“What, you’re crying already?” He is sitting in the chair Da’s friend gave me to put in my living room. I’m sitting on the couch and Zimmer the Golden Retriever is snoozing beside me. Poor guy. He had a long day. Started with the first trip to the dog park of the year in all its muddiness, then a bath at day care and 6 hours romping with dogs. My man is pooped. It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night and I’m a newly-single 43-year-old man sitting here on my couch and my lower-middle income apartment writing a blog post. Poor me. Poor me. Pour me …
“Another drink?” He says as He pulls a brand-new midnight blue flask with black trim out of His pocket and unscrews the lid. “You should really think about it this time. Because this …thing you’re doing with your mom is gonna hurt.”
He’s referring to a conversation I just had with my mother 15 minutes ago. We were talking about finally writing the book about my almost 14 years living with a traumatic brain injury and almost 7 years sober.
“Ah ah ahhhh,” He says, Maker’s Mark still swirling around his tongue. “Not 7 years yet buddy boy. And you know how your precious Program feels about counting your chickens before they hatch.” He lights an American Spirit cigarette and draws on it deeply.
“Go outside on the balcony if you’re gonna do that,” I say. “I’m not smoking in the apartment.”
“Yes, but I am,” He says and smiles wickedly. “Take your new rules for your new place you had to get because Kim kicked your ass to the curb because you bloody made her want to drink and stick’em all where the sun don’t shine. M’kay?”
We lock stares, Him smiling, me definitely not.
“That’s not why she broke up-“
“Please. Just say she dumped you, because that’s what happened.”
“Fine. That’s not why she dumped me,” I say. “It was a lot more complicated than that.”
“True, it was more complicated than that,” He says and pulls the coffee table over to the chair. He then kicks off the reading glasses and Blogging for Dummies and Squarespace for Dummies book and the Bluetooth Speaker and crosses His outstretched legs. “She dumped you because there was a whole host of things about you she couldn’t stand and very few reasons to keep your sorry ass around.”
I come forward to sit directly across from Him. Sighing deeply through clenched teeth, I take a deep meditative breath. “No, she said the age gap is too big and we’re just at different places in our lives.”
“Right!” He said, pulling on the flask again. “Your place is you are a freakin’ janitor and her place is financially stable and she was tired of carrying your broke ass all the time.” He says. “Can’t say I blame her, can you? She decided to cut her losses and send you on your way. Let your parents worry about supporting you instead of her.”
I resist the almost overwhelming desire to grab Him by the collar and toss Him off my 3rd floor balcony. True, He’d just be there sitting in the chair when I turned around (fictional figments of the imagination are peculiar that way) but it would be momentarily satisfying.
“You need to leave. I have work to do,” I say and put my laptop back on my lap.
“Watcha doin’?” He says peering at the screen (He’s sitting next to me now. Told he was nimble.)
“I’m reading over the first draft of the manuscript we’ve written so far,”
He raises his eyebrows. “Wow,” he says and claps my thigh. “I didn’t know you guys had started without me!”
“Trust me, you’ll get your chance,” I say as I read.
“My chance? You mean I get to be in it?”
“Well, you are the reason I discovered I could still write even better than I could before I got sick.”
“Ha! I’ll be the judge of that!”
“Yes, actually you will, because you only exist because I created you. And I’m gonna need you. So I have to get you out of the closet, dust you off and we’ll go skipping hand in hand back to 14 years ago when I really started my journey of living with a Traumatic Brain Injury and my affliction of addiction and how my parents and my sponsor and Alcoholics Anonymous and Zen Buddhism and my friends in the Program all saved my life.
“Saved your life up until now, you mean,” He said and put His arm around me. “Considering how you felt tonight before you wrote this post, I’d lay even money that this book you’re gonna write with your mom is gonna take a hefty toll on you. Lonely nights like this one are going to get more frequent and honestly, I don’t think you have it in you. To revisit all the pain, the suffering, the isolation, it’s gonna be too rough on you pal. And let’s be frank. You don’t have the grit to relive it all again. And you certainly don’t have what you need to go toe to toe in a rematch with me. I’ll emotionally and mentally beat you black and blue,” He gloats as he shakes us both side to side.
“But, if it means I can draw you back in and make you go back out and start drinking again, I’ll be happy to contribute anyway I can!” He says as He stands up heads towards the door. “And you needn’t worry.”
“About what? Where are you going?” I asked.
He smiles as His eyes flare a fierce yellow. “I’ll bring the booze.”