Thanks to my usual Editors: Dowyd & Duffiedawg!
"Whiskey Man's my friend, he's with me nearly all the time
He always joins me when I drink, and we get on just fine
Nobody has ever seen him, I'm the only one
Seemingly I must be mad, Insanity is fun
If that's the way it's done"
(© 1966 - John Entwhistle)
"That does it! Keys in the fishbowl or not, I'm cutting you off! When you start talking to someone who isn't even there it's time to quit the drinking and sober up."
Phil, mine host and the sole proprietor, owner and chief glass washer at Phil's Cantina had obviously taken exception to my long conversation with the young man seated next me and I couldn't resist the urge to be witty in reply.
"I talk to myself all of the time. It's healthy — unless you start to answer yourself using different voices. I try not to do that anymore — it makes the natives nervous. Besides, you served a whiskey sour to him not five minutes ago, so he can't be all that invisible ... or is he?"
Now there was no one sitting there but sanity be praised there was indeed an empty double-old fashioned whiskey glass. Phil gave the glass and me a good number of quite evil and dubious looks and sidled off into a corner to have his own lengthy conversation with himself. Phil spends too much time here, and often alone ... and most definitely does 'talk to himself'. I'd only been here for three days and I'd figured that one out for myself early.
I do seem to have far too much time on my hands. I like to drink (a lot — probably too much these days) and I love to drive around the countryside — fortunately never both activities at the same time. I was just aimlessly driving down the coast with vague thoughts of seeing Corpus Christi when I found Lovett and more specifically, Phil's Cantina and I've been beached here ever since.
Phil has the very sensible policy of demanding your car keys when serving a third drink to any customer. They go into a big round glass art deco fish bowl right by the cash register and you won't get them back unless Phil is 100% certain you're safe on the road. For me, that would probably be last Wednesday ... also I think the last day it stopped raining for longer than ten minutes. Today was a Saturday afternoon and every County road within fifty miles was probably under at least two feet of water.
The area had had a sudden tropical depression build just offshore out in the Gulf that refused to either intensify into a named tropical storm or hurricane, or start to move out the area. Instead it had gently crept onshore for a few miles until it ran right smack into a weak cold front — stalling both of them right in place. The result was three to six inches of rain every hour, non-stop for the next three days. Not much wind, just rain and lots of it. It might have been only around 3 o'clock in the afternoon but it might as well have been night, it was so dark outside from the heavy low-lying rain clouds.
Sitting out the rainstorm in the establishment of the modern genius of frozen alcoholic concoctions seemed like a good idea at the time but after three days of hanging out at Phil's, I'd be lucky if I sobered up by Monday, even if I stopped drinking right now. Not that I would anyway. I've been finding more reasons to just stay drunk lately and precious few reasons to not to.
Rainy evenings have not been my favorite thing lately. It helped even less that today was the anniversary of her death. That was reason enough for another drink or three right there alone. I had lots of pity that needed drowning and listening to the rain pound all around us put me into 'just the mood' to do some really serious drinking. Phil was still acting like a swine and dangled my frozen hard lemonade refill just barely out of reach.
"Ok Bud, out with it! You're obviously drinking to forget, so why don't you tell me what it's all about before you become unconscious and forget your own name?"
"Can't, Lou." I replied with a wink, "Forgotten already. Everything ... just who are you again?" Too bad, he either didn't get the Abbot and Costello reference or was smart enough to pretend that he hadn't. Just as well, I didn't feel like reenacting 'Who's on First?' anyway,
"Too bad, I just remembered it's time to close the bar. Booze all gone — no more for today. Think I'll just turn of the machines, shut off the lights and grab a paddle and swim home. Actually with any more rain my mobile home will just float down the beach and meet me half way. Win-Win situation for everyone — except for you. You can just splash back to your motel room over at Charlie's."
We exchanged beady-eyed glares, but it didn't accomplish much. I blinked first, but won the tactical victory of snatching the refill from Phil's hand that had just barely crept into range.
"A toast then. To lying and cheating wives!"
"That's a toast I can drink to." Phil concurred and poured himself a glass of cheer of his own.
I never did find out what his story was but two refills later he managed to get most of the details of mine.
Two years ago this very day I was a happily married man with a delightful six year old daughter that was the very apple of my eye. Well actually, I was 'happy' ... my wife was just 'married'.
For at least the prior six months her behavior had been quite erratic. She was "working late" suddenly at least two nights a week and was spending every Saturday afternoon off with a girlfriend named Sue. Soon Friday nights and some Sunday afternoons were added to her now busy social schedule. Much too busy to spend time with our daughter, Avery, or with me.
Oh, there were the usual stories of a 'forthcoming promotion' and the seemingly endless troubles that her girlfriend needed constant assistance and help dealing with. Fine, but it was becoming increasing obvious that our own home problems were now of far less importance or significance to her.
Two years ago on this day her life of lies came figuratively crashing down upon her. Literally. It was late on a very dark and rainy Thursday evening when Evelyn, my wife, called to say that she would be home late and could I pick up Avery? Usually, I did pick up our daughter each evening, but this Thursday of every month involved a sales forecasting briefing to our Board that no one else could handle in my place and I could not get out of it until at least 7PM, at the earliest.
Evelyn raged in fury. Her 'visit to her friend' was clearly of far more importance to her than our "Rule" that only one evening each month I could not pick up Avery. Angry words were said by both of us and when she saw that she could not make me change my mind she slammed down the phone in livid anger.
I never spoke with her again.
The monthly sales meeting did finish up early anyway as everyone was eager to get home early due to some bad weather heading into our area. I was able to get to Avery's day care by 6:30 but found that Evelyn had picked her up about half an hour earlier. I went home and cooked my usual TV dinner (I never did like to cook for just myself) and was asleep alone in bed by 9PM.
The phone rang sometime early in the morning, around 2 or 3 I think but I didn't feel like answering it. The bed beside me was cold and empty and in my semi-asleep state I assumed that she had had a flat or dead battery in her car. Hah! Let her call AAA I thought and went right back to sleep. I'd forgotten that Avery was still with her or I would have most certainly answered it.
The phone rang again at about 4:30 and then again at 6 when I gave up and answered it. Then I wished I'd really answered the phone the first time at 2. Avery was in critical condition at Pearland County Hospital and died shortly before I could reach her side. If I had answered the first call that the Pearland Police had made at 2AM, then I could have at least been there with her before she passed. Evelyn had been DOA at the original accident scene.
The early facts were that Evelyn had an elevated blood alcohol level that suggested more than a few drinks and that at about Midnight in the very heavy rain her car just slightly crossed over the dividing line of the small ill-lit county highway. It was tragic that a large truck with an equally distracted driver chose that same moment to also just barely cross the line. The two vehicles just barely made contact, but their speed and mass was enough to flip Evelyn's compact sedan around like a toy and into a large roadside open drainage ditch full of water.
The truck driver wasn't drunk, but he had been receiving a blowjob from an 'unauthorized passenger' at the time and never even stopped to render aid or even to call the accident in. The damage to his truck was noted and reported and a smart Sheriff's Deputy followed up and got paint chip matches and arrested the driver a few days later for Manslaughter, Hit and Run and fleeing the scene of an accident.
The initial Coroners Report stated that Evelyn had probably died instantly after the accident of a broken neck but Avery's injuries would have been treatable if the accident had been reported in a timely manner, instead of being discovered nearly two hours later by a passing patrol car.
Some odd questions about Evelyn started to arise the very next day when the County Coroner had some embarrassing questions to ask me; the most poignant being "Why did Evelyn have fresh semen in her mouth, vagina and ass from multiple DNA donors?"
.... There is more of this story ...