What If: Vol 5-2
Drunk: August 24/25, 1952
Crying, his chest heaving with sobs.
…Forcing himself to stop.
Attempting to force himself to stop,
at the moment wanting,
needing physical rather than emotional pain,
he bit his lower lip until he tasted blood.
But still, he cried.
Mixing with blood,
The bourbon stinging his lip,
causing a bit more pain than he’d wanted.
Drawing on the now raggedy end of the cigarette
he got a mouthful of tobacco
and not knowing if the cigarette was wet from bourbon,
or the snot that ran from his nose,
he flipped the cigarette out the open window.
Taking his handkerchief from his pocket,
he wiped his eyes,
blew his nose,
dabbed at the double cut on his lip…
then took another swig from the bottle,
and thoroughly soused,
his eyes closed and his chin dropped onto his chest.
Not awake and not asleep,
even in this,
usually peaceful twilight place
he could not escape the ache of his boundless dark depression…
But now, things started to happen:
his head began to spin,
the car began to spin,
the world began to spin,
and, oh, yeah,
his stomach began to spin.
Wrenching the door open,
staggering to the rear of the car,
bracing himself against the right rear fender of his car
and the front fender of another car…
a white, 1951 Cadillac.
The young man had done dumb and,
even stupid things in his now eighteen years,
but he had never been spiteful,
and he had never purposely hurt another person
or damaged someone else’s property,
Susan’s parents 1951 Cadillac.
The young man turned his head to the left and….
What If: Vol 5-3
Midafternoon on this day
the young man
drove to Talman Avenue,
stopped in front of Susan’s building,
looked at her bedroom window,
drove to the corner,
made a U-turn,
passed the building without a glance,
went east on Peterson,
north on Ridge,
east on Howard until he found the building,
put three pennies into the parking meter
and walked through the door of a one-room,
“I’ve got to take a test?”
Tapping the eraser end of a pencil
onto the desk-set blotter,
“So, you in?”
Straightening his back.
“Yes, Sir, I’m in.”
“Good. You won’t be sorry.”
Opening the top drawer of the desk,
Chief Petty Officer Brian Walters removed a sheath of papers.
“We do the paperwork here,
then tomorrow you go to Civil Service downtown
for the physical exam and written test,
and if you pass ’em both,”
—Walters looked at the young man over his glasses—
“and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t
you’re in the United States Coast Guard…
You do know the term of enlistment is four years?”
Four years away from his home.
Four years away from his family.
But he could not stay here!
He could not stay in this close proximity to Susan
and not be allowed to see Susan,
to love Susan.
He could not !
Chief Petty Officer Brian Walters said.
“Name: last first;
then middle initial.”
To be continued
©March 21, 2012 / Mark M. Lichterman