A look at person with a dependency problem's life with a fantasy (for many) ending.
|Note: I wrote this for someone who battled daily with an alcoholic husband, to sort of give her a twisted chuckle. While the content or story isn't funny...I think many people who live like the wife in this story will find humor in it. I hope so anyway.
Outside the Bottle
Jim Grey hoisted another mug of the cold, pale Budweiser draft as he watched the game in Smitty’s bar. He had a lot of money riding on this game; those damned Braves had better get off their asses and pull it together.
“Hey Jimmy, better hope the Braves remember how to play, or your wife’s gonna have your ass for betting your paycheck again!” Roger yelled over the din around them.
“Screw that, they’ll go all the way this year, besides…ain’t no damned thing that loudmouth can do to me but talk my head off.” he replied with a smirk. Yeah, no woman was gonna tell him what to do, or give him any lip. ‘Specially when he’s the one that works his ass to the bone everyday for it. What does she do anyway? Can’t keep the house clean, can’t keep the kids in line, won’t get off her lazy fat ass to bother finding a job again. Hell she can’t even have a decent meal ready for him.
Jimmy turned his thoughts and attention back to the game; they just had to win. Somehow that woman messed up their bank account again, probably shopping and expecting him to believe that she only paid bills, or that it was his fault they were in the red again this month. He lit another Lucky Strike and watched the Braves give up another homer.
“Looks like they ain’t gonna make it ole boy," Roger slurred as he slapped Jimmy on the back. “Knock it off asshole, and of course they will, they’re the gol- damned BRAVES.” Jim replied, irritated at his drunken friend. He was getting a headache from the noisy college brats hoopin’ it up all over the bar. Damned kids, they should be home studyin’ or out cruisin’ or somethin’, not hanging out giving working men headaches.
“Gimme another Smitty, you getting’ slow in your old age or what?” Jimmy called to the busy owner who was tending bar this afternoon. “Look who’s talkin’ about old…you better slow down, you can’t hold it like a college kid anymore.” Smitty laughed as he pulled another draft for his regular.
“Hell you talking ‘bout? I’ll still be sober when these kids are all passed out or pukin’ in the bathroom.” Jimmy shot back. ”Besides, it’s better to be outside a bottle of good booze, then have the bottle outside you!”
Roger and Smitty and a few others grinned at Jimmy’s well worn line.
Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, Braves on top 6-4, Jeter’s up. Maddox throws one in fast and low, Strike one. Second pitch went high and inside, Ball one. Third pitch came fast into the sweet spot; SMACK! The bat cracked as it sent the ball hurling over the foul line into the stands; strike two. Maddox threw a hard curve, but Jeter was ready, and nailed it high and tight. Derek Jeter headed for his base, watching to see if it would lose steam. The fans were on their feet roaring as it landed high in the nosebleed seats. Some lucky punk just got the game winning ball as Jeter took the Yankees one step closer to the World Series.
“Dammit!” Jimmy yelled as he slammed another twenty on the bar. “Gimme a twelve to go, and tell Frank I’ll have the rest of his money tomorrow.” His head beginning to swim a little, Jimmy said his goodbyes and stumbled out the door towards home. A bunch of kids were playing a game of tag in the parking lot, one almost running him down, and served to only sour his mood even more.
Stumbling in the door, he smelled a roast cooking and knew Marie was probably scrambling to get it done because she spent too much time sitting on her ass watching TV and eating bon-bons or whatever to actually start it early enough to eat.
“What the hell is this? This ain’t Sunday you idiot! It’s Friday, I want Spaghetti tonight. Can’t you do anything right? Jesus, this place is a pig sty. Where the hell are Micheal and Beth…they should be cleaning this rat hole since you obviously can’t." Jimmy ranted in greeting to his exhausted wife.
“Mike has football practice and Beth is babysitting for the Fosters. Yesterday you told me you wanted a roast today…not spaghetti.” Marie said, irritated but resigned. She knew his moods well, and knew not to push him.
“Bull, Mike is probably out doin’ drugs with his asshole friends and god knows what Beth is really doing. God, you’ll believe anything those whining little assholes will tell you won’t you?” Jimmy shot as he popped a can of Bud. Reigning in her temper, she only said, “Dinner will be ready in about 20 minutes."
“Shoulda been done half hour ago” he replied as he started stripping off his clothes on the way to the shower.
“…And if it were you would’ve missed it anyway, but that would have my fault too.” She muttered as she gathered up his stream of clothes to add to the next load of wash. It seemed to her that Jimmy just got worse by the week. His drinking has been out of control for awhile now, but he won’t hear of it. He’d gotten nastier too. Marie tried to think back to the last time he had a nice word to say to her or the kids...but just couldn’t. It had been years at least. Well, not counting the crap he spouts when he wants something. She’d try again next time he hit a “suck up” mood to get him to agree to try Alcoholics Anonymous.
She’d have to be careful though, and if he refused, she resolved to leave him for sure. The kids are getting it now from him too. Mikes grades are dropping and she was afraid that he just may start doing drugs. Beth was only 14, but starting to act out a lot now. It’s better for the kids to find other activities when he’s like this she thought, as both had tempers and just didn’t know when to keep their mouths shut.
Dinner was the same as any other night; Jimmy took his plate and ate on the couch with yet another beer and hardly speaking to her, except to tell her the potatoes were bland and the roast was tough. Jimmy finished, set his plate on the floor and passed out.
Beth came home a few minutes past eleven and told Marie about her night. “Mostly it was ok, but the baby kept throwing up…yuck, but I made another twenty bucks for TV.”
“Good, we’ll talk more later go on get ready for bed before you wake your dad up, put that money somewhere safe.”
“OK, Love ya.” Beth said with a kiss to her mom before heading to bed.
The next morning, Beth got up and decided to see if she could scrounge up some chores in the neighborhood for more money. She really wanted the TV and VCR in her room, and made a deal with her mom that she’d pay half of it. Only forty dollars more to go, she thought as she went out into the bright Saturday morning.
Michael was harder to rouse. At sixteen, he liked to stay out most of the night, and then sleep well into the afternoon. Marie called him several times before he finally got up to rush out for football practice. Oh well, another Saturday alone, what’s new? Marie thought. She cleaned the house, did a few loads of laundry, and then went out to weed the garden before going grocery shopping. Jimmy won’t be home for hours yet; God how can he drink this early? She wondered for the hundredth or so time.
Jimmy had a blasting headache and the sun wasn’t helping. Damn those kids, making all that racket in the morning…won’t let someone even sleep in peace on a Saturday morning. He’d gone to Roger’s house to see about borrowing a few bucks till next week and kick back a few. Roger said he was busted though, so after a few drinks he went back home to see what he could find. He just knew that conniving wife of his was holding back and hiding money. She probably had a boyfriend that she spent money on. If he found out…well they’d both be sorry.
At home, he rifled through all the places he could think of, finding only a measely twenty five bucks. In Mike’s room, he found another fifty and a bag of weed. “Ha! I was right the damned kid is nothing but a dope head…stupid woman." He said as he pocketed the cash and dope before heading to Beth’s room. There, hidden in a small bag taped high above the inside door frame in the closet, he found another hundred. “BINGO!” He exclaimed triumphant. He had known his wife and kids hid money from him, so that they could spend it on garbage, and make him pay the bills and buy everything that they needed. God, the nerve. He broke his back everyday so that they could have everything they wanted, and so what if he had to do without things that he needed…so long as they could live high. Well that was about to change. Hell, it was probably his money they were stealing and hiding.
Once back at Smitty’s he paid off the Franky the money that the idiot Braves cost him, laid a few more bucks on a other games and bought a few rounds until he was pleasantly buzzed. Grabbing a twelve pack for the road, he went home to enjoy the quiet in the garden before the brats and wife started yappin’ at him.
The vegetables weren’t doing well this year. Like everything else. Jimmy sat there staring at the small sprouts that should have been bigger by now, and thinking about his life, and working his way through the twelve-pack.
I work my butt off day in and day out, for what? A tiny house that no one can be bothered to keep clean. Ungrateful kids, lazy nagging wife. I can’t even afford a decent car because they are always bugging money…or just stealing it. He went in to call the bank and see just how much was missing this week and take a leak.
The bank showed that he was further in the hole then he thought. “Marie must have gone on a shopping spree again.” He thought as he rummaged for the checkbook she kept in a drawer. Finding not the checkbook, but a bottle of Jim Beam, black label that he had forgotten about, he was pleased and took it outside with him. “Why not, I deserve it, screw them all,” He said to the anemic looking corn, and proceeded to get “outside” the bottle.
The hot sun baked his skin as he sat brooding and drinking. His mood soured more by the hour, and he noticed that the world started to look odd. It seemed that he was looking through a fish bowl; sort of glassy…with a light orange-ish hue. “Heh, good booze,” He said to the wider looking garden. This was really like looking through a fun house mirror, but for the color.
Jimmy worked his way through the bottle, chasing it now and then with a beer. The more he drank, the deeper the color seemed to get. It began to worry him, and he thought maybe he needed to get his eyes checked soon. His breathing became labored as if he had a weight pressing on his chest. Trying to stand up, he found that he couldn’t move well, it felt (and looked) like he were swimming in a fishbowl of sienna-colored water.
Breathing became harder, and he felt like he was drowning. Scared now, he tried to get up, but found that he could not. He actually was in water. assuming he was having a bad hallucination, he prayed as he thrashed around. Oh God, please help me, I swear I’ll never touch another drop of alcohol. Just save me, I don’t know what is happening to me.
The thrashing caused waves in the water and he realized that it was whispering to him.
“God cannot hear you, just as you never heard Him through the booze. Be careful what you wish for Jimmy…is it better to be outside the bottle? Oh, wait…you are inside it now. In getting completely outside it, it has consumed you now. You have become it.”
What conscientious that was once James Grey remained, and realized that it was true; he no longer had difficulty breathing…in fact…he couldn’t feel a thing. He had become liquor. All that remained was the sloshing thoughts. Was it the soul? Could he have really been swallowed and consumed like the countless bottles in the past? “Oh God help me…” he prayed again.
“There is nothing left. You prayed to your God for help, but never listened for an answer. No one can hear you now…” The voice faded away with quiet laughter.
Marie finally arrived home hot, and sweaty from having to carry the groceries home from the market. Stumbling in the door with her packages, she found a mess. Clothes strewn everywhere, empty beer cans, knocked over phone and rifled drawers. “Well, I guess Jimmy’s home,” she said to herself, trying to control her disgust and rage. She started the meatloaf for dinner, and then went out to the garden where she assumed he would be to let him know that dinner would be ready in an hour.
Jimmy was not to be found, only several empty beer cans, a couple of burger wrappers, and a mostly full bottle of Jim Beam Black Label. Knowing it wasn’t like him to leave a full bottle in the yard, unless he was too drunk to notice, she cleaned up and took the bottle into the house, figuring he went down to Smitty’s, or over to Rogers.
Jimmy never showed for dinner that night, nor did he turn up the next day. Worried, she called everyone she could think of, and the police. No one had seen him, he was not arrested, or in the area hospital.
A week went by, and still no word. Frank came to see her the following Sunday. It seemed that one of his bets paid off. He'd put his entire paycheck of eight hundred dollars on a bet that was so far fetched, that it paid a hundred to one odds. In his ire and the Braves, he bet that they would lose by at least 10...to the Cleveland Indians. The final score of the game was 21-9. Maddox had torn his rotator cuff early on, and the game went downhill from there for them.
Stunned, Marie couldn’t take it all in, or quite believe it. Frank laid a stack of bills on front of her, and walked out, wishing her the best. Finally she got up and went into the kitchen and saw the forgotten bottle of Beam sitting on the table. She looked from the bottle to the money and debated briefly on having a celebratory drink. “Nope, I think It’s time to clean the house properly once and for all.” She said to the bottle, as she uncapped it and tipped it over the sink.
Marie felt the lightening of her heart as the amber liquid swirled down the drain. If she thought she heard a scream as it was washed into the sewers, she assumed it was the last of Jimmy’s voice in her head for wasting his precious booze…after all it was his life…..