“What will it be hun?” She asked me as I scooted my butt on the barstool. I looked over and she could tell that I had been crying. “Something hard, I’m guessing.”
“If you can make me forget, then I’ll tip you big time.” I told her. She smiled at me and started to mix all kinds of alcohol in her mixer.
She handed me a drink that burned the insides of me just by looking at it. “We call this the Midnight Knockout. It’ll knock you out and you’ll forget everything around you.”
I downed it in one gulp. “I’ll take another one.”
She went back to mixing. “Must have been one hell of a night.” I only nodded.
It had been a little over a month since I saw my wife take off with the kids. After getting off the phone with my old man I jumped into my car and headed to Shonda’s. Shonda had a cold one waiting for me at the bar. She had known, I think Ella had called her and told her she was leaving me. Shonda ended up driving me home that night. Since then I’ve been to every bar imaginable and drank every single drink that has been offered to me.
It was no different tonight. I was drinking heavily. “Damn bitch.” I mumbled while I sipped my drink. The bartender only looked at me. I shot down the rest of the glass and asked for another.
“She hurt you pretty bad I take it?” She asked me pouring me another.
“If you count ripping my heart out and throwing it across the river!” The bartender only nodded while she handed my third glass. I downed that drink just as fast. I could feel the burn and the booze rising to my head. “Anther.” I ordered. “Dmn cheatin’ btch.” I mumbled, I was already slurring my words. The drinks were working. The bartender didn’t say anything but poured.
I don’t know how I got home, but I found myself in bed. I only hoped I didn’t drink and drive. My head was throbbing in pain. I had way too much last night. I looked out the window of my room and saw the wilting plants. I hadn’t gone out to the back since Ella left me. I only did two things since she left, drank to forget and sleep. Well, okay three things, I also ended up puking most nights. I turned my head away from my once desire to be a farmer and looked up on the wall and saw my children’s faced smiling back at me. I wanted them home. Ella had already told me that she would let them come home, but only after I stopped the drinking. I wasn’t ready to stop.
As the day passed and I sulked on the sofa till six, I only thought about that next drink and who would give me it. Today was Thursday, and I knew that the “Shivering Rain” would be at the local club, “The Garbage Bin.” Shonda’s would be open and I didn’t want to risk walking in on Ella and Mike playing.
After plenty of hard drinks Shonda walked in and took over the bartending. “EY SHONDA!” I tipped my glass to her. “You lookin’ good.” I was already slurring my words with her.
“How many have you had Rain?” She asked as she started to wash some of the glasses that were around me.
“Does it matter?” I smiled. “She ready lft me. Here give me anther one.”
“You want to see Trav and Ally, right?” She asked taking my glass and filling it with a cocktail. “You need to slow down Rain. You’ll only get to see those two angels once you back off from the booze. So, I’m gonna ask again Rain, how many have you had?”
“That would be his eighth, maybe ninth.” Came a voice down the bar. I turned and look at some guy drinking a jack and coke.
“Mind your own business!” I snapped. I turned back to Shonda, “He’s lying. This is my second.” I said followed by a hiccup. No one would believe that, especially Shonda.
“One more and I’m cutting you off Rain.” She told me. She handed me one more glass of a green cocktail. I sat and watched as the other sorry ass sat there and wash down whatever was eating him.
“I want Ella!” I cried out placing my empty drink on the bar. I had downed it fast. I was now completely shitfaced. Shonda hadn’t kept her word on “one more.” I kept throwing her money, she kept giving me more to drink.
Shonda took my half filled glass. I was done, and she knew it. She brushed the back of her hand on my cheek, “I’m sorry Rain.”
“Why Shonda! Why’d she do this to me?” I started to bawl. “Did I not love her enough!”
Shonda wiped a tear from her own eye. She was Ella’s and my best friend and the only one that fought for us to stay together. “I think I should call Jimmy and have him pick you up.”
“No, I can do it.” I said as I spun out of my stool, before falling. “I’m aight.”
I punched in the first number that came to mind, and it wasn’t Jimmy’s. “HEY EL!” I screamed. Shonda rounded the bar, but it was too late.
“David Rain! Do you know what time it is?” She screamed over the phone. I could hear a muffling sound from behind, and Ella whispering, “No, I can handle it. He’s just drunk.” Then she was back on the phone, “David! Get off the phone and go home!” She yelled.
“Screw you! I’m habing the most fun since I got mawwied!” I screamed. Shonda was trying to get the phone away from me, I was running around the bar, keeping her at an arms length.
Then another voice came on the phone, it was Mike. “Get off the phone, before I come down there and arrest you for drunk and disorderly!”
“Oh go F. . . .” And before I could finish my statement, Shonda had my phone in her hand.
“Sorry.” She said. “I won’t let him, trust me. . . . It’s okay Mike, I’m calling Jimmy and he’ll get a ride. . . Sorry, and tell Ella I’m really sorry.” She then glared at me. “Rain! What the hell were you thinking!?! Go sit and wait till Jimmy gets here!” She pointed to the barstool like a mother did when one of her children acted out.
Jimmy got me home and inside the house. I ran straight to the bathroom. I had been holding in what was in my stomach since I left Shonda’s. I ended up throwing up all the alcohol of that night in my toilet. I heard a knock at the door, “You gonna be okay mate?” Jimmy asked.
“Sure.” I said just as I puked again.
“Alright. Call me in the morning. I’m heading back home. I’ll put your keys on the counter.” I didn’t give a reply, I was too busy puking.
The next morning I woke with my arms cradling the toilet. I stood up and felt my sore body. I had passed out the night before, not remembering anything. I looked down at the toilet and then at the door. I didn’t even remember how I got home, much less anything else. I knew I wasn’t done, but I knew that I needed to clean my act together. I missed my kids.
I headed outside and started to work on my neglected garden. Thankfully the sprinklers were on a timer and kept all my nice produce alive while I went into a drunken depression. I wanted to stop my nightly drinking spurs and take care of what was important. I decided today, of all days, to stop. I weeded and harvested what I could salvage. It was enough to go into town with and sell.
After I got home from the grocery store and selling off ever last one of my produce, I saw that the mail had arrived. Great, more bills. I thought. I went and opened the box up, only to find a long vanilla envelope stuffed in there with the bills. I looked at it and it was addressed to “Mr. David T. Rain” and the return address read, “Riverview Law Offices, Mark P. Rice, ESQ.” My heart sank, I knew what was in the envelope.
I tore it open and found a return address envelope along with a small stack of papers, divorce papers. I gulped again. I didn’t want to go inside, so I just stood there and read. Ella had given up the house, I knew she would since her and Mike bought a new place. She gave me the car, which was actually surprising. As for the kids, it read that she wanted shared custody, giving me weekend and holidays with them, but on the stipulation that I was to not drink around them.
I looked around, trying hard not to cry. I wanted my kids to live with me, to be with me and me alone. I didn’t want them living with Him! I took out my pen and signed where it said I had to sign, agreeing to everything. I could fight, but with the way I’ve been spending my time lately and my past I knew there was no chance of winning.
I headed inside and took out a beer.
After finishing a six pack, I headed out to the bars. The sun was just setting when I drove past the familiar house. It was huge, I had to give them credit. I could see Travis in the upstairs bedroom window talking to Ella. I also saw Mike holding Alice in the front yard, throwing her up in the air. No one saw me flipping him off, no one saw that I was driving completely drunk. I rounded the corner and headed a block over to the bars.
I immediately headed into Shonda’s. I didn’t even think of the day or who would be at the bar. It was six o’clock and I was already completely hammered. Shonda’s eyes widen as she watched me walk in. I sat at the bar and ordered a beer. “What the hell are you doing Rain, it’s Friday.” She whispered as she handed me a beer.
I shrugged. “I need a f***in’ drink. El, sent over the papers today.” Her eyes lessened, and she started pouring me another glass. I wasn’t going to leave my stool.
“I’m sorry Rain.” She said. I could tell she was looking at the door, hoping for something.
“What’s up Shonda?” I asked, taking my second beer.
“It’s Friday, Music hour starts at 8 and, well . . . “ She didn’t want to say that the band was playing in her house, like they did every Friday.
That’s when we both heard the door open. Shonda’s eyes widen and I turned to see who was walking in the door. Mike stopped dead in his tracks and I just sat there. “Evenin’” He waved to Shonda. “I’m just gonna set up, if that’s okay Shon?”
I turned and tossed down the beer I had in my hand and took the one that Shonda quickly handed me. She was sweating. Shonda hated bar brawls, and I knew if I ever wanted to walk into her bar again I would keep my cool. “Sure Mike.” She said to him but looking at me. “I don’t want any trouble Rain.” She said at a very quiet whisper.
“I’ll take a round of shots.” I told her narrowing my eyes over at the stage. “Make then tequila.”
I took the shot glasses and shot them down fast. There was six in all. Then I asked for one more beer. Mike shook his head at me. “You gotta problem?” I asked.
“Nope.” He answered going back to setting up the drum kit. I knew he wanted to say more, he kept eyeing me and then the door. He finally got up and headed towards me, towards the bar. “Four bottles of water.” He ordered, still looking at me.
I downed my drink. “You may want to go easy on those.” He said to me. I gave him the middle finger and he only chuckle. He looked over at the door, I knew why now.
“How long?” I asked, knowing that Ella was due any minute.
“I’ll give her twenty minute before I call. She’s trying to convince Travis to do his homework.” This irked me. “You should get going before she shows.” He patted my back taking the waters from Shonda. That’s what sent me over the edge.
I turned off my stool, faced Mike and in one smooth motion I punched him squarely in the face. I heard Shonda shriek from behind the bar, dropping some glass. Mike was flat on the floor with a bloody nose. He just sat there on his ass, looking up at me. He wiped the blood and got on to his feet. “I’ll give you that one, but if you don’t leave in two seconds I will make you.” He told me as he unclipped his handcuffs and put them on the bar. “Go home and sober up Rain.”
I was not about to let him tell me what to do. All I wanted was to drink and sleep, that’s all. I looked at him, he looked at me and finally, with my other fist I punched at him. He caught my fist. He pushed me back. “Get out!” He yelled. I stumbled onto my feet, stood up and tried punching him again, missing him.
I don’t know when, or how it happened. The next thing I knew I was on my ass in handcuffs. “I told you Rain. Why couldn’t you listen?” He asked. My face was starting to hurt and I looked up and could see the blood coming from Mike’s face.
“Get him out.” Shonda told Mike.
He stood me up just as the doors to the bar opened. We all froze, it was Ella. I had blood running down my nose and my eyes were throbbing in pain, but I could see the look she gave me. She didn’t say anything to me, not one word. She looked at Mike. “Where you taking him?”
“I’m gonna have him sleep it off downtown. I’ll be back in ten.” Then, without even looking at me, caring how I felt about the situation, Ella gave him a small kiss on the lips. As if my day wasn’t bad enough! I tore my eyes away, hoping that she wouldn’t see the emotional pain I was in.
Mike and I got to the station and he dragged my drunk ass into the cell. “Go to sleep Rain!” He yelled.
“Go F*** Yourself!” I hollered back running to the bars, trying to snatch him, and get one more solid hit into him. He was lucky that there was bars between us, I wanted to kill him. The entire car ride he had me in the back, shackled to the floorboard of the car, so that I wouldn’t try anything stupid. “I’m gonna kill you!” I yelled back as he walked away.
That night I didn’t get much sleep on the hard ass bench. I ended up puking half the night in the gross toilet. This was the first night I had ever been arrested. I knew I was screwed. I hit a cop, drunk, but knowingly. He had given me a warning, but I refused to leave.
I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about were my kids. I started to pace the small cell, thinking of ways that I could mend the situation, nothing came to mind.
In the morning I was released. My face was sore and my eyes were in pain. Mike had all the charges dropped against me. I wasn’t going to be stuck in a cell. Jimmy walked me through the police station to the front door, he told me Shonda had banned me from her place for a month. I only nodded. “You have got to pull yourself together mate.”
“They kissed last night! Right in front of me!” I yelled in a whisper. “How am I suppose to deal with that!?!”
“You need to get out of here, go somewhere and cool off.” He told me as I headed out. “Just think about it Rain.”
I stood out in the open morning air. Jimmy was right, I needed to get away for a while.
At home I went to my kids bedroom and looked around at the crib and Travis’ unmade bed. I missed my kids more than anything. I wanted them home and in my arms, not in Mike’s. I wanted Travis and I to go fishing out by the river across the way. I wanted to toss Alice in my arms again. I knew I needed to clean up before they could come over.
I decided then and there I was going on vacation.
I took out my cell phone and dialed Ella. She needed to know. “Hello?” She asked in her sweet voice.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“Boy, you have a lot of nerve calling after last night!” She yelled. “What the hell were you thinking David?”
“Look, I don’t want to talk about last night. I’m sorry. I just called to tell you I’m heading out of town. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I need someone to look after my crops. I only trust you El.”
She gave me an audible sigh. “Where you going?”
“Don’t know. Won’t know till I get to the airport.”
“You wanna say goodbye to your kids?” Ella asked. I could hear two little voices behind her, the loudest was Travis begging for the phone.
“Sure.” She handed off the phone and I could hear Travis’ breath excitedly. “Hey bud!”
“Daddy, when can we come home?” He asked. “I miss you and Ally misses you.”
“Not right now. I’m going to be out of town for a while. You take care of mommy and your sister for me okay?”
“Okay. But when you get home can I come see you?” He asked more worried.
“If mom says it’s okay, you can. I miss you bud and I love you.”
“I love you too.” Then he handed the phone off to Ella.
“Rain, Ally’s cranky. Maybe later you can call.”
“Sure.” I chuckled. “Tell her I love her. I’ll see you guys.”
“Take care Rain.”