Nancy took the job at the new liquor store to supplement her shitty government salary. The liquor store allowed her to work weekends and in the evenings after leaving her regular job—only a two-minute walk from one to the other. Every morning when she walked from her car to her office, she would see the same cast of characters posted up in front of the gray-and-beige county government building, which was situated only a few blocks from the homeless mission . . .
Tater. His real name was Willam Francis McKinny III, but he got the name Tater because he was about as useless as a potato on legs when he drank. His best friend Nick Plakowitz named him that soon after the two of them started stealing Jim Beam from Nick’s dad’s liquor locker in the basement that was set up like a pool hall. Nick poured water in the square booze bottle so his dad wouldn’t know.
Tater said, “He’s gonna know.”
“Nah, he don’t want to deal with it. He too busy with that paint business of his.”
Tater shrugged. Nick’s dad never said a word . . .
I spill coffee on the bed. The white quilt is stained.
How can I fix this? I tiptoe up the stairs to their kitchen, soak a wad of paper towels in the sink. I go back down the stairs, rub the paper towels into the stain. I scrub and scrub. The sun is rising; the stain is not. I lay back down on the bed. Hopelessness . . .
This is axiomatic. This is easy. The hard part comes when you have to say, hello I am an. My name is and I am an. I am alcohol. I am an alcohol named and I am an. Well, we are not Saints . . .
Mrs. O’Connor liked Burger King because it was cheap. When I arrived the next day, she was putting on makeup and drinking Coca-Cola from a large glass. “I’m almost ready,” she said. “That’s good,” I answered, “because I hate going into Mass late.” “I always love to go places late,” she said. “I hate to be on time . . .”
It was one of those days when the snow started and wouldn’t quit, so we bought beers and drank them and didn’t stop until long after dark and anyway, we were out. The apartment seemed all stained and yellow and stank of rancid burger grease. The snow just kept coming. We needed escape . . .
I met her at work. I was five years younger than her, and shy. She always smiled, was loud and outspoken . . .
10. If you can count backwards from 10, you are not drunk . . .