A drunk man pays the price.
|(Co-winner in the Writer's Cramp on 1/19/13)
Jason squirmed around on the barstool and wondered how he would explain to Cindy.
“Yeah, another whiskey, straight,” he mumbled as the bartender’s question brought him out of his fog.
Jason was not a drinker, but a man could take just so much. Eighteen years he had worked for Sam Johnson, given his all to the job, stayed late, come in early, missed Eric’s ballgames, and now to let him go like he was nothing, nobody. It wasn’t right.
He had seen the signs, the slow economy, younger guys getting the juicy assignments, but he ignored them, trusting Sam to be fair. Well, now it was finished, and here he was forty years old and jobless.
“Hey, Pal, mind if I sit down?” The scruffy-looking old man slid onto the stool as Jason shrugged his shoulders.
“One for me and one for my pal here,” Jason said and laid some bills on the bar.
Jason nodded and tipped back the shot glass, spilling some down his chin. Maybe things weren’t so bad. He never did like Sam Johnson. He’d find another job and so what if he didn’t. There was always unemployment. He’d earned it.
The bartender came over and looked at Jason. “No more for you, fella. You need to get outa here and go on home, face the music.”
“Can he do that? I want another one.” He looked toward the old man who was nodding his head.
“He’s done it to me enough times.”
Jason slid one leg off the stool and almost fell as he put his weight on it. The old man grabbed his arm just in time.
“Yeah, friend, you need to go on home while you can still walk.”
Jason stood and looked around trying to remember where he came in.
“Just let me get outside and the fresh air will clear my head.” He staggered a little but brushed off the old man’s hand.
Not much of a drinker, the whiskey clouded his judgment but he took some deep breaths and made it to the exit and fresh air. He didn’t realize the old man was close behind him, watching for a misstep.
Once outside he felt the fog lifting as he looked around wondering whether to go right or left – and where did he leave his car? He walked a ways to the intersection and grabbed onto a light pole for a breather. Traffic was heavy at quitting time, but then he was usually in it, not looking at it. A real looker walked up beside him. He must have been ogling her because without even looking, she stepped off the curb and started hurrying across the street.
Jason saw the yellow cab barreling down the street heading right for the girl. It was like he was outside himself, watching actors in a movie. He hurled himself toward her, pushing her to the ground and out of the taxi’s path.
Other people who watched from the sidewalk called him a hero as he lay dying on the hot macadam.
The old man standing among them spoke but not many heard. “The whiskey gave him that courage, lucky for the girl, not so lucky for him.