An Old Man at Twenty One
Joshua D. Thomas
I wake up on the floor, on somebody’s floor, somewhere. The place stinks, puke and stale beer, with a hint of piss thrown in for good measure. I drag myself into a sitting position and, digging in my pockets, find a battered pack of cigarettes with a single equally battered survivor inside. I light up, take a drag, turn my head and puke. The hangover’s bad, and I think about just laying down in my puke and saying fuck it. But I’ve got a thirst, and all I see are empty bottles lying around.
I get to my feet, gagging and heaving as the room spins, and look at my surroundings. I’m in a small, dingy living room. There’s some guy asleep on the couch and another one under the butt-scarred, bottle covered coffee table. I don’t recognize either one of them, but I see the front door. I step out onto some street, in some town, and it doesn’t really matter which one because they’re all the same. Two blocks down I find a gas station, buy a pack of cigarettes and a forty ounce beer. I drink the beer and smoke a cigarette behind the gas station, standing beside the dumpster.
The hangover is a little better, not much. Wandering around this town, wherever the hell it is, I should be thinking deep thoughts about loneliness, sadness, the death of the written word. But I’m not thinking about much of anything. I come to a bar, go inside, take a stool. Drinking cheap beer and well whiskey, trying to pick a fight. It works.
He’s a big guy, all scars and attitude. I’ve got a few scars of my own and possibly the worlds shittiest attitude. The bartender tells us to take it outside before the punching starts. The big guy is drunk, I’m probably drunker, and I’m well aware that’s not a word. He throws the first one, straight and hard, smashes my lips against my teeth. I grin at him, tasting my own blood, and throw my own. He’s tough, a real scrapper, we end up on the ground, him on top of me. I catch him with a good one in the adams apple and he rolls to the side. I give him a few more in the face, and then I’m bored.
I go back in the bar, sit back down, order another whiskey. The bartender keeps giving me dirty looks, I don’t care. My whiskey tastes like blood. Or my blood tastes like whiskey. Or something else. I don’t care.
The bar closes and I leave, stumbling and staggering along the streets, some city, somewhere. I wonder vaguely where I’ll sleep, but then again, I don’t even know where I am, so it’s a moot point. Everything is, tonight anyway.
I come to this little park. I sit on a bench by a little pond, smoking a cigarette, and I puke. I puke until I pass out, and then something wakes me up, a sharp poking in my ribs. Opening my eyes, I see this cop standing over me. Little blue smurf uniform and a big smoky the bear hat. Goddamn, what a joke.
“What do you think you’re doing, buddy?”
“Sleeping.” I say.
“You can’t sleep here. Move along, buddy.”
I don’t say anything, just get up and start to walk away.
“Hold on a second. Have you been drinking tonight, buddy?”
No way he could let it be that easy. Bastard.
“Yeah, I had a few.”
After that, you know the drill. Free ride, finger printing, picture taken, tiny little room with no seat on the toilet and a concrete floor to sleep on. Still no idea where I was, but at least I knew where I’d be sleeping.
into each life a little stroh's must fall - surreal
i told my landlord and all the other tenants they could fuck off if they don't like hank- hellbound glory