Prose – Athlete, Temple, Bottle – JG

He started off early; nursed at the bottle soon after leaving his mother’s breast. It was his daily routine, his beverage of choice with every meal, (especially when that meal was sorrow), and the significant other in his longest relationship to date. He knew booze better than his own parents – Daddy left for work and never returned, and Mommy burned herself out and away, soul and body, trying to provide for him, her little son. Her shining sun, the only man she’d ever trust again and the only one who counts. She never counted all the glasses, all the cans, all the caps, all the bottles.
So everyday he traded a bit more of himself away in exchange for the numbness of his favorite depressant never accomplishing more than the minimum, content to be just another alcoholic bum who’s a parasite on the ones who love them. He loved no one but his other half. Half was of course a generous estimation of the amount of himself in that unit; alcohol was the dominant, the leader, the decision maker, if you will. Really, all he was required to do was drink. And drink more. It was his hobby, habit, religion, purpose, guide, strength, weakness, reason, sport, devotion, point, function, etcetera et all. Especially that all part.
Needless to say he was a tragically useless waste of a human being and the world became a little less burdened upon his death. Because yes, that’s where this story really begins – with an ending. Mr. Waste Of Space, whose real name is really not noteworthy or memorable, thought that it was a day quite like any other: waking at the obese ass crack of three in the afternoon, stealing money from under his mother’s mattress where she kept her ’emergency’ fund, and heading off to the liquor store. The liquor store which was by no means innocent in this fiasco; they had been serving him underage for years before his 21st and were a complete enabler of his terrible lifestyle, giving him ‘preferred customer’ discounts because hey, once a liquor store has made you an addict, they have a regular for life. Your life, naturally.
Anyways, back to the story:
In his rush, and by rush I more imply his impatience in attitude than actual physical haste in movement, to get to booze and deteriorate himself further, Mr. Waste cut off one little old widower on the left hand exit of the three lane highway closest to the liquor store. This led to the small elderly fellow with the late wife pulling off the highway and cursing the youth of American he fought to protect in The War. This man is not relevant in this story. He has his own story for another time. What is relevant is that by cutting him off, Mr. Waste shaved an extra minute off his drive thus depositing himself at his final destination right on schedule.
As he walked in, eager and excited, his addiction close to being sated, he bumped into a well built man on his way out. Tall, light, and handsome, this aesthetically pleasing blonde stranger paused to apologize but found his co-collider had already moved onto things with a higher proof. Peculiarly enough, that is also what the athlete was searching for: Proof of a higher power. Proof of a higher purpose. Proof of a higher something. And while he didn’t think you could find something greater by lowering yourself to an inebriated state, he did think he needed to stop thinking for awhile. A little bourbon seemed an easy and pleasant way to accomplish this, alas it was not to be, as all that sweet honey colored oblivion poured smoothly out and away from the broken glass at his feet.
Its pretty twinkling and mixture of colors reminded him satisfyingly of stained glass windows in Catholic churches and the other temples of worship he had frequented lately in his quest. He was of the age to decide for himself and he couldn’t help but confess that life was much easier when his parents were forcing their values upon him and obedience was nonnegotiable.
He contemplated confronting the rude Mr. Waste or simply buying more. Then he considered that maybe this was a sign from the higher whatever it may be that alcohol is not the way. He conceded that if this was some sort of signal it was rather vague and who could really blame him for getting the message a bit muddled. Perhaps God was just a beer man and thought bourbon was a poor choice.
As if hearing his conflicted inner struggle, in the instant the athlete decided to buy a different type of alcohol, Mr. Waste lost his balance. Years of drinking had made him a master of the drunken shuffle walk/fall/slide but to his detriment, he was utterly sober; a state he found himself unfamiliar with. He reached out, grasped a shelf and even with his considerable girth managed to stay upright for a few seconds more. Then, as that frozen moment thawed, gravity and reality kicked in and the entire shelving unit surrendered their hopeless cause of staying where they were. A domino effect was created causing chaos and massive loss of inventory.
Lost was all the beer, wine, and liquor. Lost was one valued customer. Lost was one man’s battle with theism.
When the police arrived and asked the store manager what happened all he could do was burst into tears and look to the sky asking The Powers That Be ‘Why?’.
When the police arrived and asked the blonde what happened all he could do was burst into tears and look to the sky and yell out ‘Message received!’ .

And thusly did Mr. Waste manage to do one thing in his meaningless life that most of us will never succeed at: He gave someone else definitive evidence of meaning.

Jessie Gutierrez

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