It was a dark place full of shadows and regret. Dim lights created enough illumination to navigate the space, but not to illuminate life. The brightest spotlights reflected off the bottles and mirrors behind the polished bar, creating an oasis of beauty, an illusion of hope. Just one more drink should do it…
Two men, nondescript in the dimness, sat at that oasis, each seeking comfort of their own. The bartender approached the one on his left, whose glass was nearly empty. “Ready for another, Mac?”
“Mac” picked up his glass and studied it for a moment. “Hmm…,” he thought aloud. “No. No, barkeep, I think I’ll switch it up. Bring me a Corona instead!”
“A Corona?,” asked the bartender. “Since when do you drink that crap?”
“Since right now,” the unnamed regular “Mac” responded. “I’ve been seeing these ads on tv. Every time something ‘good’ happens, ‘a Corona gets its lime.’ I need something good to happen to me. Maybe this will help.”
“Suit yourself, Mac,” the bartender smiled. “I’m all for supporting positive change!”
“Hey, I’ve seen those ads, too,” the other unnamed regular added, not so completely isolated as he had at first appeared. “Kind of like the idea that every time a bell rings…”
“… an angel gets their wings!,” all three chorused together.
The other regular rose from his bar stool and stumbled down to sit next to “Mac.” “I think I want to try one of them Coronas, too,” he said to the bartender. “I could sure use some ‘good’ in my life.”
“First round is on the house,” the bartender announced. “We can’t usually give this stuff away, and if it helps you gentlemen out, that would be a good thing in itself!”
The second man smiled crookedly. “Looks like my luck is changing already,” he slurred happily. Turning toward his new drinking buddy, he tried to start a conversation with Mac.
“So… what brings you here on this sunny afternoon?,” he asked sloppily.
Chuckling softly, Mac responded with questions of his own. “Oh, is it sunny outside today? Is it afternoon already?”
“Ummm,” the other drunk replied. “According to my phone it is, indeed, both. Weather app says the sun is shining, and the clock says 3:15,” he explained, quite seriously. “And they must call it a ‘smart’ phone for some reason…,” he added.
Mac laughed. “LOL!!,” he said, enjoying his own humor. “At least one of us knows what’s what!”
His demeanor darkened a bit… “My wife left this morning. Says she isn’t coming back.”
“Ohhh, dude, sorry!,” his companion commiserated. “I remember that day myself. Said she’d had enough of my drinking, and just walked right out…”. He was quiet for a moment, lost in that memory. “Y’know, I don’t think she ever looked back,” he added sadly.
Mac studied his drinking buddy for a long breath. “Yeah… don’t think mine will either. How do you get used to being alone?”
“Ahhh, that!,” the other drunk answered with a sad chuckle. “Not so hard to do when you focus on the positive: completely guilt free drinking!,” he explained, raising his bottle in a drunken salute.
“Completely?,” Mac asked. “You don’t seem completely free at all…,” he added wisely, being just a tad less drunk than his companion.
“Yeah… well close enough for me,” the other man snapped testily.
Silence ensued as each man sipped his beer and settled in his misery… After a while, Mac took up the conversation again.
“Have you ever been to AA?,” he asked the other drunk.
“You mean the auto club?,” his buddy responded, confusion clouding his expression. “Is that even a real place? I kinda thought that was just a phone number to call when you got stranded in your car…”
“No, no, no,” laughed Mac. “I’m talking about the meetings you go to when you want to stop drinking. They meet all over town, mostly in churches. A bunch of ex-drunks helping current drunks to get sober.”
The unnamed one looked at Mac astonished. “Why would any self-respecting drunk do that?!,” he asked sincerely.
“Umm… maybe because most drunks aren’t self-respecting at all,” he answered honestly. “I went,” he added. “A few times. It was kinda cool, actually…”
Shaking his head in disbelief, Mac’s new friend disagreed. “Nope. Can’t even imagine how a bunch of Bible totin’ ex-drunks trying to change me could be cool. Not in this Universe or any other!”
Laughing outright, Mac responded. “Nah, man, they’re not like that at all! Once you get past the ‘program’ crap, they’re all really kinda like us. They tell great stories. Relatable, you know?”
“Hey, I think there might be one tonight, just down the street. We could go check it out, and you’ll see what I mean.”
His companion turned a bewildered gaze his way. “But we’re drunk, Dude! Isn’t that kinda against the rules?”
“Not really, man,” Mac responded seriously. “So long as we’re not disr… distrupt… disrup… As long as we just sit and listen, they won’t throw us out.”
The other drunk tipped his bottle to stare into its light amber depths. “This stuff looks like piss,” he commented. “Kinda tastes like it, too!” Turning to face Mac he added. “Why not? I could use a good story, and maybe a laugh or two.”
Mac slapped him on the shoulders like an old friend. “Let’s go then! We should leave now, though, since I’m just drunk enough to make finding this meeting difficult!”
Stepping out into the late afternoon sunlight, both men covered their eyes against the sudden brightness. Leaning into one another for support, they stumbled blindly down the sidewalk. The other drunk turned toward Mac and spoke sincerely. “Hey, Dude, I don’t even know your real name!”
Laughing, Mac responded, “just call me Corona today.”
His companion smiled. “Cool! Then I can be Lime! ‘Cause, you know, every time sumthin’ good happens…”
“… a Corona gets its Lime!,” they chorused together as they stumbled into the street.
They never even saw the bus that hit them, or felt the pain of bones breaking…
And across the street at a little gift shop, two chimes began ringing in the chaos that ensued. Two distinctively different tones, unheard behind the shouting and the sobbing and the sirens…
My contribution for this month’s #BlogBattles. 😁