The Drunk

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9pm Last Night – And so it came to pass. I was drunk in a village pub with a rich ex-Olympic Heavyweight Wrestler whom I’d never met before. His ears were two ravaged lumps of gristle and his nose had been broken a few times. He was heavy set, fierce looking, about 50yrs old. I’d made the mistake of talking to him at the bar. Now we were five hours into the drink and talking about what made Boxers tough. Why any of that mattered does, right now, remain a mystery. We talked and laughed loud, like you can when you know there isn’t a single guy in the place who would be crazy enough to interject.

At a table behind us, a guy who owned the local Mystical Crystal shop seemed different when I glanced at him over the top of a beer. I looked again. I hadn’t seen him for a month. His face. Fuck. From both corners of his mouth ran a downward line, making him look like an old ventriloquist’s dummy. His grey hair was the same, same black leather jacket. But his chin was gone. Removed. A big fluid-filled bulge the size of a grapefruit was gathered on one side of his neck underneath his left jaw. He sucked on a drink with difficulty, holding the glass in both hands and taking great care as his top lip drooped on down into the beer. Jesus. The poor fucker. I guessed it was cancer. I tried to picture him with his jaw back in place, but couldn’t.

I left late. Drunk. Made it up the hill with my missus, then into bed and spent the night in bad dreams cut with wake-ups to go and piss. In the morning my head felt like a thousand cacti were rolling around inside. I felt old, sad, and couldn’t stop thinking about the Crystal guy and his gone chin. He was feeling much worse than me this morning, I knew that much. I made toast, drank tea, tried to avoid the News on the TV, realised I’d run out of Pregabalin and wouldn’t be able to get more until Wednesday. Meaning the headache’ll just get worse until then. Another shitty little withdrawal to do because of my own incompetence. Problems. Problems. But not like Crystal guy. Nowhere near.

What can I learn from this? Anything? I’m not taking up MMA, or smoking, for sure, but is there any deeper point to any of last night? I guess I’m still too hungover to work it out and, man, my head is really starting to bang. There but for the grace of…something something? Is that the message? Don’t count your chickens? Don’t stare at recently disfigured cancer sufferers? Don’t engage in tough-out booze sessions with Wrestlers who talk wildly about the plans for their next birthday party – midgets serving drinks from silver trays, unlimited champagne, indoor pools, horror – and accept the invitation? O Lord, what foul things you showed me last night, and what lessons I can’t figure out today, or maybe ever. Give me guidance…….  No answer. No spiritual direction from anyone or anything. Next time the dumb thumb of fate grinds me into situations like this  I’m calling on the ghost of Bill Hicks. He’ll know what it all means.

Oh, and I’m giving up drinking – again.

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