Renee stood silently in the cold mist as John angrily pushed against the door from inside. “AW…COME ON GAWDAMMIT,” came a shout from behind the threshold! In John’s inebriated state he didn’t recognize that he failed to disengage the second lock! He pushed on the door repeatedly while cursing his own bad luck. The frustrated man began to knock on his own door from the inside! “OPEN THE GAWDAM DOOR,” he shouted! “OPEN THIS FUCKIN’ DOOR,” he said! From the other side of the door Renee calmly reported, “I think the door is locked John, try using the lock in the doorknob instead!” Renee offered the kind words with a supportive and nurturing tone. John heeded the helpful advice and repeated the phrase, “in the doorknob.” With his instructions set in place john focused his intention on the doorknob as he fell down upon a knee and caught his balance against the door. He was at eye level with the doorknob, and he began to fondle it with the drunken curiosity of a small child. Upon careful scrutiny he remembered how to twist the latch. Upon doing so his weight pushed the door open and his limp and semi-lifeless body tumbled out into the night. “ARE YOU OKAY JOHN,” Renee asked with a professional affect? “AWWW…AWWW, HELP ME UP GAWDAM IT,’ he commanded as he stared up at her silhouetted figure. He didn’t recognize her at first, but when he realized it was Renee he found his focus. John loved his neighbors, and he didn’t want to come off as being a drunk. As per his belligerent request, Renee offered her right hand to John as he struggled to regain his composure. By the time John got back onto his feet, the comprehension of an unexpected guest had begun to really set in! His unstifled joy commanded him to give Renee a hearty embrace! Before she knew what was happening Renee found herself firmly wrapped within the arms of the drunken man. The uncomfortable gesture lasted long enough for Renee to redirect John’s energy in order to get him to calm down and focus on the task at hand. As if he were a small child, she led John back to the relative safety of his sofa. She sat him down and looked into his eyes while explaining the situation. She knew John couldn’t drive, and her heart began to sink. For a glimpse of a moment, John’s divine self was compelled to ease the despair that suddenly appeared from within Renee’s pleading eyes. His thoughts were hijacked by an unknown quantity which had come to intervene. Without John’s consent, an intruding voice struggled to manipulate John’s speech. The foreign entity wrestled with John’s musculature. The words, “Aw wan you take my truck,” slid from behind John’s cognitive recesses. It was a drunken sort of vernacular which loosely translated into, “Please feel free to use my truck. I wish I could offer more help but, as you can plainly see, I’m quite out of my mind at the moment.” The thought of borrowing the truck hadn’t crossed her mind, and even if it had, she wouldn’t have asked. But suddenly the solution had presented itself. The keys were laid out at arm’s length on the coffee table, and John extended his drunken arm and attempted to point. “Der is duh keys.” “Der is duh keys,” he repeated with increasing intensity. “Der is duh keys,” he said a final time!
Renee respected the wishes and drove briskly off into the night. Meanwhile john stumbled back towards the silent stereo. He hit the power button and was greeted by a song entitled, “Lido Shuffle, by Boz Skaggs. The music was blasting its way through the F.M. radio, and John’s dilapidated mind agreed it was the perfect drinking song! In fact it was John’s new favorite song, and he was compelled to sing along! He belted out incoherent lyrics with an intense sort of ferocity that was incongruent with his natural state. In a feeble attempt to keep the party rolling, John aggressively nodded his head up and down as he drunkenly attempted to keep the beat. The lyrics suggested John have “one more for the road,” so he danced a drunken jig and simultaneously scanned the unkempt living quarters for a misplaced bottle of Bacardi 151.
Time crept by while the radio played on. Soon another song came on that suited his tastes, and then another. The tempo of the biker music slowly subsided, and John’s dwindling aura was teetering on the precipice of extinction. The plight of the life force was irrelevant in John’s opinion. If Death were near she was more than welcome, he reasoned as he struggled towards the bathroom. The party was over because John’s nausea suddenly took precedence. He could barely function, and the delirium impeded his ability to reach the toilet. He desperately needed to vomit so he marshalled all of his remaining resources with the intention of making it to the restroom before he expelled the noxious waste all over himself and the carpet.
By this time an unspecified amount of rum, and at least forty ounces of Colt-45 malt liquor, joined forces, and overwhelmed his body’s ability to absorb the poison. It was the kind of drunkenness that had him laying naked and face down on the floor with one arm draped over the commode. His bare chest was planted firmly into the linoleum and his gaze was facing the base of the toilet. Through bloodshot eyes, John stared at nothing. The rancid smell of festering vomit permeated the small bathroom. The weight of his head compressed his left cheek firmly into the coldness of the damp tile. An undignified spittle of vomit was clinging to his lower lip, and transparent lifeless drool had pooled upon the urine-stained floor. His head was throbbing, and the mental fog was dense enough to cripple his ability to think rationally.
Suddenly he felt himself enveloped in a purely merciful radiant love that emanated from origins unknown, and he felt compelled to yield to the unexpected sensation. It was if a benevolent invisible sphere appeared with the intention of easing the anguish. If only for a moment, a grateful smile manifested upon his unshaven face which signified his acceptance of the elusive, yet quantifiable entity. The peaceful spirit reminded John of joys yet to unfold and John remembered the pain of his past, as peaceful loving energy permeated the small bathroom like highly charged gamma rays. The uninvited specter reminded John of the value of friendship and community which triggered pleasant emotions. Although his body was immobilized, John’s mind drifted towards a lucid dream in which he encountered the neighbors for the first time. The Shimeks had commandeered John’s attention as his life flashed before his eyes. His rational mind was convinced he was dying, yet he was unshaken. Instead his attention was laser focused upon a time when he had just finished adhering his flag above the threshold of his new place. It was a good memory, so John offered up minimal resistance as the vison flashed upon the backdrop of his poisoned mind.
The flag was a relatively large rectangular placard the boasted the words ROAD KING! The bold black text was accentuated by an orange backdrop. The metal sign came complete with its own Harley Davidson Logo, and its sole purpose was to announce that “Bikers Live Here.” John was sitting in a folding chair with a half-empty bottle of Colt 45 malt-liquor perched strategically between his thighs. He was sitting there admiring his handywork when the Shimeks pulled up in their Silver SUV. The neighbors shared the same driveway, so Zane wheeled the Isuzu parallel to John’s Toyota. Maggie, who had been obediently resting at the foot of John’s chair began to get excited, and for good reason. Renee and Elise were absolutely in love with the beautiful canine, and it was readily apparent. Elise was the first one out of the car and she immediately ran over to where John was perched asking, “is it okay if I pet your dog? Her dark eyes were shining like translucent diamonds, and her excitement was contagious. John lay on the bathroom floor basking in the healing energy when suddenly his vision turned dark! Images of Maggie and the happy young girl suddenly diminished as John’s attention focused onto the young girl’s father.
Zane’s first impression of John was one of resistance, meaning he caught the familiar scent of an ever-present lurking danger. He wasn’t afraid for Elise; he was afraid for himself. John was a drinking man and that troubled Zane deeply. He never considered himself to alcoholic, but Zane would admit that he abused alcohol occasionally. It’s been said that alcoholics can smell the affliction in others, and the trigger was enough to send Zane’s mind reeling. Memories of crippling hangovers and hateful confrontations flashed within the confines of his guilty mind. Subconsciously John knew Zane was in remission, so he wouldn’t tempt him. Instead of offering Zane a beer John said, “I like your HONDA!” The motorcycle was considered to be a rice-burner in biker parlance, and Zane anticipated the compliment to be followed up with a snide remark. A remark such as, “I’m bigger than you because I ride a real motorcycle, and only pussies ride Hondas!” That was Zane’s fear. He was afraid to confront a bully in front of the family. He feared he couldn’t do it without becoming aggressive. He taught the children that words are your weapons; but what if he couldn’t back it up in real time? “What if John tries to push my buttons,” he asked himself as he wrestled with three bags of groceries and a gallon of milk. He was grateful that he had a task to tend to because it gave him an exit. In an uninspired tone, Zane told John, “I’ve always rode Hondas.” Zane’s demeaner was slightly dismissive, yet he was still able to produce a friendly nod while doling out an innocuous smile. John offered up a genuine smile in return and said, “I like how you customized the handlebars…it makes it more nimble.” Zane nodded with appreciation and refocused his attention back to the task at hand. He proceeded through the archway that led around the corner and walked the few steps that led to the relative safety of their front stoop. He didn’t feel like mingling, so he proceeded to put away the groceries while the rest of the family visited with the friendly new neighbor. The image faded from John’s mind, as he was bombarded by a smattering of random memories and events that he encountered during his short time on earth. His vision included a glimpse of his own birth, combined with that of his wedding day. As if they were tossed into a cosmic kaleidoscope, the memories twisted and become knotted. John feared his entire life was nothing more than a tangled web of trivial events as he evaluated what he’d done with it. What was left of his rational mind had concluded that he was at the brink of death.
When John came back he found himself glued to the linoleum where he had been passed out for hours. He was dangling at the precipice of oblivion when Maggie came up to him and instinctively nuzzled at his wrist. She was a beautiful Golden Retriever and John’s only friend. His heart rate was slow and faint, and because of this, Maggie began to whimper and cry fearing her master’s demise. The faithful hound dutifully nudged up against the stubble of John’s pale face in an attempt to rekindle the familiar life force. John was unresponsive for a while longer, but soon his inner light began to flicker. “Why do you keep doing this to yourself,” asked the uninvited specter as she made her calculated departure. Once again John grappled with the fact that he was still in this world. Maggie sat whimpering by his side as John took stock of his situation. John’s immediate task was to vanquish the aching throbbing in his head, so he began to extricate himself from the bathroom floor. His primary objective was to find a drink of water.
…to be continued
Fifty-Two-year-old, stay at home dad, philosopher, and recovering narcissist.