Thursday, November 20, 2008

No More Credit At The Liquor Store

Today and tomorrow -- "Spanish Trace." Saturday pictures from the town I love and Sunday I return to my usual rant and rave. Thanks for reading!

Lori decided we’d have a party to celebrate the turning of the seasons. She planned it for the weekend of Halloween, which was a long weekend for Ft. Worth Country Day. I suggested we do a costume party and that my old band Head Cleaner could play some blues, but she gave me a look that suggested my old band would not be playing. She had loved Head Cleaner when she heard them years ago. She gave me a withering look that suggested I grow up and grow up fast. I had seen that expression from my jerk of a father all my life.

“My friends don’t wear costumes,” she said.

“Maybe they could start.”

“Are you going to be an asshole?” Lori asked.

The honeymoon appeared to be over.

Lori left to pick up food for the party, and I sat around trying to get drunk. I was missing Melody, feeling lonely and strung-out. I didn’t want to be here, bored as shit by a bunch of people who would sit and talk about teaching. I didn’t have one goddamn thing to say to any of them. I took some more slugs and decided to leave for the day while Lori got ready. I wrote her a note telling her that I was going to clean out the rest of my apartment and booked.

When I got into my truck, I turned on the radio and old Rick Nelson sang “Garden Party.” I felt as if the bastard were coming back from the grave to tell me that I would never be able to please Lori, and I ought to give up trying. I drove to Mr. C’s and bought a six-pack of Lone Star and some cashews in a bag. Then I drove around trying not to look like I was driving around drinking beer and eating cashews. I went to the Trace and sat down on my one last chair and took a look around the place. I didn’t have the foresight not to have the electricity turned off, so I had to sit around in the dark, the heart of Indian Summer, sweating and wondering if a cold spell would hit. I knew it wouldn’t hit soon enough to make it bearable.

“What the hell happened to you?” Lori said.

I tripped into our house wearing a leg immobilizer and crutches. I didn’t want Lori to know that I had been drinking. I needed an alibi, for not having done any work and being gone all day. Sitting around the Trace, I decided to pretend I’d been in an accident. I felt glad that I had gotten rid of the stuff from the first accident. Maybe she would remember how she had loved me then.

“I fell down the stairs at the Trace.”

“I thought there was only a bottom floor,” she said.

“I mean by the office. I tried to turn in my key, but it was closed and I turned and tripped.”

“Are you okay? How did you get the brace?” Lori crushed avocados, turning them into
guacamole. I loved her guacamole. One more thing to miss if I left.

“I drove to the emergency room.” I held out an old bottle of painkillers I’d been hoarding from a root canal. I hoped she didn’t take them out of my hands and look at the date.

“Have you been drinking?” Lori asked. She took a lemon and started to squeeze it in the dip. It keeps the guacamole from getting discolored from the air. The color didn’t make any difference to the taste, but she claimed that looking at brown guacamole did not make anyone feel happy.

“What makes you say that, honey?”

“I don’t see how you could have fallen down the stairs.”

“I was tired, okay? I work long hours.”

“You wouldn’t have to work so hard if you got another job teaching.”

“I don’t want another job. I want to go rest.”

“Don’t take the painkillers if you’ve been drinking.”

It made me feel real bad when she said that because that’s how my mother died. Not that Lori knows that. She thinks that she died in her sleep from alcohol poisoning. I don’t know why I left the painkiller part out of the story when I told her, I just did. My mother took some of my granddad’s muscle relaxants and drank part of a bottle of wine, passed out mid-sentence, got put to bed by friends, and stopped breathing in the middle of the night. She’d been mixing stuff for years, but it must have been the exact wrong dose that night. It felt like the type of disaster our family had been watching for years had hit us. I never thought it would, the way you feel when you’re driving and you see a car on the side of the road and you thank God it isn’t you, although someday it will be. And it always is.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The real beauty of the question -- how do we become who we are? -- is that by the time we are old enough to ask it, it is too late to do much about it. That is not the sorrow of hindsight, but its music: That is what grants us a bearable past." Gail Caldwell

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: A Strong West Wind Gail Caldwell

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!


Charles Gramlich said...

"Have you been drinking?" Crueler words were never said.

Party number one tells an interesting story too. Not quite as clear cut.

the walking man said...

"that I had" hadn't?

Mark seems to be being pushed in directions he has no idea of, no simple north, south, east, or west here. By the compass maybe west by north north west or some such other rigidly defined compass point.

Tim said...

I've been looking forward to each installment of this story Michelle. You have a knack for capturing underlying emotions and hidden problems in relationships and writing about them in a way in which we readers can relate.

Scott said...


Very good once again.