Twenty-one Beers with Irene

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Twenty-one Beers with Irene is a recounting of my day as I awaited the arrival of Hurricane Irene. The story is true. I hope you enjoy the reading.

Submitted: July 24, 2012

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Submitted: July 24, 2012

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Twenty-One Beers with Irene

A Short Story by

Lee Malone




The hurricane had been lead-story news for over a week before she decided to finally harass the East Coast of the United States, bringing wind, rain and to all the local news crews, many hours of overtime pay. From the Florida Keys to the rocky coast of Maine, the entire Eastern Seaboard was anxiously awaiting "the storm of a life-time" to make land-fall. I wasn’t any different, although I had highly unusual and uniquely different reasons for my anxiety. I had made a pact with my reflection in the mirror, to take advantage of the impending downpour to thoroughly bathe myself; go out there as the tropical tempest blew, and lather myself from head to toe, removing a week‘s worth of accumulated sweat and man-stink.
I was cheering for Irene like the most avid American sports fan at the Final Four or the Little League World Series. Oh! How I revel in Nature's fury. Giveth unto me a thunderstorm, a good high-F tornado, 8+ earthquake, tsunami or blizzard. Call me crazy, but I love it when Nature wins. Sure, I am human, and am touched to hear of the loss of life, but, these events happen every day. Somewhere in the world, the Earth fights back on a daily basis. We just keep the blinders on, so to speak, until some catastrophe happens to us. Then and only then, do we freak out, hit every open store for water, bread, batteries, diapers and tampons and all the other essentials to stave off complete and certain disaster. There’s always the obligatory run on specialized items. Last winter, with it’s record snowfall here in New England, the run was on 'roof-rakes'. Our Miss Irene brought about a run on electric generators.
I hit the stores, too, by Jove. Yes, indeed. I marched out to the grocery, alright. I went into the aisle that no other person would be in: the hygiene aisle, for shampoo, soap and deodorant. I was going to take a Hurricane Shower and there was nothing that was going to stop me. Not now. I had made a commitment to this endeavor completely, a vow. Hours of arduous and extensive contemplation went into this commitment. Tough questions had to be answered: Do I have an ‘air’ about me? Am I offensive? Have I grown used to my own aromatic display to even know? When would the next hurricane chance by, availing of itself, allowing me to bring myself oh so closer to godliness? No! I’m going for it! This will be good and right for mind, body and soul.
My next stop was the liquor store. I would need my fair share of 'liquid encouragement' from somewhere. I usually fulfilled my craziest stunts while under the influence of the dreaded alcohol, though I couldn't decide on the proper distillate. I initially thought I should laboriously create tropical elixirs, such as Pina Coladas or Margaritas, in an homage to the hurricane’s equatorial origins, but, rational thought, at times, prevails, and I realized that the power could be cut off, and there would be in no way to make them properly. I couldn’t suffer the painful indignity, to have to swallow down a half-assed beverage, especially one I’d have to prepare myself. I had swore off the demon whiskey after a bourbon incident several years ago, and gin wasn't calling out to me at all. Neither wine nor vodka. It seemed that hard booze wasn’t going to be on the drink menu, at least, not this time.
I knew that I would be up all night awaiting the deluge required to cleanse properly. A slow release beverage would take time to inebriate, so I opted for beer. I have a long and storied history with this beverage. We go back several hundreds, even thousands of cans together. I know it and it knows me. We pull no punches with each other. I don’t expect much of it, it, even less of me, and we like it that way. You don’t mess with success. You should never break up a championship team. I knew I had three cans in the 'fridge' back at the studio, so I picked up a cold eighteen pack of Coors Banquets and also several bags of ice, thinking I may be there for a while, and I had better be prepared for the worst. I figured the storm would amount to not much more than a rain event at worst, and if twenty-one beers were not enough to see me through Irene’s fury, there was always the bottle of vodka in my desk for just such an emergency.
I returned to the studio, turned on the television, and switched channels to a local station. Our local weather-folk were going on the air full-time, hard core, straight up to the grand finale, or until they all publicly cracked up in front of the cameras. I like to try to pick out which one will get the giggles first. I usually pick out a woman, not because of sexism or anything toward that end, it just seems a safe bet and I am not a gambler of any extreme. Go with the odds and hope for the best. I am always amused by the intrepid reporters bravely standing along the Sound, in the face of the on-rushing storm. They are our sentinels in the gloom, tirelessly giving up to the minute reports on whether or not it has started to rain and how torrential it is when it is, all the while reminding us to stay inside, for it is dangerous and treacherous out there and we should venture out only if absolutely necessary. Do they get hazardous duty pay for that? And why does it seem that they always send the oldest, most decrepid reporter on these tasks? Or else, it's the most petite, cutest-as-a-button-est reporter sent out to risk her pretty little self at the hands of a hundred-mile-an-hour monster. I’ll admit, I do like watching the girlies blown across the picture by monumental gusts, though. Sexy!
I sat down at my crowded desk in Hilliard Mill, then nonchalantly cracked open the first beer. Within moments, it was gone and tossed into the recycling can. I knew this was going to be the case, that’s why I had brought another, that I opened post-haste. After a few slurps, I began to write. I could hear thunder rolling off in the distance, but, as yet, saw no flashes of lightning. I viewed this as a good sign. The weather-folk were starting to say horrible things like 'the hurricane is losing speed as it made landfall somewhere in New Jersey' and that it 'was showing signs of weakening'. Aghast, I got up, grabbed my beer and made straight for the front door so to assess the situation for myself. I opened the front door and walked out onto Hilliard Street under a light rain. The wind was sporadic at this time and the gray sky was full of fast moving, low hanging clouds. There was certainly some kind of disturbance in the atmosphere, so I crossed my fingers hoping that a torrent was on it's way. I finished the beer I had while standing on the double-yellow lines in the middle of the street, so I headed back into the now vacated, still building. Entering the studio, I chucked beer two into the recycling can and grabbed two more. They really ought to make standard beer cans larger, and by the very least, eight to ten fluid ounces, for I believe, where my thirst is concerned, it simply cannot be satisfied by a mere twelve fluid ounces.
It wasn’t long into that fateful evening, when suddenly I realized that I had been stacking empty can upon empty can on top of my desk, and just getting up to either get more beer or shuffling off to the restroom for urgent relief for my bloating bladder. This is a most dangerous operation for me. I have to get up from writing, knee-deep in the thoughts that I am trying to put to paper, only to lose the train of thought as I proceed down the hallway and into the john. Most disturbing is the realization that I have done serious damage to my brain after years of rough-housing, horse-play and multiple concussions. Thinking is hard work! Focus is difficult to maintain! Relieved, I found my way back to the studio where I cleared off the empties, only to begin a new stack with beer eleven. After what had seemed like twenty minutes, but, in reality may have been hours, but, probably just the twenty minutes, the stack of empty cans again had grown to block my view of the television. I was straining my neck to see over them, so I decided to clear them away yet again. There was no doubt that I was feeling pretty good, a tad tipsy, if you will. But I soldiered on, popped open beer sixteen, and raised a toast to Irene with a hearty yell. I stood looking out of the large industrial windows at the now steadily falling rain, but determining that, as yet, there still wasn't enough of a downpour to shower completely in. I returned to my desk, empty in hand, and stacked it in it's proper place.
Soon, there was excitement coming from the television, as one reporter checked in to announce the rains had started to come down harder. Yes! This is what I was waiting for. I was assured by the weather-folk that, within an hour or so, I’d be fulfilling my ambition for this storm. I was getting giddily like a toddler at Christmas. I grabbed beer nineteen and anxiously sipped and waited for just the right moment to strip down with my shower goods in hand, and make for the yellow lines dividing Hilliard Street north and south. Oh, boy! This was going to be great!
This would not be the first time that I have showered in a storm. I had often showered in the midst of raging thunderstorms, lightning flashing brilliantly and the rain coming down by the bucketsful. There is a definite thrill to it. Dangerous, indeed. But, as I see it, showering in storms is no more twisted than sky-diving or bungee-jumping. And it's not like I do this every single time there is a storm a-brewin'. There has to be inspiration involved. That, and unreasonable amounts of alcohol. Perhaps I have an as yet unidentified fetish involving thunder and lightning. I enjoy standing out when a thunderstorm rolls in, and watch the rain, wind and lightning. Even as a boy, I’d stand in the window or door, only to hear my mother yell at me to move away or be struck and killed.
Then, suddenly, I heard the sound of the rain beating upon the roof of the building with a greater intensity. I gulped down beer twenty and gathered my things. Shampoo. Soap. Bandana. I was going for it. I staggered my way to the front door, stripped down to my birthday suit and strutted out to the middle of the street. The rain was warm as was the blustery tropical wind kicked up by Irene. It felt good and I was soon lathering, rinsing and repeating through a thorough shampooing. The rain fell so hard that it was hard to bring up a full lather, but I managed to scrub myself to total and complete cleanliness. Irene blew with a fury at times, there were occasional roars of thunder and flashes of lightning, but I was enjoying this outing too much to bring such worry into the picture. I was too into the moment. I was feeling the satisfaction one feels when one fulfills a promise one makes to one’s self. I didn’t let me down. I was my own champion on this day.
Not a single automobile drove past as I finished rinsing off. My fellow Connecticutians must have heeded our dedicated news-folk, and hunkered down, or they were soundly asleep, expecting devastation when they woke. I headed back into the foyer. I picked up my towel and dried myself off as I looked out the door with a wry smile on my face. I put my clothes back on and went back to the studio, laughing as I walked. I entered the studio, tossed out the empty beer can, then opened beer number twenty-one. I sat down at my desk, looked up towards the television, then shut it off.
The task was done now. Irene had done her job for me and I could now revel in the fact that I had done something that, I am fairly certain, no one else in Connecticut had done that early morning. For some, this storm would bring hardship and strife, and I, too, lost power for the better part of three days afterward. Little did that weigh on my mind. I was clean.


© Copyright 2017 Lee Malone. All rights reserved.

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