A Short Story (of a long night on the town)
A Short Story (Of a long night on the town)
He lived inside a big, amber bottle. It had been his home since he’d left his home, and he couldn’t think of a place he’d rather be. Perhaps an upgrade: Napoleon Brandy; an exotic home. And though his tenancy was humble, he still found the small streak of vanity within him to indulge in a tropical cruise through the smooth seas of a fat jug Rum, once in a moonlight eve. But he always remained a faithful tenant to the P’s and Q’s that kindly lorded over him.
Past the bubbles and through the glass he could always spot one man. The man with a cloth in hand. And with that cloth he’d clean the glass that held our friends drink of choice; the hair of the dog that bit him. The man who cleaned the glass was a sprout man of great rotundity who -if not profound- was certainly profane. His favorite phrase to issue forth on the men who chanced to pass: “If what I got don’t make you happy, then you ain’t sad enough to drink.” And those who dared retort, would kindly be told to “fuck off.” And off they would fuck, straight out the swinging doors of a vintage bar in a nineteen-twenties town. Home of dime drinks and penny poker. But let us not forget our friend. On especially saucy occasions, he would order up a glass of whiskey. And it is not so much the drink that is worth noting, but the way in which he orders it. From within the breast pocket of his chaplin attire, he would issue forth a sleek, silver lighter. Flicking the lighter open, he would strike flint against the sole his shoe, stumble about a bit, and swim through the bubbly into his baggy, tattered pocket. Sometimes he would be gone for days on end; according to him. And inside his pocket, he would pass the strangest things, causing the most incredulous reminiscences (did he really have a family somewhere?). It was at times like these when he felt most like Humphrey Bogart; on the case and completely in control of his mental faculties.
Time flies like a man in a mid-life crisis when your searching for your last nickle. He continued to search the crevices until Jefferson reared his four-fatherly figure; almighty… and slightly corroded. This humongous engraving, standing as tall as three drunks and one wine-o, had become the responsibility of our friend, who escorted the author of independence out the way he had come. Time then returned to normal as the light broke through the end of the tunnel, bronzed by the booze the rays were destined to swim through; harassed by the man who feared natural light.
Climbing out of his pocket, he unlaced his shoes, and strapped the nickle to his back, making a valiant attempt to break over the even horizon of a week old pint. And then came the difficult part. The masterpiece chapter omitted from Moby Dick in which our friend sailed the silver-back nickle across the bubbly brine, and heaved his vessel across the threshold of the unknown, onto the counter-top of ignominy, though he preferred to think of it as a bar-top. Then, in his biggest, brashest voice, he would holler to the rotund master of malts, “I’ve returned from a great adventure with a story to tell! Perhaps you will indulge me in a shameless vice so that I may speak freely and in good company!” However, beyond a certain level of inebriation, these words are quite difficult to tie together with quite so much elegance. In which case he would yell, “Whiskey! You’d never understand!” and on the occasions when he did tell the story, the latter statement remained correct.
And so he would dive into the shot glass, and back stroke to his hearts content: the warm liquid pulsing through his stomach. This was a trip to town. A nice change of pace from the country-side kegs and coolers. And being a passive man, he had no need to worry about what the men about town called “angry liquor syndrom.” all he had on his mind was what was in his stomach, and how to accumulate more. But within the town of whiskey, one is never alone. And sometimes, passive is liable to meet aggressive.
Swimming about the tides of bourbon love drifted the body of one mean inebriate, who had traded much of his buoyancy for booze. He was a brawny man with a broken nose; probably worked out in the oil-fields. Who knows? He did, that’s who. And he didn’t like it. And as a result, he drank to what some would call “excess” and would proceed to boil with rage. Why is it that the common disease of alcoholism should afflict the ones most dangerous to be infected by it? The virus seems to create a Parkinson’s effect in the joints of the arms, which is most effective in the large arms of the working man, whose brain has given up on trying to control it’s muscles long ago. Either way, this man came round swinging. But not without reason. For everything has reason, but most reasons would be hard pressed to describe themselves as “good”. Any-who, the reason behind this man’s action, was the song our friend was singing, which happened to be “I’ve grown accustomed to my bourbon”.
As it happens, this bully found that song to be particularly disagreeable. For what reasons? Well, had I sought further inquiry on that subject, I may not be here to tell the story today. Either way, the story ends like this: one man dead, one in prison, and one caught inside a bottle. And now, let the story unravel.
As he was about to delve into his other pocket in the vain hope of finding one last nickle, our friend found himself being dragged under water and in the grasp of a very large antagonist who, by now, we have become familiar with, though we do not know what child-hood experience had led to such bad spirits. Meanwhile, the great round purveyor was clearing out the newcomers and crying out “last call”. Our innocent friend had no idea what offence he had committed, but was determined to get down to the bottom of it so that he could continue uninterrupted his search for yet another elusive dead founding father. None of this concerned the heart of the enraged, and he screamed at the little tramp in his great hand. But all our friend heard was “Wah, wah, wah.” Which was quite a shame because had he heard what the large man said, he could have promised to stop singing, and pointed him in the direction of someone much more offensive and worthy of a good pounding. Instead, he smiled, and offered his hand to make the man’s acquaintance; an ill-fated attempt which took a turn for the worst.
His face was soon contorted into what many would call “mangled” and his glass had fallen onto the floor. From his drunken stupor, the bar had come sharply into focus for the first time in years, and the first thing he came into hard contact with was the floor. Needless to say, he missed his bottle. So he excused himself, and tried to hobble toward the door, but found himself unnecessarily blocked by the mad man’s figure.
The mad man reeled back his fist, and swung forward, sending him back to the floor, and searching earnestly for what he had done wrong. In fact, he had thought about it so hard that he scarcely noticed the thrashing the mean man was giving him until it was interrupted by the bartender and his baseball bat.
It was unbelievable, and made the tramp rub at his head. It had been a while since he had seen two people beat on each other so unmercifully. He needed a drink, and did not hesitate to help himself to the stocked and vacant bar. A pint or two would do. And while sipping down on what he considered to be God’s miracle elixir, he noticed an empty beer bottle on the bar top, and he was hit with an epiphany.
He hobbled over to the scene of the dispute, and introduced the bottle to the horrendous Huguenots head, which sent him lumbering to the ground; his body ceasing all movement. The heroic bartender checked the man’s pulse, looked that the tramp, and shook his head hopelessly. At which point the tramp handed the bartender the remains of the bottle, bid him adieu, and walked out the doors, diving into the bottle he had left on the street corner. One dead, one back in a bottle, and a bartender who was soon convicted of manslaughter. A tragedy, really. Our poor inebriate would have to find a new bar until further notice. But for now, let this be a lesson that man must not be aware of simply his own actions, but the actions of those who swing the bigger club, for they will show no mercy. This is a terrible ending that I will change later.
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