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Now I was staying out late, sometimes all night, wearing the same suit back to the job the next day, a sure sign of trouble for a guy who cared so much about clothes. But I just kept signing those cab vouchers. And bouncing personal checks. With my account overdrawn, I ended up stealing a check from a coworker, forging and cashing it. I had $500, just like that.
This would all come out in the wash. At the end of July 1986, Richard Jackson called me in to tell me he had decided to let me go. He said he didn't think the business was for me. In fact, he fired me. But he wouldn't accuse me of anything until later.
When I got home that day, my mother knew something was wrong. She had already asked me a few times if I was doing drugs. I had lied my way around it, always denying it. I couldn't open up, even to the person I loved more than anyone else in the world.
My aunt and a cousin were visiting. I told my mother that I wasn't at RMJ anymore. I told her I had resigned, that I had come to a mutual agreement with my boss. My mother had trouble believing me. She asked for the phone number at RMJ. She knew something was wrong. But I was able to calm her down before I left the house for a while.
When I came back later that day I found my mother crying at the kitchen table. "I just got a call from Coach Mass," she said. "You got fired, didn't you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You got fired," she said. "You're on cocaine, aren't you?"
Again: "What are you talking about?"
But I couldn't hide it. As soon as Richard Jackson let me go, Coach Mass and Coach Donlon knew the truth. I have no idea who called whom, but bad news travels fast, and this was bad news spreading to all the people who ever cared about me. But it didn't stop me from partying all night at the Palladium, my hangout in the city.
I came home the next afternoon, Saturday, Aug. 2, and I found Coach Donlon sitting with my mother in the living room. He said, "Sit down. You're in big trouble, young man. I think you need help. I think you need to go into rehab."