not what I want." Then I pointed out the retaining wall, and he hit the roof.

"You can't communicate!" he screamed at me.

And I replied:

"Alton, I'm going to see a movie with a friend. We can talk about this tomorrow."

The next evening when I got home from work he immediately started in on me. I told him that he was fired. That I had only ever sought a roommate as a way to help make end's meet. That over the course of the previous five months I'd given him $10,000 in cash, took out a $17,000 car loan so that he would have something to drive, accumulated roughly $20,000 worth of credit card debt that I hadn't had previously, trying to make ends meet and paying for his never ending stream of incomplete projects. That the bathroom had never been completed. That there were holes in walls all over the house from projects he had started and not completed. That I was in hot water with the neighborhood association because of his cockamamie plans for the front yard.

"It's over, Alton. You're fired. I don't want you to renovate my house. I don't want you to touch a thing. I'll figure it out. I don't care if you leave tomorrow or next week or a month from now but eventually you're going to have to go. I want you out of my life."

He went outside to sulk and I sat down in the family room, popping in a DVD of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

An hour later he burst through the patio door, directly behind where I was sitting, yelling at the top of his lungs, "You want me out of your life, I'll take myself out of your life." With wide-eyed horror I saw that he was brandishing a carpet knife, with which swear to God, right there in front of me he slit both his wrists.

"No, no," I yelled, "this can't be happening, you can't do this!"

I grabbed my cellphone and ran outside to call 911.

The ambulance and police were there in about 10 minutes. I wasn't willing to go back in the house. I've been through a lot of crap in my life, especially the emotional and verbal abuse, but thanks to whatever Gods there are in the universe I've never had to experience physical violence, not anything beyond playground punches and hairpulling in grade school.

I was shaking like a leaf.

The ambulance showed up, so did the police, I told them what was going on, they took him off to the nearest hospital. In the meantime, I called a locksmith and had the locks changed. I figured Alton would be in the hospital for at least 24 hours but I wasn't taking any chances and I didn't trust him as far as I could throw him. If could cut himself, I reasoned, he could cut me or my other roommate Don just as easily.

As it turns out, however, Memorial Southwest Hospital had phased out its in patient psych unit several months earlier and even though (according to my friend Calvin, a charge nurse who is supposed to keep up with these things) federal regulations say you MUST keep someone who has shown intent and means under a 24 hour suicide watch, they let him go. Less than six hours after the ambulance had carted him away, Alton was back banging on my door.

I called the police, he called the police.

HPD came out a second time, this time telling me over and over again that because Alton had a signed written agreement saying that he could live there that there was nothing that THEY could do and that if he decided to break down the door to get in it was within his right's to do so.

I pointed out, over and over and over again, that he'd just slit his wrists in front of me in my family room just hours earlier and that he'd been carted off to the hospital, that I was absolutely not willing under any circumstances to spend any time under the same roof with him.

They sent him away, finally, for a "cooling off" period.

That morning I went to see an attorney, Trey Yates, to find out what my options were. He pointed out that this sort of situation is all too common, especially for people who have recently lost a spouse, and he gave me an outline of the kinds of things we would need to do, including filing eviction notices in JP's court, breach of contract in County Court, etc.

"The main thing is they (the HPD) can't FORCE you to let him back in the house," Yates said, "so don't let him."

I went to Burger King and started calling friends and family. I'm sure my fellow diners were wondering what in the hell was wrong with me, since I was bawling my eyes out the whole time. The sense of betrayal, which had been building and building since summer, broke over me like the waters from a collapsed dam.

I have never felt so low in all my life, even when Jeremy died. Jeremy's loss was no one's fault, except perhaps God's. Neither of us nor anyone else that we loved decided that he should die. It wasn't the result of an accident or a mistake or neglect. It just happened.

But this was betrayal, pure and simple, and a betrayal I knew was coming down the path. I'd seen the warning signs all along the way, and I was never, until the very last, willing to do anything about it. Could anyone have been more stupid?

Twelve hours later, Alton was back. Again, I wouldn't let him in. Again, he and I both called the cops. Again, they wanted to argue me into letting him in. This time the lead cop, a good 6'3" tall and 275 lbs., was unwilling to come into the house because he was afraid of Saki, my 30 lb. Prozac princess purebred. So I paced up and down the sidewalk arguing with the police and then finally looked up to see Alton tiptoeing across the front lawn and in the front door.

"Well, there's nothing we can do about it," they said, with a certain amount of relief.

So with nothing more than my wallet, my cell phone, and the clothes on my back, I got into my car and drove away.

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