"Kickin' booze is hard to do," a voice piped up.
Dave Berry swivelled his head alertly toward a mangy, hirsute man who sat in a corner, sucking on the last drag of a cigarette through nicotine-stained fingers. He raised an eyebrow and nodded knowingly at Dave Berry.
"I know," Dave Berry said, "I just did it." He was proud of himself, pluming garish shades of self-satisfaction on this, his final day at the drying out clinic. He'd put in his month and was ready to strut away into the sunset, but it had been a hard, sleepless month full of shame and cold sweat and tears.
"Nobody kicks the demon drink for good," the man said.
"Yeah," Dave Berry said, puffing up, "what do you know about it?"
"I know a thing or two about time," the man said, then coughed and continued, "it always catches up with you."
I don't need this, Dave Berry thought, it's too soon for aggrivation.
He was getting frustrated, it felt like someone had grabbed his brain and squeezed. Why couldn't they let him have this? Why wasn't he allowed to have his moment? His frustrated brain sat two images side by side, rain and parade. He clenched his fists.
"I didn't mean to be insulting, now," the old man said, he held his arms out as if to display himself for scrutiny, "I know a thing or two about failure."
"No kidding," Dave Berry scoffed.
"You look like you could use a little helping hand is all," the old man said, "something to get through the badtimes."
"You're gonna help me?" Dave Berry was skeptical, "how are you gonna help me?"
"I told you," the old man said, "I know about time." From his pocket he produced a glass bottle with a clear liquid in it.
"This your idea of a joke? It's vodka."
The old man slapped his knee, then untwisted the cap and offered the bottle to Dave Berry, "go 'head an' smell it."
Against his better judgement, he smelled it, expecting to detect booze and spiral down into a frenzy of temptation. But, to his surprise, it wasn't booze.
"It's just water," Dave Berry said.
The old man shook his head, "it's time."
"Uh huh," Dave Berry shoved the bottle back in the old man's hand.
The old man leaned forward in his chair and said, "well let me ask you this: you ever kill time?"
"And where you think it goes when it dies? I process it."
"Take it," the old man shoved the bottle back into Dave Berry's hand, "consider it a gift. There's too much spark in your eyes for me to want to see you back here. Remember, when the going gets rough and the craving is snapping at you to take a drink, take a drink of this."
Dave Berry didn't have the strength left to refuse.
ONE MORE SMOKE FOR THE ROAD
9 years ago