Tag Archives: alcoholism

Not a creature was stirring

Prison Bars

Something collided with the cell bars above him and reverberated against the crown of his head. Paulie scurried away from the sound and covered his now aching skull with crossed arms to protect it from further damage.

“Get your lazy ass on your feet if you want anything to eat,” the blurry man in uniform yelled at him. “There’s a cup of coffee and oatmeal there by the door.” The baton that rang out the metal tune on his head moments ago pointed in the opposite direction. “Serve yourself. This ain’t the Holiday Inn.”

Waking up on a cold slab that hung from a concrete wall at Jefferson County jail was a helluva way to spend Christmas morning. The bed felt as flat against his back as the empty wallet in his pocket. Paulie knew good and well his kids were at home expecting to open presents Santa Claus hadn’t brought from the North Pole this year. The coward in him was glad to not witness their disappointment.

Growing up, Paulie’s family ofttimes had its own lean years. His mom would find a way, some kind of hustle, to get his sisters and him a little something. Even if she had to stoop to making them all angels on some charity’s tree. The siblings enjoyed plenty of welfare dinners none the wiser.

Paulie would not only perpetuate the stereotype this year but do it one better. No money for gifts should’ve meant no cash for drinks, but he spent what he had regardless. All the bender did was land him an overnight stay in lockup. Not the best place to be when he should have been putting out cookies and milk for the fat man and carrots for some flying reindeer.

The tree he’d chopped down after dark at the nature preserve would still be there when he got out three days later, dried out and bound to start a house fire. A single strand of tinsel hung listless from a parched branch, and the ornaments still remained, but the sparse presents were all gone. Along with his kids and wife. She must’ve taken them to her mother’s before Paulie got released. He figured as much would happen.

He opened the otherwise empty refrigerator and retrieved a beer before collapsing into the threadbare recliner. No cheerful carols rung out or kids’ laughter greeted him. Paulie reached over and plugged the cord for the Christmas tree lights into the outlet anyway.

*Our Write Side writing prompt – ofttimes

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Lonesome Blues

He had a bum knee from a long-ago car wreck that caused him to walk with a stitch in his gait. That limp kept him from doing much of anything, least ways gave him an excuse from fixing or cleaning anything around the house. Carpet hadn’t been hoovered since Charlotte left him several months prior. Didn’t matter anyway with all the leavings from his boot heels. Traipsing all over muddy back lot left them pretty nasty and hard to scrape with that bad leg and all.

boot scraper

Those things never bothered him and Ol’ Buck, the dog his sole compatriot these days. The Setter stood to be about all he’d get in the dispersal of his marriage as well. They slept in a mutual bed and shared the same measure of filth throughout the abode.

Lawrence’s self-esteem left with Charlotte, so the state of his dwelling became the least of his worries. Personal hygiene certainly moved down the priority list, too, exacerbating his loneliness as well. Buck didn’t mind the stench of recycled tube socks and week-old drawers turned inside out. “That’s why you canines are called ‘Man’s Best Friend,’ ain’t it, Ol’ Buck?” He smiled down at the dog’s speckled face and admired his oblivious loyalty.

He envied that matt not having a worry in world and considered his lot in life. The kids gone off on their own, and his wife gone now, too, considering her job down raising up the little ones. She found no other reason to stay with his lazy self, she said, and kept talking about how he’d soon have the goats living inside if he had his way about it. Just like that mean man on that purple movie with Whoopie Goldberg. Least he’d never have to watch such nonsense again, much less have a chick flick thrown up in his face.

Lawrence reached down to pet the dog’s shoulder and choked back a sob. “Damn, my luck,” he gasped. “How’d we end up here, boy?” His knees suddenly went weak and toppled him down onto the crusty, stained carpeting. The man fought desperately to be optimistic about his situation but lost that inner struggle more often than not.

He came to the next morning in that same crumpled spot, a rubber-soled toe of Charlotte’s shoe nudging him in the ribs, a slew of empty PBR cans scattered across the dirty floor around him. “Good to know I’d find you in about the exact spot as I last seen you, Lawrence,” she said. “Just came to pick up my mail. I’m expecting something.”

His head pounded like someone beat on the inside of his skull with a hundred tiny ball-peen hammers, and he watched his soon-to-be-ex-wife step over his body and walk to the messy kitchen counter to search for her letter. Used to be Charlotte would’ve had a conniption to find him in this condition. The woman’s face showed neither anger nor surprise. Just resolve.

Lawrence rolled over to one side and tried to slowly push himself up to a sitting position to watch as Charlotte simply trod toward the door to leave. She glanced back over her shoulder to address him. “You might wanna get up and take Buck out ‘fore long. He took a big shit right inside the door.”

She stretched her arm out to turn the knob and took one last great stride over the pile and across the threshold. Turning away from Lawrence, she said, “It’s not right to trap him inside so long, you know.”

Studio 30+ writing prompt – optimistic  Studio30

(photo: kansassampler.org)

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