The List

The candle burned brightly as he wrote down notes for the day ahead. Go grocery shopping, he wrote. Pick up some Grape Nuts, he continued. Milk, grapes, chicken, cigarettes, was added to the list. He wrote down that he needed beer; he was in constant need of beer. And, a jug of wine. Some dago red from Gallo Brothers. The kind with the screw top. A loaf of bread, he whispered. That would be nice. Something I can spread butter on to. A hearty rye with seeds, he smiled. A jug of wine with rye bread and butter, he said out loud. Living like a king.

There were a few items in the refrigerator . Strawberries growing mold on them. Bananas turning black. A quarter of a jar of grape jelly. The beer was gone. The trash can overflowed with cans of Old Style, Black Label, Miller High Life. Empty cartons of cigarettes laid beside the food bowl for the cat. The whole trailer was in disarray. The old man lit a butt and finished his list.

Pineapple, he said. I want pineapple in a can with the syrup, he wrote down. And cling peaches, he licked his lips. He would often sit in the dark and drink the cold sugary syrup as he watched television late at night. Three o’clock in the morning and he was watching television. Old westerns with Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood. He’d get up during commercials and grab a beer or two. These were his nights; alone. Making promises to himself till morning broke. Saying things like, one of these days, I’m going to leave this earth just as I came into it; naked and afraid. Screaming at the top of my lungs. But, I won’ have a woman to comfort me, he thought. No breast to cling to.

The old man went back to writing his list. Ramen Noodles, he wrote. The spicy flavored ones, he said. Oreo cookies, a Twix bar, get some Q-Tips and clean out the wax in my ears, he wrote down in a hurry. Maybe a bottle of Wild Turkey, he told himself. Come home and slowly, slowly pass out.

He read over the list. Made sure there was nothing he forgot. He blew out the candle and went to bed on his twin mattress. The TV was left on. Clint Eastwood was spitting in the dirt.

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