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Observations. Anyone can point to a drunk on the stoop and feel superior. Maybe a few hours in his worn out wing tips will give you pause? Not the full story, just to a stopping point.Typos be damned.

No amount of drink can kill the instinct to put ones hand out when falling headlong. I hate the damn itch that you can't scratch down deep in the skin of your palms when they have been skinned by pavement. Underneath my houndstooth slacks my hip was skinned as well, I could feel the fabric sticking to the burning sting. I didn't even bother sitting up for a moment, the gutter was cool and comfortable. Much like an empty bath tub is to a drunk I suppose. I turned my head and watched cars nearly missing my hat that had made its way to the double yellow line. I was mesmerized by the suspense of it, would the next car hit it? Would the tail wind from a  truck blow it right into the path of destruction? It was fascinating, my own little reality television.

Once up on my elbows I rested, getting up was getting harder and harder every time I had to do it. The motors inside that operated the getting up function were in need of an overhaul. Using a lamp post as my handicap rail, I was able to hoist myself up. I had to step tenderly, my hip and knee were aching deep inside the bone. My hat had been hit while I concerned myself with getting upright, damn I missed it. The hat looked like roadkill long before it got run over, this just made it official. I ran a comb through my greasy tangles and crammed it back on my head, still all bent out of shape.

I had another one of my episodes back there, pretty soon all the watering holes in the city are gonna be closed to me if I don't keep it under control. I was sitting at the bar and went blank for a second. I got up to empty the leg, and coulda swore I was talkin to an Amway salesman at the next pisser. Next thing I know the scene changed. The urinal turned into the juke box and everyone was screamin at me, there I was shakin the drips. Talk about akward moments. I don't blame em for tossin me, they had to get some kinda satisfaction for what I did. If it meant skipping me across the sidewalk then I guess thats fair, I could have made out alot worse.

I know it's the drink that does it to me, but it's all I got. My pension, along with some generosity from strangers was enough to keep me lubricated most of the time. Happy hour indeed, no two words were more literal. Tonight I was light so I stood in front of Gentleman Jim's liquor store askin for donations to my libations. That usually is good enough to get a bottle of Rose and a pack of Lucky's.

I had to shuffle along with my brown paper bag, the leg was gettin stiff now. I decided to dine alfresco on the stoop in front of my little duplex. You could see my usual spot, worn from frequent use it was a shade lighter than the rest of the step. It was a good spot for a  lean, a new york recliner if you will.

I never spent much time inside, it was full of stuff that reminded me of my late wife. Didn't have the heart to pitch it, didn't have the fortitude to look at it. It was a low rent museum that only had one patron. It was good for sleeping and bathing, neither of which I did on a regular basis. The shame I feel looking at her picture on the wall is too much sometimes. Ashamed for her to see me this way, I wasn't worthy to be in the presence of her.

We had the good life, lots of friends. All of them fell away after she passed, guess she was the glue. She held bridge night on tuedays, same as my bowling league night so I wouldn't have to put up with all the wives chattering, she always put me first. When she threw dinner parties she always made my favorite foods so I would be relaxed. She was special. I tried my best to make her time as happy as possible, one thing I was good at was being a good husband. I was devoted to her, I couldn't take that piece of me back when she passed. it belongs to her now, she had earned it 100 times over. Taking it back would be an insult to her memory.

Cops and their spotlights, bad combination to my sensitive rods and cones. I tipped my crumpled hat, keeping my bag tucked til he passed. usually this bottle would be gone in a few long pulls, tonight I wanted to nurse. All this thinking made my stomach feel like cold stone. My skin was clammy and the cold sweats were not far behind. It was best to sit this one out and get some sleep,by the time I woke up I would be right as rain.

I half heartedly tried to unbuckle my silver tipped pointy toed shoes. I was only able to get one off, ltting it land with a thud and jingle of the metal hardware. I pulled the blanket over my fully clothed body and lapsed into whats best described as oblivion.

The morning was too bright, the one ray that peeked around the side of the window shade burned like a laser directly into to my opening eye. Not a good way to wake up. The blanket was snagged on my remaining shoe, and after a minute of struglling decided to drag it with me as I limped to the bathroom. The futile attempt to take my shoe off in the tiny bathroom was like something from a Laurel and Hardy movie. Somehow it ended with me standing in my underwear with my pants leg pulled down halfwaywith the blanket coming out the other side and my shoed foot stuck in the middle. I just wanted to see the damage, sure enough I had a dark brown scab the size of a soup can lid where my hip bone stuck out. The rest of it was a dark purple fading to green bruise that went halfway down . You could see the fading grey of an old one that was healing underneath of it. I took the small pocket knife out of my back pocket and cut the leg off my pants, cut the blanket from my buckle. Seems I have done this before, probably, as much as I sleep in my shoes. Yes this was definately not deja'vu.

After finding aother pair of pants I went down for breakfast. I had an old pack of hot dogs that had dried up weeks ago, the remaining bottle of Rose and some grey poupon. Rose it is. I counted my remaining funds over breakfast, even digging the pennies out of the wierd place that lint buils up in your pocket. I had hit on some pull offs at bingo earlier this month, so I was still in the black. Good enough to get me started.

Ruby's had a so so happy hour, the name was an experiment in irony, the place was far from being a jewel. The people were nice enough, they put up with me loitering amongst their mid level cutsomer base. Maybe so people feel better about themselves, like parking your Ferari next to a Pinto. Whatever the case, I found my seat near the far end of the bar and started shelling peanuts. It was early so the floor didn't look like a sawmill yet, the sour beer smell wasnt strong yet. I was close to the john and was inconspicuos for the people walking in. I had one of those video machines blocking me from the view of others, with the happy colors and jingling music. Video games are past my time, but they kept me occupied watching the demonstrations over and over. Reading the raunchy names put on the high scores.

Soon the place was filling up, I was worried about having another episode. I stared at my plastic cup of draft beer feeling anxiety creep in. If I got tossed from here I would have to walk another 5 blocks just to wet my whistle. I was deep in thought when a burly fellow bumped my elbow trying to belly up to the bar. He gave me a queer look and held his nose"Man whino! take a bath!" and laughed loudly looking around at everyone to see who noticed his joke. My response was "id rather have a bottle in front of than a frontal lobotomy" somethin funny I heard on tv once. Not equipped with wit, he took a minute to figure out if I had insulted him or not. i guess to make sure, he lifted my hat off and sat it on the bar, taking my plastic cup and pouring the rest over my head. He politely sat my hat back on and walked away howling with laughter.

The bar tender slid me another cup and and winked,"On the house" and walked away. Whatever pride I had left was as bruised as my thigh, what could I do though the man shits bigger than me. I wallowed a little and sipped my beer, shelling peanuts but not really eating any.

 I was rich with time and was frittering my fortune away. The waitress came over to me with a look of genuine concern on her face. She was an old hack at waitressing, good at keeping the rowdies in line. She asked if I was ok, I nodded  not really looking up at her. She had the stern look of a protective mother as she walked away, eyeing me from over her shoulder as she pushed through the crowd. I was now thoroughly humiliated, but still more worried about blacking out.

An hour goes by unnoticed, Im still gazing downward. The ape from earlier sidles up to the video game machine and drops a quarter in. He's playing a game and nudging me with his elbow like im not sitting there. he was playing this game where it reveals a naked woman bit by bit. He pointed and asked the last time I saw one of those, I just shrugged and ignored him. It wouldn't have mattered what I said anyway, he just kept going on and on. Eventually he will get tired of me ignoring him and escalate things. Best thing to do is just play up to it, not like I have a need to save face.

He buys me a round and hold its over my head "what would you do for this drink? Would you lick the bar?" I nodded and licked the bartop, they wipe it down like every 5 minutes. "Ok good, now get up and do a little dance for me" I got up gingerly, my leg was still on fire and did a little shuffle step. "Good boy!" he drank the drink and walked off laughing. I took this as a good time to move on, it wasn't worth the free handful of peanuts.

On my way out I was tripped, falling back onto my already sore palms and wounded hip. I cried out despite my resolve not to give them the satisfaction. People laughed, I had a deer in headlights moment not sure where to crawl away to hide. The waitress lifted me by my arm and looked me over. She was speaking to me but I couldn't hear any sounds. I went blank for an instant.

My darling Doris was standing there looking at me, I held her and wept hard. It was thurday I think, and it was meatloaf night. She hugged me back hard as can be, and laid me down so gently. She told me everything was gonna be fine in that sweet voice she always used when I was upset. Touched my face with her hand and walked off. The scene changed, I was out on the street in front of Ruby's. The waitress was bent down looking at me with tears on her face. I know I must have screwed up bad this time. I started to apologize but the look on her face made my words stick. I felt like the heel of a shit shoveler's boot. She went to touch my face but I backed off a little, she smiled and pulled a 20 from her apron. "Got get some food ok? You don't spend that on anything but food, promise me." I raised my right hand and swore on baby jesus, that seemed to be good enough for her. She looked back over her shoulder as she went back inside, wiping the tear streaks from her eyes, gave a little smile and disappeared .

Despite my close encounter I wasn't sad. Even if it was just an episode, I got to see my Doris. A stray dog walked past, he had been through alot you could tell. All matted and filthy, world class junk yard type dog. I lit a lucky and tipped my hat to my fellow mongrel.


Submitted: January 22, 2009

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