The Diary of Bridgette M., Part 3

by Trey Nosrac

Series introduction is here.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.


Today, I touched a horse, a filly. I was so nervous my hands were shaking. The name of the filly is Sweet Carlina. It’s not Carolina because there is no letter “O” on the wooden nameplate above her stall door. Like me, Carlina has a tattoo on her neck, but the filly was smart enough to get inked up with a number under her mane and not stupid enough to have the words Regret Nothing on her knuckles like me. Rhonda said the horses also have chips under their skin.

Rhonda told me to stand close to the horse’s side, stay away from the back or front, and move slowly and quietly. Then she said to give the horse a few strokes on her back and suggested I stroke her cheek and mumble a few sweet nothings before clipping a leather strap to the halter.

I knew what was next from watching all week. My job was to lead Sweet Carlina out of her stall and reclip her to a pair of chains dangling in the wide walkway between the stalls. There is another set of these two chains that people call crossties. Crossties keep the horse in place so people can do other stuff to the horse and work around the horse.

So far, no problem. It was like taking a gigantic dog on a five-step walk. Then, it was back to the shovel and the wheelbarrow to clean Carlina’s place while she was away pulling the cart.

I felt good doing this. I have problems remembering the names of all the boots, buckles, and Velcro straps Rhonda attaches.


Today, I noticed something about horses. When Rhonda takes horses in and out of the stalls, they are gentle and calm. They are relaxed. Whenever I try this simple task, the horse is nervous. I believe the horse understands that I am afraid and senses my nervousness, which makes me more anxious.

People with an addiction are not necessarily more stupid than the rest of society; what we do is ridiculous, but I consider myself intelligent when not buzzed. These horses get dressed daily in buckles, belts, bandages, clip-ons, snaps, hoops, boots, braces, and Velcro. Grooms put this stuff all over these animals, INCLUDING INSIDE of mouths filled with teeth the size of dominoes and tongues the size of LeBron James’ tennis shoes, not to mention the average horses here come with feet the size of pie pans and rear ends the size of wheelbarrows.

The other grooms automatically slap this stuff onto horses without seeming to pay attention. When Rhonda slowly walks me through dressing a horse, which she has done about five times, I’m okay. But the minute I am alone, I panic, my mind gets jumbled, and I do not remember what goes where. These damn horses are valuable. I’m terrified that I will make a mistake. Plus, I feel so stupid!

So, this means that now I’m not only afraid of the horses, but that I might have horse equipment dyslexia or amnesia, or my brain has been fried by you know what.


Two days ago, a skank at the dinner table whispered she had a delivery scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The price was a C for a K-packet of dust, no needle. I signed the deal by scratching the side of my nose.

Anyone reading this who does not have a substance use disorder will wonder why I would give her the okay sign, why risk the safety of this place, the job working with horses, and the chance at recovery. The answer is simple. Our want overpowers our why. Nothing tops our needs, not love, logic, fear of death, ego, or shame. We have to have it; you will never understand if you aren’t in our shoes.

Being in this treatment center makes my usual degrading money-making or begging a bit more complicated, but I was working on it when the word came down that the deal was dead.

Here is the K-pack story as I heard it. The skank’s mother showed up in the lobby with a birthday cake for her daughter’s 22 birthday. The staff stretched the rules, summoned the daughter to the hall, cut the cake, and looked into the grocery bag with a can of unopened Ready Whip that would serve as frosting for the cake. Also, inside the grocery bag were sealed packets of plastic forks and paper plates.

One of the staff handed the grocery bag back to the mother and said the center would supply real forks and plates. The daughter got agitated and said she did not want to bother the kitchen with dishes, a total red flag because this chick is a hard case not known for consideration of others. One of the staff members gets suspicious and looks at the paper plates in the sealed plastic, so the staff member opens the bundle of paper plates, and 50 K-packs are in the hollowed-out center.

The birthday girl is on her way to do real-time, and there are no drugs for me today. Back to the horse farm tomorrow morning. I have mixed feelings about this bullet whizzing past my head. Could this be a good sign?


Well, today was interesting at the horse training place.

I was minding my own business, cleaning stalls and water buckets, when the head trainer, Ted, the guy with his arm in a sling who met the van on the first day was there. He’s the guy I later learned oversees about 70 horses and a dozen employees. Today, Ted’s sling was gone, and he had a rubber sleeve on his elbow. He stuck his head into the stall and asked if I had a few minutes. I said he was the boss, and I was used to being fired.

Ted laughed and said he was here to do the opposite. He gathered the three trainees/patients/addicts at the end of a barn and told us that two grooms who worked in barn three were no longer working. He did not say if they quit or got fired, but we will probably find out later. Anyway, Ted needs workers. He asked if we would be willing to work a full day if he talked to the rehab center. He said he would pay us $10 an hour on top of our current arrangement, but everything depended on whether we were willing and if the rehab center would agree.

One of the girls asked him if we would still need daily drug testing, and he said yes. I asked him if this meant working away from the farm. He said no. It’s been a long time since I have been in demand, so I nodded yes, and so did the other two.

Ted said he would make a few calls and see what he could do.


The shit hit the fan this afternoon. Richard Fleck, from the rehab office, called us to his office to tell me the company denied the request from the horse trainer for us to work extra hours at the horse training center. Fleck blathered on about insurance coverage contracts and punctuated his stupidity by saying they were a treatment center, not an employment center.

Sherry and Donna just shrugged.

I erupted with one of my epic rants, magnificent obscenities, and began by calling Fleck a pencil-necked geek, hardly breathing and possibly spitting. I went off on everything from the staff to the federal government, food, and local government. My grand finale was, this isn’t a f—king prison, nobody tells me what to do, I’m walking out and try to stop me MFer.

Fleck had 10 years of running a rehab facility under his belt, so he was used to poor behavior. He barely flinched. When I ran out of gas and deranged shouting, he recommended I take a walk, think carefully, and return to his office in an hour.

I took his advice.

One hour later, I knocked on Fleck’s door. I apologized. And I meant every word. He was right. I was wrong. Fleck is not responsible. Nobody is responsible but me. People are trying to help. I make it difficult.

Fleck, bless his pencil-necked heart, waived off my apology. He acted as if I nudged his shopping cart in the check-out line at Safeway instead of having my irrational insults screamed in his face.

People are good. Me, not so much.

Then I began to cry, a big, sloppy, gulping cry. Finally, I blubbered out that the horse work was good for me, one of the better things that had happened to me since I became an addict, and working with the horses might help.

Fleck pushed a box of tissues across his desk. He was quiet as I tried to pull myself together. After my final nose-blowing, he leaned back in his chair and said he would see what he could do.