Mom went in to have surgery on her hip for the fourth time last summer. Doctors never could get it right. It seemed as though the replacement never set. She was in constant pain. The old woman would lay there in a nursing home bed and agonize over her discomfort for hours: begging for morphine, some kind of pain killer. They were reluctant to give her anything heavy. Wound up with Extra Strength Tylenol. It just wouldn’t do the trick.

Her son would bring special packages to her. Bottles placed in brown paper bags. Scotch, whiskey, one shooters of Fire Ball, wine coolers, alcoholic ciders. He’d stand over the old woman and watch as she drank it down in a couple of gulps then carefully remove the bottles from her room. She ate mints, chewed on em, but the staff knew she was drunk. They could still smell it on her. They started giving her breath tests and piss quizes. Got to the point where they’d ask to check everything brought to her. That’s when the boy stopped visiting her. Said there was no point to it. In his mind he’d done his task. Now it was up to God.

She called him every day. Asking him to pack a bottle down his pants. Said nobody would know. The mother would beg the boy to bring a pint of Rumplemintz, or, some kind of cheap vodka. He would tell her no and hang up the phone then go back to watching television talk shows about couples cheating on each other and unwanted pregnancies.

That’s what’s wrong with America, he’d say to himself. No morals. Just a bunch of people messing around with each other. Screwing or killing, he said. That’s what we do best; screw and kill, he popped open another beer. And of course, the phone rang again. He checked the name on the screen. Greystone Nursing Home, it read. He knew it was her. Couldn’t have been a doctor. It was mom begging for more booze. She’d leave messages.

Boy. Pick up the phone. It’s your momma. Did you forget about me? I need a bottle of Southern Comfort. Just sneak in a little shooter shot. Maybe you could bring two or three. Some Crown Royal would be nice. Hey, you listening to me? This is your momma. Call me back.

He never did call her back. Never spoke with her again. The doctor called a month later and said she’d died of an infection. The boy hung up the phone and went back to watching television.

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