D is for Drink
It was two o’clock in the afternoon when Joe woke. One eye was swollen shut, and his head felt like a hammer was banging against it. “I need a drink ,” he grumbled and struggled to his feet. For the moment, he didn’t think about Rowena or Sara. He wasn’t interested in where they’d gone or when they’d be back. His only thought was to get a drink and stop the pounding in his head.
Stan’s Bar was two blocks over. Stan opened early, and Stan made a damn good drink. Joe needed a Bloody Mary , and he needed it now. He looked around the parking lot. The truck was gone. “Bitch,” he grumbled, believing Rowena responsible.
Stan’s wasn’t that far; he could make it on foot. Joe started walking. Not so much walking, but just pushing one foot in front of the other and shuffling along. Twice he had to stop and lean against a lamppost to rest, but moments later he went back to moving his feet in the direction of Stan’s Bar.
It took Joe forty minutes to get there, and by the time he arrived his throat felt parched and his head pounded like a kettledrum. He lumbered to the door, grabbed the handle, and pulled. The door didn’t budge. He pulled again and again, then kicked the door and pounded with his fists. Nobody answered. When the throbbing in his head became unbearable, he picked up an empty trashcan from the street and hurled it through the glass window. While the bits and pieces of glass were still raining down, Joe stepped through the window and headed for the bar. He was tipping a whiskey bottle to his mouth when the police arrived.
~ ~ ~
Judge Barker was the law in Mackinaw, the only law. He was the one who said what was fair and not fair and he doled out punishment as he saw fit. Stan was the judge’s brother-in-law.
Joe’s head still throbbed the next day when the judge banged his gavel and said, “Fifteen days for drunk and disorderly conduct. And,” the judge added, “it’ll be a whole lot longer if you don’t fork over the money to pay for Stan’s window.”
“Screw Stan!” Joe yelled. “Screw the window! ” But by then the officer was dragging him out of the courtroom.
~ ~ ~
Joe didn’t have the money to pay for Stan’s window so his fifteen days became three weeks of sitting in the Mackinaw jailhouse. For the first five days it was pure hell. His stomach convulsed every time he thought of food, and he couldn’t hold on to a cup of coffee because of his hands shaking. Twice he managed to slosh a few sips of the sludge, but both times he gagged and threw up more than he’d swallowed.
After the first five days, the hell settled into a day in/ day out misery. A misery he didn’t deserve . Getting drunk was a poor excuse for throwing a man in jail, he reasoned. On any given Friday, half the men in Mackinaw got drunk. Of course, those men went home and found their woman in bed where she belonged. Joe started thinking back on why he was in jail. That’s when he came to the conclusion it was Rowena’s fault.
For the entire three weeks Joe cursed her. If not for her, he wouldn’t be here. If Rowena wasn’t playing a smart-ass cat-and-mouse game, he wouldn’t have had to search under the bed. He wouldn’t have fallen. He wouldn’t have needed a drink to nurse the pain in his head.