I say up there that in The Booze Cabinet you will find beer, ideas, fiction or ice, but rarely do I come through with the fiction. There’s lots of beer and ideas and ice…but no fiction. So here’s an excerpt of a longer piece, completely out of context and only explicable if you read the whole thing. Which is not finished of course, but godammit, I’m working on it. Enjoy, or scratch your head:
Such sadness, to be cognizant of all of lifeâ€™s missteps and undiscovered treasures before the end, enough to put it down on paper. Poor woman. It was unfair. I donâ€™t know that we all deserved better but she certainly did. And so where had I not been and what had I not done? The list was endless. The rain slowed to a drizzle with occasional flashes of lightning across the night sky and my head swam with dark thoughts, the gloom of unfinished business. I talked to Ben about Sandy and how I was pushing her away and then there was Dora, and I tried to explain about the magnet she had placed squarely in her crotch. â€œYouâ€™re hopeless,â€ he said, of course.
He was right about meâ€”it was sick how easily I fell back into itâ€”but I was all caught up in the drama and I had no intention of figuring out why or trying to change. It made things more interesting, to pathetically hop from one failure to the next, getting burned or burning it all down, the romantic arsonist. She was right, that sweet innocent at the Courson House, it was a world on fire, and no wonder I loved that falling star. Ben didnâ€™t understand at all and to his credit he simply ignored me and got to the point.
His motherâ€™s note requested a desire to be littered across the â€œdry death heat and cactus landscapeâ€ of the desert, never having visited such a climate, not once in her life, never even crossing the Mississippi to the west, it was like some fantasy foreign land she had only seen on television or in pictures. I sat there thinking about it and grew more and more depressed. There was no way anyone could properly fill up a life. There would always be something left, always somewhere else to go, and in the end we would all have to accept that the world held places we would never see, pyramids, jungles, exotic locales; mountains, skyscrapers or a burning hole in the ground where a satellite fell. Somewhere was a girl I would never meet, standing at the foot of the Great Wall or walking the beach on a remote island in the Pacific, or maybe just around the corner on a street I sometimes walked. She would close her door just as I went past and go inside to an empty house and I would see a shadow behind a curtain and then a light switch off. It was a world too big, a life too small, and I could hardly move, paralyzed with despair.
Ben shook me out of the haze and demanded that I accompany him. â€œI canâ€™t do this alone,â€ he said, â€œI need a witness. It would mean a lot to me if you came.â€ I wondered if his mother had simply given up waiting for the course of her life to change, given up on anything but the routine and invested it all in her son. The Burden of Benedict. And were we living the life she was never able to? I had a hard time believing that, not this life.
â€œA son has to fulfill a motherâ€™s wishes,â€ I finally said.
We were living within limitations. Why? Why follow the guide? Why allow the cock to rule the mind? I was angry at God for not existing and for allowing me to exist. It was going to have to end somehowâ€”and alone and without warningâ€”and who would I leave behind? I thought of Walter and his false sense of comfort. What part of the equation had he left out in order to find peace? Eternal happiness and proper salvation and superstition and empty slogans. Another conversation, never started, never finished. I wished to have never lived and to never have to die and I could feel the fury building and the terror and the misery and all the while Ben stared at me slack-jawed and maybe even slightly amused.
â€œIs that a â€˜yesâ€™?â€