An excerpt from my memoir, “Southern Fried Fiction”

Try to imagine a promising, forty-five-year-old executive suing a Fortune 100 company with a flimsy-at-best claim of fraudulent inducement. You’ll have to read my memoir, Southern Fried Fiction, to get the full back story, but this excerpt should provide some insight into my state of mind at the time.

“The journey from filing suit in November 2000 to jury selection on a Monday in May 2002 was exceedingly nerve-racking. Over this year-and-a-half-long period, I suffered mood swings like never before. The night after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, I walked down from my apartment to the West Side Highway and along the unprotected footpath that paralleled this always-busy six-lane thoroughfare. I stared into oncoming traffic, trying to imagine if I’d experience any pain by taking two steps to my right. The slightest imbalance on my part could have ended the lawsuit.

I must have made that same five-minute walk at least a half dozen times during the pretrial period. Each outing occurred during the evening, when it was either twilight or dark and nearly impossible to judge the speed of oncoming traffic. I was setting myself up for tragedy. Sometimes I ran across the full six lanes—as well as the raised median barrier— just to see if I was faster than a speeding bullet. It wasn’t exactly Russian roulette, but it was both certifiably manic and potentially lethal.

What had happened to me? Why couldn’t I hack the role of plaintiff? If this game—and it was a game, I now realize—was too hard to play, then why didn’t I pick up the phone and call Julian to suggest we stop? Why couldn’t I confess my suicidal ideations to Linda. She was my wife, for Pete’s sake! Of course I know why, at least now. I was sick in the head—depressed, mentally ill, emotionally unstable, whatever you want to call it—and, as such, I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t tell right from wrong, and I most certainly couldn’t share my feelings of utter despair with anyone. Honestly, how could I talk about something I couldn’t label? I was truly stuck in my own world, my own universe. I was thoroughly obsessed listening to my own alternative station called “Radio Stuart.” That sole stream of information was no more fair and balanced than what Fox News disseminates today.”

Stuart Hotchkiss
August 5, 2015

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