Strangers

I saw a man this morning in a dead sprint down the highway carrying a baseball bat, and though I wondered about his crusade (it was surely nothing less), I didn’t dare speculate. Maybe he was the leadoff guy for a sour ass fast-pitch team with the 9 am slating and he knew that, without him, they were dead bones by noon. Maybe his son was the actual leadoff guy, in the shit with the dented TPX (the only other bat in the dugout light enough for him to get around with) and he thought his father his hero.

My brother bought a bottle while he was at work today and had to hide it behind a tree because he couldn’t fit it under his motorcycle seat. Now we have to go retrieve it.

Life is fun sometimes.

It gets so hard sometimes.

I remember a Saturday morning about ten years ago, toting a blanket and a pillow with vomit on it fifteen blocks to a Burger King where my car was parked, wondering what all the cars passing by me were thinking.

A lack of self-awareness may be the true beginning of wisdom.

I tend to see myself through every pair of eyes in the room, and that’s fucked up. While I’m seeing myself see myself, I’m also seeing myself see the investor see the producer seeing me seeing myself, and how can I possibly talk about what I’m supposed to be talking about in the midst of something like this happening? Confounded

I once saw a man out in the Texas panhandle pulled over on an on-ramp. He was being handcuffed by a highway patrolman with a shotgun resting on his hood with his windshield blown out.

There was once a guy in the checkout line buying a single rose and twelve long-stem condoms.

There was once a guy carrying a jug of bleach and a dozen roses past the shoe aisle at the back of a Wal-Mart.

You’ve been there; I know you have.

Who hasn’t purchased an orange and comb at 3 am?

The checker man has seen it all. You can’t get to him anymore.

The remainder of us can only laugh; we shake our heads. We speculate with our newly gathered ammunition for the day. And thank God. We keep life spicy, don’t we?

No one will ever understand; we just leave our two-seventy-five in pennies on the counter and duck back out the door to pump seven hoping we will never actually see any of these people again.

The highway is far too long for silly questions like why, and far too many of us have far too much distance to cover in far too little time to answer the questions anyway.

Final Things

The look in her eye said something about love, but it said more about longing. It spoke of the weight left over from the loss of true love’s weightlessness. Where she had once been like a feather, she now stood stone-still, weeping against weight of its memory, of separateness, the cool breeze blowing against her wet face and chilling her to her soul.

On the other side of the motel room door at her back was the man her age. They had been in the same class way back in high school. He had looked at her from across the room of the Chemistry class they had shared, all those years ago, across all the pages of numbers and equations and things that made mathematical sense. Her parents were rich and sophisticated; his belonged to the lower middle class, and where her parents drank wine occasionally with their dinners, his father drank beer every night to get drunk.

With tears rolling down his face and neck, he turned and looked through the peephole to catch the parting shot of her now walking away from him forever. The visual would stay with him in his mind: her flowing hair, the clouds in the darkening sky pregnant with rain, the pine trees across the road winding around the bend and shooting off into the rumbling distance…

She had only been in town for two hours; long enough to drop off with him the photo album she had borrowed so long ago. Long enough to share the embrace of a moment of love beneath the summer-weight sheets on the bed which now lay on the floor in a heap. Long enough to grasp back the piece of his soul he felt had finally been returned to him from so long ago: something to remember him by.

He cracked the tab on his final beer, the 16-ounce, the pounder, the Rocky Mountain Piss, the last silver bullet. He didn’t know what he would do next. Maybe he would take the room key back to the sweltering little office and slide it back across the counter, or maybe he would take a bath first. All he knew was that, even though this was the last beer he had, and even though it might well be the last beer he would ever have—even though he may yet weep shameful tears in its memory, he heard his father say to him one final time from across the eternal chasm of years gone by: “Even the last beer is better than no beer at all.”

Mr. Wine Speaks

In my dreams, I’m in my living room on a quiet afternoon, coming apart at the seams. I’m not really doing much. It starts to rain. The rain falls in a sheet, hitting the windows, crashing against the side of the house. It’s a downpour, this rain, and it’s accompanied by thunder and lightning.

I walk outside and find that the rain is actually beer falling down from the sky. Imagine the surprise of a man who needs a beer but can’t afford one. Now I have buckets of beer and not enough room to store it all.

I think back to the book of Malachi from my youth: “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

I guess in the dream I had brought the whole of my tithe into the storehouse, though I question.

I think back to my grandfather, who was outspoken against the use of alcohol (as far as I knew) his entire life. After he died, a few of us were out cleaning his garage, just going through his stuff, when we found a gallon of what smelled like raw ass whisky. My brother tasted it; the tests have come back favoring the positive. It was homemade to say the least.

I can’t prove that it was his, but come on… Everyone needs a sip of the juice now and then, don’t they?

For Christ’s sake, even Jesus turned water into wine. Some observant motherfucker [at the wedding party] said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Go fucking figure: The Christ-head strikes against the running out of booze.

The wine rests its case.

I actually heard a guy say once that his kid asked him, “Dad, why do you drink beer?” The guy said, “Actually…I can’t tell you. You will just have to wait [and find out for yourself]” (seemed to be the unspoken sentiment).

I’m not sure there is a moral to any of this.

The moral might be: Beer makes us feel good. It’s the juice of the gods, after all. Drink it if you would be comfortable in your own skin. If you are already comfortable in your own skin, hell, maybe you will one day rule the world…maybe beer can help you in that. As a buddy of mine would say, “Either way, it don’t make a fuck.” He was probably drunk when he said it.

Have a beer, I guess. Maybe you will understand at least some of what I’m talking about.

When they “bury” me one day, they’ll toss my ashes off the Budweiser deck into the left field meadow of some obscure ball park in the mid-west, and if I’m lucky, I will be stuck in the minors for eternity. At least I’ll never have to say, “Here’s to one more season in the sun.” Or maybe I will say it every year. Who the hell cares anyway, and what is the difference?

If you have a few beers every day, I can tell you this about your life: You will always have something to look forward to, no matter how bad is any day, and in the end, you will have been right smart and jolly for having drank them.

Perspective is God in a koala suit, after all. You might die quite young, yes. You may fly too close to the sun, yes. But goddam it, hot is hot.

If you can see through all the blather and the bullshit, you might be the next on the list for a meeting with Mr. Goldblatt, and I’d envy the hell out of you for it.

Give him my best, but I can’t help you from there.

He’ll give you a brew, or maybe he’ll offer you the righteous pull from the little bottle he keeps in the inner pocket of his smoking jacket (I’m assuming he still wears one). But even if he doesn’t, you’ll be more prepared for what comes next.

And should sobriety one day come knocking at your door, you’ll always have the memories of the times when the bottle made you everything you’d ever dreamed of becoming.

And if they ever tell you you love too much or too dearly, tell them the following: The wine has spoken.