Friday, October 17, 2008

The Drinker

He was moaning and feeling like shit when she came in his bedroom.
“I can’t believe you’re still in bed.”
“What time is it?” he asked.
“A.M. or P.M.?”
He looked up. “Then good Christ let me sleep.”
She walked over to his window. “Were you up all night?”
“Doing what?”
“Scotch mostly.”
Then she stood in front of the curtain. The curtain was brown and heavy to keep out all of the light. He had previously had a sheet tacked up on the wall, but she made him take it down.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Getting some light in here.”
She opened the window. Light flooded the room and you could see dust particles swirling about.
“Goddamned!” he shouted, sitting upright. “Are you trying to kill me?”
“Sunlight won’t kill you,” she said. “Have you had anything in your stomach today.”
“I thought that was last night?”
“It was this morning as well.”
“You got out of bed to pour another scotch?”
He looked at her like she was alien. “No, it was left over on the nightstand.” He held up the empty glass for her to see.
“Well, can I get you anything now?”
“Yes. Another scotch and a pair of sunglasses to block out that damned sunlight.”
She looked down at him. “I’m not fixing you a drink until you have something to eat.”
“What’s the use?” he said. “I won’t remember the meal.”
“But you need something.”
He thought a moment. “Fine. I’ll have toast with a side of scotch.”
“How about toast and orange juice.”
“Yes. I haven’t had a vodka and orange juice in months.”
“Just plain orange juice.”
She went to make the toast and get the orange juice. When she came back with his meal the blinds were closed again.
“So we’re done with sunlight for the time being?” she asked.
“Yes. If I could I would put up aluminum foil on the windows.”
“Elvis did that.”
She handed him his food then sat down on the bed next to him. She watched as he ate his toast and drank his orange juice.
“Was that good?” she asked.
“You want that drink?”
She went back into the kitchen and got the scotch bottle and an extra glass. When she came back into the bedroom he was propped up and waiting, with his glass in hand.
She poured them both a decent sized one, and then got back on the bed.
He drank.
“I really missed you last night,” she said. “Did you miss me?”
“But you know why I left, right?”
“Of course,” he said. “I’m not a child. I just act like one from time to time.”
“No. You get drunk and violent.”
“How are you?” he asked. She showed him her wrist. It was already turning black and blue. He winced when he saw it. “Christ.”
“It’ll be okay,” she said.
“It was an accident.”
“I know. But if I hadn’t tried to stop you, you would’ve broken every window in the place. I’m actually surprised you didn’t.”
“A few beer mugs bit the dust.”
“I saw that.”
Then they had more of their scotch. When he was done, she poured him another.
“What am I going to do with you?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Maybe I shouldn’t come over when you’re having nights like that.”
“But I never know when I will, until I do.”
“What’s really going on?”
He finished his drink and sighed. “I don’t know. I’ve been feeling washed up lately. I have no good ideas. I can’t seem to paint anymore. And the collage idea has gone to hell.”
She looked over to a corner of his room where newspapers and pornography magazines were stacked in three piles. A small amount was on the floor. Some were cut up. Leaning against the wall was a four-foot-long block of wood. It was painted white. There were images of naked women and stock quotes glued to it.
“What was the idea anyway?” she asked.
“The fallacy of commodity.”
“Seems interesting.”
“You’d think.” He finished his drink and she poured him another. “But I couldn’t do it. Like I said, I’m washed up. I’m thirty-eight and I’m done. I never even had a moment to shine. Now I just sit here and paint for shit and make other art for shit. Or I stay in bed and wait until it’s scotch and saturated fat time.”
She looked down at his belly. Their eyes met. Then he grabbed his fat and shook it.
“Do you want to go outside?” she asked.
He looked toward the window. “No. There’s nothing and no one out there.”
“There could be inspiration out there.”
“Humanity is a meat grinder.”
“Some people make great art out of feelings like that.”
He thought about that for a moment then he finished his new scotch. He held out the glass but she wouldn’t pour him another.
“Come on,” he said.
“Will you go outside with me?” she asked.
“Maybe. Tell you what. I’ll let you open that window again. Then we’ll have one more. I’ll shower and maybe we’ll go for a walk.”
Then she got up off of the bed and went to the window. She hesitated a moment but then she opened the blinds. Blue and yellow light poured into the room. He squinted when he saw it. But then she came back over to the bed and poured him another drink. He looked over at his artwork, and wondered about how good a hot shower would feel.

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