Not everything skips generations.
Billy rounded the bar carrying two cases of longneck bottles, one stacked upon the other. His eyes flicked to the newcomer at the far end, and then returned to restocking. When all bottles were in coolers, he fixed a highball glass of ice water, carried it to the man, and placed it in front of him. “What are you doing here?”
The man turned the glass in his fingertips. He didn’t speak. His eyes studied Billy’s face.
“Well,” Billy said in an anger tinged voice, “I’m about to close. Water is all you’re getting here, so don’t ask. And, that’s last call.”
“William,” his steady voice belied his frail body. “I didn’t come ask’n for a drink. I didn’t come ask’n anything. I come tell’n.”
“Really, Dad? ‘Tell’n?’ What could you possibly tell me? That you’re sober enough to speak is a wonder.” Billy turned his back and started plugging the row of taps along the back wall.
“I’m sober two years and you know it. And, you know I accept my responsibilities...my mistakes. I know I can’t drink. It’s in my blood. My dad’s blood. Your granddad’s blood. I can’t drink.”
Silence filled the bar as Billy continued his closing chores. His dad took a sip of water.
Finally, Billy stopped in front of the man. “You came to tell, so tell.”
His dad studied his face again then said simply. “Your brother is dead. He left the program and died of liver failure in a VA hospital in Chattanooga. Too much bad hobo-hooch. That’s all...Robert is dead.” Then he rose and left the bar.
“Bobby’s Dead,” Billy said out loud. Billy pulled a bottle of Jameson off the shelf. He grabbed a glass, uncorked the bottle, and moved to pour a double.