September 3, 2009

2010 Rough Draft

This is still rough, but its in the Drawer for now. :

I wake up. In bed for once, and dry. Too dry. The muscle in my left forearm shakes and my thighs are sore.
The thin sweet acid flavor of vomit lines my mouth and nasal passages. Everything I breathe taste like this. The coffee I brew will taste like this. I don't remember throwing up. I'm glad I don't remember. The violent spasm as your stomach churns is a feeling I've grown used to, but isn't a feeling I court or buy flowers or write love poems to.
It just happens.
My pulse thumps behind my forehead and in my cheekbones, and I know that this is a cop-out. When you crack that first beer, the cheap off-label 'icebrewed' brand that you don't even like but you buy because it has slightly more alcohol than other cheaper beers, you knew. If it was your choice and you didn't need so many of them you would buy something nice and imported, maybe one of the Dutch or German beers in a green bottle.
But you don't because you can't. Its too weak; too expensive; you don't want to look bad in the checkout girl's eyes. The two ladies at the liquor store, who you see two or three times a week, are not your type. Maybe in a pinch and several beers deep, you might settle for the younger one, but you like the small talk you receive, that small bit of human contact might be the best or maybe the most honest bit of conversation you get all week. Liquor store girls are better than bartenders.
Liquor store girls, for the most part don't see what their product does to you. You can smile and chat about the weather and whatever and finish your transaction and move on. You don't feel as if they're pretending to be nice, or have the delusion that they're attracted to your charm. And wit.
Now, I would be remiss if I tried to claim that this is what I thought this morning. What with the lights being so luminous, the birds playing rock music in the trees, and my mouth sucking a sulfurous icicle, I couldn't tell if I should go to the kitchen or the toilet first. But I've had enough nights creating mornings like this that I have at times been able to pull through and make these reflections. Now, my cognitive abilities focus on simple monosyllables, “Fuck” and “Shit,” and “Where's the Dog?”.
I think I said earlier that “Its just happens.” You know and I know that I was lying to you and myself. First of all, you don't buy thirty-six beers if you're only planning on having six. You don't buy a gallon of ten-dollar vodka to sip in front of the fire. They do make, but you don't buy, smaller quantities. You don't buy three packs of cigarettes and empty your wallet of important documents if your don't at least plan on being irresponsible. I've lost three phones, four wallets and a money clip in my career. Now, this isn't something I'm proud of. It is just a side-effect of being over-indulgent. I went almost eight months in my very early twenties without an ID of any kind except my school ID. Twice in eight months, only twice now, I was stopped from doing “adult” things because of this lack: once from walking into a bar, and once from a liquor store girl who wouldn't let me buy a pack fo cigarettes. She was new too, and it was just frustrating because I smoke a lot and someone was telling me not to smoke when I could and should have been at the time but she was stopping me. Someone telling me not to do something like that made me mad. Even the memory is frustrating through long stretches of time have passed.
I eventually got the ID replaced – once I was legal I wanted to be able to show people who might question that I was who I said I was and I was as old as I said I was. Mainly, I wanted to get into the strip club for my 21st birthday, and I wanted to pick up liquor for the party. The store I usually went to was more of a beer store. Depending on what you're in, you have to get used to different rules about when you can buy beer or what time you can start or stop buying from stores and bars. Its one of the most amazingly hard things to do when drunk, except for driving.
The only consistent rule, at least in America is that you have to be twenty-one to drink. It didn't used to be this way, but I'm too young to remember when some kids could go over to Nebraska to get some beer but if you lived in the middle of the state you were fucked. Hell, they have some dry counties still. The twenty one rule exist and is lamented by young adults everywhere I know, at least in theory. No law I can think of is less respected or followed. Now, I'm not planning on saying on wether that law is a good one or not, but I know its easily beaten. I know because I did it consistently once I moved out of the dorms. I always had older friends or roommates, but I preferred going out to sit in the VIP area and brood, slowly nursing a Jack and coke that you know is made with Pepsi.
The key to underage drinking is just knowing people. I guess its like being a swinger in that light. I don't know much about swingers, I just know that you need to know other swingers to do it. Most people I knew in my early twenties knew me first as my sister's brother or my sister's boyfriend's “brother-in-law.” Knowing people allowed me to walk into a bar I went to a lot and be somewhat shocked if they wanted to collect two or three dollars from me just for the privilege of walking into their establishment. The same thing applied to checking my ID. I had a fake ID for exactly one night. A guy I knew worked at a bar I went to. He was nice enough to drop it off at my house. That night was one of the nights that I lost my wallet. I never tried to use it, as that night started at a party, middled with straight Everclear, and finished in my own bail.
So fake ID were bad ideas. I'm not superstitious, but someone with less skepticism might seem that coincidence and avoided them. I was just lazy and I didn't like asking people to do things for me. I also don't like doing things for myself or other people. It could be why I am constantly jobless, but I got a check from the government. My disability isn't physically obvious but you haven't been listening. But knowing people, that's the key, and is drilled into my mind. I don't know anyone anymore. I was once though, a twenty-year-old asshole walking into a bar without an ID if any kin, being carded and having the balls slash the arrogance slash whatever to look this guy in the eyes – mind you at this time I had a job and just came from there stinking of sweat and deli meats but mostly sweat – I look him in the eyes and ask, “Do you know who I am?”.
Now, suppose that I meant to ask nicely. You know, with the attitude that I was here all the time, I just want to sit peacefully at your bar and contribute revenue so that you and your bartender and the bar-back and your owner can pay your cable TV bills and your can watch the wrestling when you have Mondays off. I doubt that the tone I wished to convey was conveyed in the way that I wanted to say. I was young enough that I didn't listen to myself. In my subjective memory, I was rather respectful. But the problem was that he didn't know that I knew people and my bargaining slash negotiating position wasn't the strongest when the other party didn't know THAT. Later, he learned just who I was (no one in retrospect) but he knew me, so there were no more glaring contests. I eventually has something to give him if he asked again, but that night I turned around and walked out and crossed the street and walked two blocks south to another place I knew people.
There were other perks to knowing people. Sometimes you didn't have to wait in line, other times your drinks were stronger that they should have been, sometimes your tab was less than it should have been. But the thing is that you don't question it. You don't assume that the person is helping you out for whatever reason, you don't call attention to this fact. You just accept this if you know people. To acknowledge the side benefits is like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The very act of observation screws things up. You don't go to the boss and ask if Standrig pours a double for a single and only charges for every other one and if that's ok. I never saw this tested. Its just that of everyone who knew people you don't see anyone going to the boss without anything that sounded like good news.
People change.
The problem with this situation was that although I knew people, I was at the lowest level of knowing people.

Something happens here. Action that drives the plot.


Its a warm January day, one of those that would be cold in May or June but lifts your spirits after the cold Darkness of November and December. I'm sweating and shivering but the false spring sunlight pouring on winter's denuded landscape overshadows the few snow piles remaining. I pull out a rancid sweatshirt from the pile in the corner that is both dog bed and dirty laundry. His white hairs cling impossibly to everything I own. He wags his tail and jumps at my knees while I stumble towards the door, my ankles then my knees and then my hips loosening up as I prepare to climb the faded wooden stairs. The sunlight overwhelms as does the diesel exhaust blowing from the north. A main road just to the north runs parallel to river, and the trucks spew forth their gas all day. I've gotten used to the noise, but can't breathe the air. Its just too much in my mouth after everything else. I wretch again, into the bushes, and pull my dog away from chewing at the loose liquid soaking into the pine chips.