He had a real drinking problem: Two hands
and only one mouth! His was a thirst the likes
I’ve never seen. And it was impossible to keep
up, but you could nearly die just trying. It soon
became very, very trying indeed. And when a
5-litre bottle of whiskey arrived on the doorstep
one day (a prize from a raffle) he announced that
it was going to be his contribution to the rent
(I would have preferred some money). And then,
also, it would be rude not to open the rent-contribution
for a wee toast on that night. The wee toast turned, all
too quickly, into a giant baked loaf. And everyone
that entered the room had to take a shot. I went
to the movies, just to get out of the house. I think I
was even quite prepared to see something that starred
Returning as late as I could, the house was a mess and
He was holding court in his rugby shorts. His elbow
propped on a makeshift bar, and big billows
of smoke to encapsulate the cliché of it all.
The downstairs neighbour didn’t want to attend but
was yelled at so often he felt he had to cross the threshold.
I wished he hadn’t. Not as much as he was about to wish
that though. Denied a shot and was told he was a faggot.
Shrugging, he said he was fine just to watch. Next thing
he was slugged in the side of the head, no reason of course.
Well, there was always a reason.
“Smart cunt, looking down on us for having a good time”.
I actually had to drag the slim weight of him, feet first,
to the door then carry him downstairs, apologising
with a newfound embarrassment as the gathered
downstairs housemates screamed at me needing
to know what was wrong with us (I couldn’t answer)
and that the police would be hearing about this, that
the landlord would also be getting a call.
I walked back upstairs. The weight of a cold new world
on my shoulders, the whiskey bottle on its side, a slug to
the side of its head had toppled it. No reason, of course.
He was dancing to the Curtis Mayfield I’d put on the stereo.
“You always know the tunes to chill me
right out” He said. Before I silently went to bed.
That was the start of the worst summer I ever had.