Not Unpredictable

I Need a Drink

Ron couldn't get away from Max's and that newspaper article fast enough. Drinking to forget does not guarantee tragedy. On the other hand, it's not unpredictable that drinking could make a bad situation worse.

Ron's lovely, happy, caring wife, Jan, had suffered three years with breast cancer. Yesterday he buried her and fell off the wagon. They'd had no kids. The few friends who lasted through the ordeal were available only intermittently. Ron felt he owed them nothing, certainly not his staying sober.

He drove straight from the cemetery to Jack's R Wild. In a dark corner where he could ignore the bar banter and be ignored, he ordered a draught with a Canadian Club chaser. After the third boilermaker the memory of Jan's last few days in her wasted, pain-wracked body began to have less impact on his emotions. Memories swirled. The one that took root was of Jan crying over a kitten she took in. It was so starved it could not recover. Now Ron cried. He wanted a fourth boilermaker. Since the last thirty years with frugal Jan, his accounting position, and some smart investing left him with half a million dollars easily accessed by his Visa card, he bought the fourth, then another.

Sometime among his next few drinks, he lost track. It didn't matter. All that mattered was that familiar warmth that embraced him like an old friend.

The next thing he remembered was waking up this morning in his bed all too alone. His head hurt. He wanted coffee. He didn't bother changing the clothes he left on from the night before. He wanted to get out of his newly empty house. He thought he'd head to Max's coffee shop.

On the way to his car, he noticed a dent in the passenger-side bumper. "Damn," he groaned. "I hit another telephone pole." The first pole mishap had caused Jan to extract a promise of not drinking, a promise he kept for thirty years.

He drove to Max's. There he ordered a coffee and picked up the newspaper. He read the story of a young mother on "girls' night out." She left Roberto's at 2:05 AM. As she tried to cross the road to get to her friend's car, she was severely injured by a hit and run. She was not expected to walk again. She remembered being hit by a mid-size maroon car.

He thought, "My God, my car could be called maroon. Roberto's is on my way home. I need a drink."

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Comments 2 comments

atienza profile image

atienza 6 years ago from Northern California

I know this is fiction, but why in the world didn't the bartender see how wasted he was and get him a cab? Anyway, well told and point made.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US Author

hi, atienza,

my dad used to drink a case of beer every night. the bartender never prevented him from driving home. i guess he looked more sober than he was. if the number of drinking and driving deaths is any indication, many bartenders miss the signs.

thanks for weighing in and thanks for the compliment.

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