The Countdown

The imprint of night left a dull look on his face. No longer was he excited by the stars, moon, gray clouds moving in, the blackness of the sky. And, he was no longer enthused by the beauty of day light; this golden sun meant nothing to him. Often he’d look up at it and wish it to go away, disappear, leaving a blank slate in space, perhaps stone, or a giant chalkboard. Something to write ,or, color on. Maybe drawing pictures of how life was long ago before he lost interest in it.

And now he would fill his days with drink. Occasionally he’d have a meal or two during the week, but, for the most part it was a steady diet of cheap beer and gin; little bottles he purchased at the liquor store with his dimes and quarters, pennies, folded up dollar bills. This was his decision. A decision made long ago.

He’d stand on the sidewalk wearing shit-stained pants, a coat that barely fit, and a wool cap atop his wrinkled ruddy face. The old man would ask passersby for change, a couple of bucks, Christians felt bad for telling him no while others scoffed at him, telling him to get a job, change his pants, take a bath. He would say, God bless you, then move aside for the living to walk past.

But, once a month was his lucky day. The eagle flew on that day, a check mailed to a Psychologist with his name on it would appear. It was his Social Security check for $783.00. He kept a paper calendar in his front pocket with days marked off, knowing exactly when he could cash it and where.

So, on this day he first bought a brand new pair of pants and underwear along with a new shirt. Then the short fellow would go to the mission in town where he would shower. They’d ask him, How’s your relationship with Christ?, he assured them it was fine. He promised the ministers that this month would be different. He’d find a job, bath, a place to live, he would even stop drinking. But, this was not to be.

One good meal and a cocktail won’t hurt, he said to himself as he sat at the bar drinking a gin and tonic. He squeezed the lime into his mouth and laughed. Didn’t see the harm in another.

The clock on the wall said 3:00. It was closing time. His money was dwindling. He then went to the fanciest hotel in town where he stayed two nights and enjoyed room service and more drinks; kegs were bought and he drank them.

Then, it struck him as he looked down at his last few dollars. Things would soon be back to normal. And, the countdown continued.

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