“Let’s have one more, Maggie” I say to the middle-age bartender as she wipes down glasses from the washer.
Maggie lifts the bottle of Beefeater Gin and heads my way. “You want more ice?” She asks picking up the ice scoop.
“Oh, hell no!” I shoot back. “You know I don’t like that shit. It fogs up the drink. Besides that, you know what fish do in water,” I chuckle. Maggie smiles and tips the Beefeater to my glass.
“Pour it like you don’t own it, honey” I muse as I watch her pour it deep.
One of the virtues of living two doors down from the corner bar is not having to worry about driving. Hell, I hardly have to worry about walking. Maggie knows that. She’s been around for years and so have I. In some sort of ways, we are friends. We have a lot in common as she pours it and I drink it. We both have a relationship with the gin. She uses it to make money. I use it to drown the rats that gnaw at my brain. They still gnaw but the gin dulls the pain. Maggie and I are both happy with the results. She’s got a good living and me, well, it keeps me drunk and that’s all I care about.
I’m a gin man. I have been for a long time now. I like the Beefeater but truth be known and times be hard, I’d drink paint thinner if it smelled like gin. I’d like to think I discovered gin and told the world of its wonderful benefits. That’d be a lie. Gin found me. It found me curled up inside myself. It found me hiding in the dark; fearing my thoughts; pitying my past and at a loss for a future. Gin found me and took me away from all that. It took away everything that hurt except maybe the rats that gnaw. It only dulls their bite as they chew my brain.
“Hey, Maggie, whatever happen to the good ol’ girl, anyway?” I asked swallowing yet another large gulp of the Beefeater.
“Not a goddamn thing” She replies and laughs. “Why don’t you find one of them good ol’ girls, Mike, and settle down?” She adds. I laugh.
“You gotta be shittin’ me, Maggie,” I say, “You mean there’s still some of ‘em out there?” I add looking confused. “You know I already found my lady, Maggie, and she lives in that bottle right over there on the shelf” I say as I point toward the Beefeater. “Now bring her right on over here and let me give her a little kiss” I plead pointing once again to my empty glass. Maggie says nothing. She grabs the bottle and pours it deep once more.
Maggie and I talk a lot. Most times she and I are about the only ones in here during the daylight hours. I don’t know much about this place at night but I think there are probably more folks around. I don’t care for them much. By the time the sun has set, my mood has changed. By then I will have climbed off this stool and crossed the street to the liquor store to pick up my night bottle. By then, I just want to be alone with my lady and make love to her while she drowns the rats. She’ll spend the night by my bed comforting me and in the morning I will toss her empty glass carcass into the dumpster by the steps on my way back down here to spend some time with Maggie. I guess you could say that I got myself a routine.
To look at me, you probably wouldn’t think of me as a successful man but I did all right when I was out there. I gave that shit up not too long after gin found me. Work was gettin’ in the way of duties to my lady. I needed time to savor her warmth and bathe in her fluid kisses. We can’t get enough of each other. I got a little money put away and my Social Security and that about covers my needs most of the time. Maggie pours me a free one or two every day and I drink the cheap stuff at night so it all works out. There ain’t much of anything that I want so I might as well spend it on some gin. Everybody needs a reason to get out of bed. I guess that’s mine.
“Hey Maggie, how long is it to Christmas?” I sputter with a stream of gin running down my chin.
“Wipe your face” She says, “I would say about four cases of Beefeater” Maggie adds with a grin. I laugh out loud and slur my words,
“That’s pretty goddamn funny, Maggie. You pretty funny girl” I say laying my head on the bar and gazing back at her. “What time is it, Maggie?” I ask draining the last remnants of gin from my glass.
“Time to pack your ass home, Mike” she replies, “It’s five o’clock.”
“All right then” I say pulling myself from the stool. I’m just gonna head over to the liquor store and then get along home. I see you tomorrow, Maggie” I add.
“Yeah, Mike, see ya’ tomorrow” Maggie replies.
I head off to get into my night mood and drown some rats once more.
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