34. Last Call

 

The response arrived almost instantly: Omg, you’re doing so great! Then: So proud of you! A few minutes later: I don’t think it’s thanks to me. You did that, for 30 days! Keep it up!

 Thanks! Is all I can manage to respond. Wanting to kick myself, hard.

 We should get a coffee. Busy day? Myra asks. I don’t respond. Which is somewhat of an answer.

What in the hell was I thinking? I suppose I wasn’t, my subconscious mind was allowed full control at that point. It saw moderate occupational success, and wanted to spread it to other areas. But that was ill-advised. Losing control, although briefly, had caused me to behave like some kind of adrenaline junky. Instead of the usual booze junky that is my MO. With no attention on the desired results in either case.

Pushing in even closer, I examine these actions. A 30-day sobriety chip is a hard-earned achievement. And while I have in fact been making progress, I’m nowhere near accomplishing something like that. I used the all too prevalent power of the internet for manipulation. My-rational mind has the day off apparently.

It was as if I blacked out, lost time, but I was able to witness everything. I still remember it all in vivid detail. Selecting just the right picture. Screenshotting and cropping the image. Composing the message. Hitting send without any real consideration. Not really expecting a response. Assuming from start to finish I could get away with it. What followed was obviously to the contrary.

My new assistant was unable to prevent this folly. It’s not his fault really. He wasn’t trained properly. We parted ways at the pickup of my 3rd and what would be the final super-special delivery for that day. I struggled through it from start to finish, unable to focus on the task at hand.

I want to drink more than ever. More than in recent days or weeks. I can’t remember when the urge was so strong. All that good behavior and progress now seeming like validation for just that. Part of me sees the comedy there would be in showing up for coffee completely shit-faced. Myra would certainly scold me and flee the scene. But it would put all my cards on the table right from the jump.

 How about right now? I’ve got a little window. I’m figuring if we meet immediately I can prevent chugging a pint. This is most likely the only way.

Why am I doing this to myself? Even on a subconscious level it doesn’t make much sense. Do I still care what Myra thinks? Haven’t I given up on this by now? My recent actions provide some answers. But what part of me is answering? My ego could just be refusing this defeat. My heart and mind knowing and accepting the truth. Already having moved on.

So again, why am I doing this to myself? It could be the unusual feeling that things are going well. This can cause a panic in someone so used to misery. I’ve also heard it called being addicted to upset. But that doesn’t sound like a real thing.

 Do you know the Northside Cafe? In like 45 mins? Myra asks.

 I’ll see you there in an hour.

It won’t take me a full hour to complete this 3rd super-special. It’s about a five mile round trip. I’ll use the rest of the time to debate with myself when I will have a drink. This back and forth takes place on the sidewalk in front of a random liquor store several blocks from the Northside Cafe. As my feet try to take me away, only getting so far before the ego pops back up with a rational and plausible explanation for slamming down a pint with the greatest of urgency. To onlookers paying close attention I would appear lost. For the most part I blend in with the comings and goings of liquor store patrons. Some no doubt experiencing similar internal conflict.

As the extra time quickly evaporates I finally reach a compromise with myself: I will buy a bottle now, because I’m here, it’s convenient. But I’m not allowed a drop until after I leave Myra. My-ravenous thirst must wait. Carrying liquor on my person, and the temptation that goes along with it, should provide a bit of an edge to get me through the anxiety of this interaction.

Myra and I arrive at the Northside Cafe almost exactly at the same time. The thought that she may have seen me at the liquor store flashes through my mind. I deem this unlikely, as there are three other directions to arrive from. Again I question whether or not I even care. What exactly am I trying to prove here? It shouldn’t matter to me what Myra thinks. We place our orders and stand waiting at the counter.

 “I haven’t seen you around Central in awhile,” I say.

 “That’s because I got poached by a hot new service.”

 “You would, turncoat.”

 “Hey man, whoever pays the most scratch, gets the best courier in the biz.”

 “No, I don’t work there,” I say. We share a knowing laugh at that absurdity, finding a nearby table to sit.

 “Let’s see it! Let’s see the infamous chip!”

 “Oh, I ah…don’t carry it around with me. I have enough to keep track of you know?”

 “Hmm really? Not sure I believe it now.”

 “So you really like this new place better?” I ask.

It was at that point I wanted off this roller coaster. I realized I didn’t need this extra emotional drain in my life. Not right now anyways. It was time to put a stop to the charade I had enjoyed countless months on end. That shred of hope I would stroke over and over again just to not feel the very real desperation I was experiencing.

My crush, or whatever it was, on Myra was keeping me from what I really needed. To hit bottom. I reach down to my bag as she continues talking. It’s something about her new dispatcher. For a second I worry she’s dating him, then I remember that’s not my worry any longer. I pull out the pint of cheap rum I decided on earlier. Promptly spinning off the cap, I take a nice long pull without breaking eye contact. Myra stops speaking, her face slowly dropping.

 “I knew it! You fucking liar!”

 “Yep.”

 “Where’s the chip? That’s bullshit isn’t it?”

I take another unhealthy gulp. It’s a cheap and dirty-tasting rum. But it’s so so good. “Bullshit, yeah.”

 “Don’t message me again.”

 “I won’t. Sorry.” She gathers her stuff to leave. “See you later…I mean, no nevermind.”

 “You pathetic shit!” I’m quite nearly off my ass by the time she’s through the door. I laugh maniacally at being called anything. The small staff of the Northside Cafe seem perturbed.

 “Not to worry folks! I am in fact just a pathetic shit!” I exclaim. My hands outstretched in the air, laughing further. This is all to delay the eventual shame I will feel. The barista comes over and asks me to leave. “Shouldn’t you offer to make me coffee?” The laughs keep rolling.

Soon after I leave the Northside Cafe, the shame I was waiting on finally arrives. Myra didn’t deserve that. Neither did the barista. At this point there is nothing left to do but get another bottle. Plus a six-pack. In green bottles. I always prefer the green bottles for some reason. I almost don’t want to discard the empties as I continue my soggy wallow back home.

I feel terrible and continue searching for a resolution. Something that will make it up to her. And the barista. And Cameron. And his brother. The list goes on and on. Perhaps it’s best to let them all move on. Find better coworkers, friends, patrons. Bottles are emptied. Consciousness wanes. My-rampage on other people’s emotions has finally stalled.

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