Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen Excerpt

Here's a brief excerpt from Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen:
Chapter 6: Baptism by Fire(water).

There is a special place and time (an event one might call it) that alcoholics go to – those who drink alone, and most of them do at one point or another, sometimes for years at a time, despite their insistence to the contrary – called, for lack of a better term, “The Drunk’s Dark.”

The Drunk’s Dark is where the solo drinking – the real damage drunks inflict on themselves – happens. It’s usually done in either the living room or bedroom of one’s apartment or house; sometimes the kitchen for the hardcore drunks who like to deny themselves even the comfort of a padded sofa during these periods of queerly pious self-abuse and loathing. The time is usually around 1 to 3 a.m.

The Alone Hours, you might call them, occur after the lighted, pretty, social part of the drinking is done at the neighborhood tavern, or Elks Lodge, or dinner party – the kind you see in all those wonderful beer and liquor commercials with the beautiful people in their perfect clothes and their perfect teeth feeling perfectly content with their perfect drinks. Yes, friends and neighbors, after the back-slapping comes the back-stabbing. Nothing celebratory, or beautiful, or perfect, about it. This is where the drunk comes to do their penance, pay their fines, and rot away in their mental jail cells.

It’s also where the drunk goes to ponder their condition, their lot in life, and recount who is responsible and why, and, goddammit, how they would exact their revenge if only they could. If only this bastard wasn’t holding them back, or if that job had turned out differently and the stupid bosses would have made them supervisor instead of that other suck-up. The drunk rarely cries during these episodes because, after all, it’s all someone else’s fault, isn’t it? And that’s not something to cry about. It’s something to get pissed off about – to drink over.

The hour is quiet and the house is quiet. No TV, no phone, no radio. Just a drunk and their booze. There is no sound whatsoever, save for the dull landing of the hand on the metallic bottle lid, the tearing and simultaneous unscrewing sound as the metal lid scrapes against the threaded top of the bottle. Unscrewing that lid slowly, the initial resistance, then giving way, and spinning it on the tabletop is the triumph of control that every alcoholic craves. To a drunk, it’s that goood. The feeling of unfettered and guilt-free victory, the full-body tingle of discovery. The anticipation of release, of liberty, letting go of the questions without answers, letting go of the caring.

The light clank of the bottle as it brushes against, and then settles, on top of the glass for balance before the tip. The drunker they get, the louder that clang as the bottle struggles to find pay dirt on the top of the glass. It’s not uncommon for the drunk to find chips of glass on the kitchen table, or on the floor, where it’s discovered the next morning and accompanied by a hung-over pronouncement of “Oh, shit-damn-fuck. Goddamn glass on the goddamn floor! What the fuck?!”
Some drunks, when they’re really wasted, will use the threads on the top of the bottle as balance on the side of the glass. Call it an insurance policy, a failsafe, just in case the damn thing slips.

Then, another slight clink as the top of the bottle penetrates the glass for the pour. Followed by a muted glug-glug sound as the booze finds its way into the glass at last. At this point, the drunk feels their only joy in the process; they might smile even as they think: “Yes, that’s it baby, there ya go. This is victory, a victory for me. Look what I’ve created, world. I’m in control. I’m pouring my own drink in my own house, that I bought/rent with my own money, and it’s me doing it, you fuckers, it’s me. I’m in control here. I’m the boss of this one-person-booze-show. Me. No one else but me.”

The power is in the penetration as well; don’t let anyone tell you differently. Even drunks themselves are at a loss to understand, or even recognize, the sexual overtones of The Drunk’s Dark. Men are always the bottle, women are always the glass.

Then, the drinking. Followed by the loathing, the sorrow, and the utter aloneness of it all, the wretched rejection of life.

This is where Leysa Henko, a tired, skinny woman 57 years old with eyelids so puffy they seemed to be holding the woes of the world inside two leathered, worn and world-weary bags, found herself the evening after Joshua, Claire and Hope visited for that dreaded lunch. A manhattan sat in front of her in a glass, a triple-strength, non-judgmental friend accompanying her into the wee hours of the night, like it had so faithfully done so many times before. A Pearl filtered cigarette sat in the between the crystal sharks’ teeth of a thick glass ashtray; smoke trailed from it in a solitary chimney – rising in three straight chimneys at first, then swirling into a kind of weak nicotine funnel as it neared the ceiling.

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