Bob Milton was 55, his life was a mess. He was literally broke. He had had enough. More then anyone could take, he thought as he parked his Ford F150 Pickup Truck in front of the liquor store.
He was a recovering alcoholic but tonight he just couldn't take anymore. He just could not think. He could not handle the thrashing he had gotten from his ex-wife about their financial affairs or for forgetting important things.
He was three months shy on his alimony. It was just beyond his means for him to live and also pay for her life too. She didn't care. She just wanted the money.
Even though he gave her everything she wanted in the divorce settlement she never relented. All she wanted was more money.
She had exclusive use of their very nice house and custody of their son. Yet, she wanted more and more. It never ended. She never relented.
Even though she risen to the executive level in the Telecommunications Field since their divorce and was earning a triple digit monthly salary, five times what he earned in a week, she wouldn't relent. He thought she epitomized the being of a Witch.
She was relentless. She didn't care what his hardships were. She just wanted every pound of flesh she could gather. Even though she was earning way more than he earned, she would not give Bob a break!
They had been divorced for over 30 years. Bob had even financed her education but whenever possible she happily found the time to disrupt his life.
When she descended on him, Bob always found his way to a bottle. Even though it only gave her more ammunition to fire at him, at least temporarily, he could escape.
He knew he shouldn't go in. Shouldn't buy a bottle of anything, but he needed the crash and burn the liquor gave him. He just needed to escape. It was either that or just simply end it all.
But, he had a son he adored, so that was not an option. Crash and burn was. And then he could pick up the pieces. Start over again.
That was his only perceived option. Crash and burn. His head bowed to the steering wheel, "Crash and burn!" he sighed to himself.
His mistake this time was to let his son's birthday go by without a present or even a card. Being a guy, those events seem to slip by unnoticed. Not remembered. Couldn't be remembered.
Guys are just not good with appointments, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or anything that had a date attached to it.
Women on the other hand, remember everything; the time and date of their first kiss, their first meeting, their first everything, their last everything and all that was in between. They even remembered what song was playing when all the events happened. And seconds and thirds. Everything.
Girls ... women ... can remember the most insignificant detail and chew a guy into little pieces, then spew him out over the landscape when he forgets.
When a guy forgets, they haul him up by his soft parts. Shake his being and apply immense guilt for the crime of "Forgetting!" Reminding him that it was a "Capital Offense," worthy of the death sentence, no matter how small the infraction.
It was the bane of his existence, like most men, to forget things that women thought were important. Being 55, he just knew that no matter what the event, he would forget it. It had been the same all of his life. Nothing was going to change that.
His ex-wife savored being able to catch him, berate him and toss in a huge helping of guilt. She was an expert at being able to push his buttons and drive him back to the bottle he so desperately wanted to escape. She reveled in the satisfaction that whenever she wanted, she could destroy him. She was truly a WITCH!
Tonight was not going to be a time that the bottle would not reach his lips. He had an AA Sponsor who helped when he was desperate, but tonight was not one of those nights. He didn't want help. He wanted escape. It was the only way.
He was vulnerable and he didn't care. He just needed the escape the bottle gave him. He wanted the escape.
His hands were wrapped around the top of the steering wheel and his forehead was pressed against his knuckles. He wanted to cry, but the tears would not come. He wanted to cry, but he was a man, so the tears would not come.
Things always seemed to come in threes. So in his despair, he started the routine of banging his head against his knuckles. He had told himself, when he was finished, he would go in, get a bottle of 20 year old Scotch and drown his sorrows.
Before he could beat his forehead against his knuckles the second time, there was a face on the other side of the window.
Someone else was there. Tapping on his window. What on earth could they want with him. He just wanted to get his Scotch and go home and commiserate with it.
But there was that disconcerting knock. And then a shout, "Hey!"
Bob looked out trying to focus through his heavily encrusted window to make a face out of the distortion there.
The window handle had long broken off so the option of opening the window was not the road to be taken. He tried to wipe at least a little of the grime off the inside of the window with the side of his hand. It only made the vision more blurred.
It was a female. At least he had that figured out. Young, too, who was asking him, "Hey mister. Will you buy me a bottle? Please. I don't have any money. Please, just buy a bottle for me. Look. I'll do anything you want. Please!"
Bob got out of the cab, still wavering from the lengthy intense verbal thrashing he had just gotten from his ex-wife. To steady himself, he held onto the pickup's door as he very unsoundly planted his feet on the parking lot pavement.
The girl saw his insecure movements and said, "You need help Mister?
"No. I'm OK," Bob answered, adding, "But thanks."
That little exchange warmed his heart, like nothing had in hours. He had hit rock bottom emotionally and just that little ounce of concern, somehow, made him feel so much better. Someone cared. Yes, someone cared. Even if it was a stranger.
Then he asked her, "What do you want from the liquor store?"
"Anything," came the reply. "Rum is my favorite," She said. "Blue Flame is the best. But any brand of Rum is fine."
"Rum it will be," and Bob went into the store telling her to get into the cab while she waited. She looked cold and didn't have on a coat, just a tattered T-Shirt and well worn jeans.
Bob bought a fifth for him and a fifth for her. When he came out, she was in the passenger seat waiting anxiously.
As Bob got back into the pickup truck's cab, before she could say anything, he asked her if she had eaten.
She hung her head, shook it, looked over and told him, "No. Not today."
"Look," Bob said, "I haven't eaten since I had just a cup of coffee for breakfast, so I'm starved too."
"You did say, you'd do anything for the Rum, so how about this, we'll get pizza and go back to my place and eat it. Then we can figure out just what you can do for me."
"Yeah. Whatever," She said."
Bob pulled out his cell phone and called for a large pie for pickup. His home was about 15 minutes away and in the time it took to get to the Pizza Parlor, it would be ready for pickup.
"Give me the bottle so I can take a swig," she said.
Bob replied, "Beer is better with pizza. I have cold beer at home. Then after we finish you can make Rum Boilermakers."
"What's that?" she asked. "What's a Rum Boilermaker?"
"A shot of Rum, followed by a swig of Beer to wash it down." He told her, "It just makes the Rum go down smoother that's all.
"It just goes down so much smoother! It takes off the edge off the pure Rum. Washes it down so to speak."
"OK," she said. "Rum Boilermakers it is."
The pizza shop Bob often used was one of the rare places that had a Drive-In Window. To use it, you had to have an automatic billing account and you had give them a permission slip, sort of like a contract, to use your credit card for automatic billing.
No cash went in, nor change out of the window. Long ago they had a problem with kids calling, ordering for pickup and pies wasted.
He trusted them, their pizza was great and he had been using them for years. His pizza was waiting when he pulled up to the window. For regular customers they offered a free topping.
He didn't have to tell them anymore which topping he wanted. He was such a regular customer and always asked for mushrooms. All he had to say was, "My Regular Pizza."
When she asked why he didn't have to pay, Bob, just to make it easily understandable, explained he had an account there. "It is great to not have to worry about paying every time," he said as he handed her the box.
"Mushrooms. Cool!" she said opening it, grabbed a slice, wolfing down in a second flat. Then she grabbed a second piece.
Bob laughed. "I guess you were hungry."
"Yeah, thanks. I actually haven't eaten in two days!" she told him.
"Oh. Sorry," he replied. Then as he approached his place, he wondered to himself if she had a place to sleep, a bed to lie in, even somewhere to live.
Bob lived in a one bedroom apartment. He lived frugally and truly didn't have much, except a heart.
When they got into his place, Bob told her to go sit down at the kitchen table and he'd get some cold beer for them to drink with their pizza.
She sat down. Bob reached for a couple of plates, got two cans of beer from the fridge and set everything down on the table.
She immediately took the beer, popped it open and took a healthy swig. She let out a very unfeminine, five second, beer-belch and laughed. "I needed that," she said.
.... There is more of this story ...