“Maybe just one more” he thought to himself sitting at the bar. The dust and smoke of the place filled the entire room making it hard to breathe. The barkeeper was a fat old woman. She appeared to be in her sixties and sour as hell if it were not for a subtle sweetness about her. “Want another darling?” asked the kind old woman. “Yes please, but could you make it ditch, and a double as well?” he asked. The woman made her way down to the other end of the bar and pulled out a double shot glass, filled it with ice and set it on the bar. She reached down to the very bottom of the bar and pulled out a small bottle of Glenlivet and poured. The two ounces she was supposed to give him looked more like three and she spilled a small amount bringing it over.
He sat there listening to the crowd. All of the small talk of gossip and rumors flying throughout the air provided some semblance of comfort. He simply stared in his drink thinking of the hell waiting for him at home. She wanted to see him before she left, as if to salt the already bleeding and stinging wound. Sitting at home, his soon to be divorced wife and children waited for him to return. He was done with all of it, all of the pain and the despair. The old barkeeper counted out his total and gave him the change. He noticed just how happy everyone around him seemed. It disgusted him terribly, making him feel as if he were a lesser man for carrying his pain into the bar.
Does he go home? Argue and fight with her? Or is she a lost cause? He asked for a bottle of scotch to go, making sure to tell the waitress to grab the larger bottle. She packaged the bottle in a brown paper bag and handed it over the counter to him. The weight of the bottle heavy in his hands gave him some semblance of happiness. He stepped out into the warm June air. The wind was calm and the town was in its usual swing. People were going on with their lives all around him, walking and driving here and there. In some strange way, the world seemed to be slowed today as if nobody was in any hurry to be anywhere. It was only half a day to match his new half-life. Gathering his strength for the fight to come he started down the street to his house, knowing what was waiting for him there when he arrived.
The steps leading up to his apartment were rather old and screamed noises of his presence throughout the building. His wife would without a doubt, know he was home. He walked into the apartment and sat the bottle on the counter. “Oh that’s nice” she said with a tone that said she wanted to fight. “Sarah, if you are going to go, then just go. I don’t fucking care anymore” he replied sternly. She was clearly a little offended by the remark as she went back to packing. He opened his bottle and sat with his kids while his wife rummaged through the house scaring the children more than necessary. “You know I love you right?” he asked his kids fighting tears. “No matter what happens, I will always be here for you, I promise” he said nearly choking on the words.
He walked out to the living room where she was packing her things still. “Are you going to let me see them still?” he asked. “Some things will need to change Nathan” she replied in a harsh manner. “You are a drunk and I am not sure you are healthy for the kids.” He sat there letting that absorb a minute. She wasn’t wrong, but was it truly necessary to rip the kids right out of our picture we painted? There had to be a more gentle way to go about this for the sake of the kids. “You are a selfish bitch” he said in a harsh tone. She just sort of sat there staring at him for a minute at a loss for words. “You think this is best for the fucking kids do you? Ripping them away from everything they know without explaining?” He asked angrily. “Mark my words someday they will hate you for this, and they would be right to do so” he said.
There was suddenly a honk outside the apartment. No doubt it was her father coming to pick her up and take her home. She grabbed the kids tearing them away from their father. She left her poor father to move her furniture himself, so he helped the man. He helped this man move his wife out. They were all packed and the kids were strapped into their seats in the back of the truck. “I love you guys, be good for your mom and I will see you again soon” he told them as the door slammed shut in his face. He held his hand flat against the truck window and his son’s small palm was pressed against the other side. It was time to say goodbye. With that he turned from his children, fighting back the worst anguish he had ever felt in his life. Walking up the stairs to his apartment he began to tear himself apart from the inside, blaming himself for what had just happened. He walked into the small bedroom that used to be his son’s and started to drink. He drank with the intention of never waking that night. From that point on, nothing would be the same, and all he had been, the shallow, hollow husk of a home without a family was all that was left to him.
“Mom” he said over the phone. “Sarah left last night, I’m not really sure what to do anymore and I think this is a forever kind of thing.” He told his mother. “Well why would she leave? What reason was there?” She asked her son. “It just wasn’t working I guess, not really sure why as of yet.” He lied, knowing that he could not tell her he was a drunk. She would think ill of him, or worse, hate him for it. There was an awkward silence on the phone that seemed to last forever. “Well it just is what it is then” His mother replied. He was satisfied by this answer however he was also a little disappointed. His entire life just crumbled all around him, the love of his life had left him and he was alone. He said goodbye to his mother and started to get ready for his day as usual.
He stepped into the shower and turned it on. The cold feeling of the water on his body made his sick and hung over body tremble as he waited for the water to warm. Normally the house would be filled with the sound of his family running about, getting ready for their day as usual. But today there was nothing, nothing at all. Sarah would get the kids dressed and we would walk them down the street to daycare for the day. Then we would say goodbye and head our own ways to work. But today was not the same, today he would attempt the very same thing he attempted the night before. Only this time he would do it right.
He stepped into the bedroom to get dressed only to find where he had gotten sick the night before. “It seems that this is why it didn’t work” he thought to himself as he cleaned the mess from the floor. Reaching into his closet he pulled one of his fine Sunday shirts from the rack. He found the first decent pair of jeans from the floor and threw on his sandals. No coffee or breakfast for him this morning, he was to sick for that. Stepping down the stairs to the street still slightly drunk from the night before that is when he saw her. “Drunk again Nate?” hissed the landlord in a nasty tone. “So long as my rent is paid and I don’t make too much noise I can be as drunk as I want” he said with a smirk. “Son, you may need some help, I heard about Sarah and I feel for you. But even with the rent paid, you can’t just be drunk all the time” she said. “I am having the worst fucking week of my life and I paid you, leave me the fuck alone woman” he snapped, clearly showing his headache was far too big to be dealing with yet another drama. “Fine Nathan, have a good day” she relied shortly and went on her way.
Walking down the street he saw many parents taking their children to school. He noticed some of Aiden and Brenna’s classmates and couldn’t help but feel the cut that was still there from the day before. He was nearly to the bar when he noticed they were still closed. “Shit” he thought to himself. “I just want a fucking drink” he said aloud for all to hear. “At least I didn’t eat, that will save me some money on drink today” he though as he fingered through the money in his billfold. He was nearly broke and pay-day wasn’t for another week. The little old lady was bustling about inside the bar, getting the stools down and wiping the counters as usual. He was usually here for what he liked to call coffee before work. There were a few men in town that just loved their morning coffee covers and he was no exception. The door clicked with the sound of it unlocking. “Well you are still here” she said with a warm smile. “I heard what happened and I really don’t think you’ll find answers here Nate” she warned him. “Maybe you need to call the bishop at the church?” she suggested offering him a free cup of coffee. “You know it’s funny Stacy, I’ve been coming here for coffee for two years now and this is the first time I actually had coffee” he said almost with a half-smile. “Nate, sweetheart, I can’t serve drink to a broken heart” she said in a caring tone. “Go home and make all of this right” she said, and with that she went on to attend to other things around the bar.
He got out of his seat almost offended but understanding the lecture was needed and left out the back door of the bar. He stepped outside to find the weather had turned and it was raining. The smell of rain was in the air and the chill of the drops chilled him to the bone. It is amazing, the emotional power of rain, it can turn your thoughts and warp your mind into a depressed stupor. Suddenly the images of his children playing filled his mind. He saw them crying, cursing and hating him. He stepped down the street and noticed that the liquor store had just opened. He stepped down the street fighting his tears yet again and stepped into the store. There were dozens and dozens of bottles of pain relief. “I just need something to help, it’s too much. But this is the last time so help me God” he thought to himself. He grabbed the largest bottle of cheap and dirty scotch they sold. “That will be eighteen seventy-five” said the shopkeeper staring at him wondering why the hell he needed that much booze at eight in the morning. He said nothing to her besides thanking her.
He walked out of the door to see that the rain had become worse; it was a downpour at this point so he started in a fast walk down the street. He scrambled to get home and start drinking the scotch he had just bought. Strangely he was excited and to be drunk again. He was happy and looking forward to it in a way that really cannot be described. He stepped into his home, grabbed a glass and started to drink what he thought was his medicine. He got his journal out and started writing. Strafing between the pages of Ernest Hemingway and the bleeding of his own emotions on paper he began to decompress his feelings. Drunken words spilled onto the pages alleviating only the most topical of pain. He sat there until he blacked out, leaving reality to find a place that had no pain for a few hours. When he came back to reality he found that almost a quarter of a gallon had disappeared and he was sick. He didn’t want to move, he would rather drink more. He poured another trying with all of his might to die by the bottle. He let cheap scotch and Hemingway take him on a drunken journey through the snows of Kilimanjaro as he slipped from reality yet again.
Two weeks later he was getting ready in a hurry. His mother was bringing the kids to stay for two weeks with him. He scrambled to clean the house that had so obviously started to become a bachelor’s household. He was hung over as usual but this time, he seemed happier. She pulled up into the parking lot and he rushed down the stairs to meet her. He opened the door and there they were, his son and daughter. His son smiled and ran to him as if he hadn’t seen him in a year. His daughter was taken from the car-seat and handed to him. His mother hugged him and visited for a few minutes. “Are you doing alright?” she asked, she was clearly concerned about her son. “I’m fine mother” he said reassuringly. The visit did not last long; it was hard for her to see her son so very sick. It was clear what was wrong with him, he was dying. He took his son and daughter upstairs to the apartment where they found all of their toys and bedding exactly as they had left it. “Just like home kids” he said to them as they ran into their room to play. He walked to the kitchen to make himself a drink and revel in the bliss of having good drink and good family. There were few things he cared for more than those children and he was so very thankful to his family for bringing them to him. Truly happiness had found him again at last.