I woke up alone, as I have for so many years. I had a splitting headache, it hurt like almighty hell. I just felt generally like total shit. Its what we call, in America, a hangover.
Wrenching my eyes open, I looked around the room. It was a small dingy hotel room in a rundown hotel in Philly. My eyes heart. My head hurt. My body hurt. I grabbed the bottle of Plymouth Gin, and found, to my horror, that it was empty. I scavenged through the bottles on the floor. They were empty, too.
You'd think that out of the three bottles I brought home last night, at least one of them would have enough left to give me the strength to go and buy some more. I went to my emergency supply, I keep in my suitcase. It was gone. How could it be gone? I brought back four bottles last night. And there were three on the floor.
Then it dawned through my fog- yeah, and there was a fourth on the night table.
I frantically searched through the room. I found a bottle of very cheap vodka. I ripped off the cap, and swigged it to my lips, and took a few great swallows. It burned like almighty hell going down. And then I felt very sick. I just made it to the bathroom in time to throw up. I felt better. A little better.
It was sunday, and it was early morning. There was no way the Wine & Spirits Shoppe down the street would be open this early. I went out the door and down the stairs to Nat's room. I knocked on the door, and she opened it. She looked at me, as she always did, with both happiness and sadness.
I loved her. She wasn't the greatest prize in the book- for one thing she was a part time whore and full time stripper. But it was different between us. We loved each other. Proof? I didn't have to pay her. I accepted, as much as I didn't like it, what she was.
"I'm sorry, Nat," I said dully, "Its so early and I'm-"
"Here, Yevin," she said, handing me a bottle of Seagram's Extra Dry Gin. I grabbed a high-ball glass, poured six fingers in, and tossed it back. It was ok going down. I felt it hit my stomach, and I felt better. A lot better. I drank some more. And a little more.
After a few drinks, Nat took the bottle out of my hand, and led me over to the bed. She undid my shirt and pants, and laid me down on the bed. She had only been wearing panties, herself. I hadn't noticed. I guess I needed the drink too badly to notice that.
I can't imagine how you don't notice, even if you're unconscious. She was a little Mexican knock-out. Great ass, thin waist, nice boobs, cute face. Nice luscious black hair, worn long.
She lay down next to me and cuddled me. I felt tears dripping on me. That felt bad, so I let the alcohol take over the situation. I became lost in thought.
It hadn't always been like this. Once it hadn't been anything like this at all. I started out from College with a BSBA, and started a small flea market business selling Gyro's and the like from a food stand. We started out selling at Willingboro, then moved out to Tacony-Palmyra, to Cowtown, and eventually opening up a permanent stand at the Reading Terminal Market in Philly. It was there that I met my wife, who was fresh out of college, about 10 years younger then me.
I wasn't Greek, despite my choice of food. I was a Russian immigrant who came into the country as a pre-teen in the late 80s. With the four stands, I was doing alright. My wife, unlike me, was a Greek immigrant, although she had come over when she was quite young.
The path to a mans heart is through his stomach, and this woman could cook. She really really could cook. We fell deeply in love, over a period of about six months, and got engaged. I was making pretty decent money. I mean really decent money. We got married, and we bought, outright, a nice 4 bedroom colonial house in a boring little development in Cherry Hill. It was the kind of thing I personally hated, but my wife wanted something just like that. I capitulated.
Helena was a wonderful and warm woman, but also highly intelligent and very ambitious. She graduated from college Magna Cum Laude, and went right into Princeton Law School. She graduated, passed the bar exam on her first try, and went into practice with a top-notch Philadelphia law firm.
As soon as she passed the exam, we started trying for kids, and succeeded- twice. Once the second child was born, we hired a housekeeper to keep house and watch the children since we both worked full time.
I opened up another location at Rice's, and then decided that we had gone far enough to open up a restaurant. So we opened up a restaurant called Helena & Yevin's Piece Of Greece. We celebrated by buying a bigger, nicer house in Princeton, an old mansion of considerable beauty. I thought we'd just keep doing better and better.
That was the height of my life. Everything was absolutely, utterly, perfect. I had a beautiful wife who loved me, a wonderful son and a cute as a button daughter, an increasingly large corporation known for its food, and a lovely mansion in one of the nicest communities in the country. Paradise. It couldn't get any better than this, and it didn't.
When life is going along perfectly, wait for the other shoe to fall. I forgot this salient point, unfortunately.
On paper, I was very wealthy. We bought the house in Princeton outright for several million bucks. I had the five flea market stands, which standard business valuation would have figured, at that time, to be worth about $7 million if I sold them. And I had the restaurant, whose building I owned, worth a million or so all by itself.
What I didn't have practically any of at that point, was cash. That's a welcome to the business world thing. Most people who are in the process of growing businesses have very little cash. When it comes in you spend it on expanding.
The other foot came crashing down in the form of the 2007 economic turmoil. First of all, Willingboro died, and I spent way too much time and money holding on hoping the market would pick up. I eventually closed the stand, but not after dumping several hundred thousand down it. Then Tacony went into a death spiral, and I did the same thing. Cowtown, which had been faltering even before that, crashed and burned at around the same time. Rices started going bad, too.
And like I said, I had no loose capital. One year, I'm free and clear on everything, and making money so fast, I almost got sick of counting the stuff. The next thing I know, my restaurant in Philly is mortgaged to the hilt, as is my house. I took some secured business loans on the Reading Terminal stand, too.
And then the mortgage crisis came. Business almost came to a halt, I had nowhere else to borrow from- and they wouldn't lend it to me even if I did- both the house and the restaurant were underwater. We were surviving on my wife's income alone, and barely.
When we got kicked out of our house in Princeton and had to move into a tiny two-bedroom apartment as I declared bankruptcy, well, that was the last straw. My wife and I never combined our assets, because, well, we never had to. And thank god that we didn't, because the bankruptcy ruined me totally, and since she still made good money, well, we could pull through.
I got monumentally depressed. I soon found comfort in the great product of the Blackfriars Distillery- Plymouth gin. It calmed my nerves, strengthened my spirit, and improved my constitution. That was when I was drinking half a bottle a day.