Bottled Up

October 21, 2008
By Devon Norris, Benton, AR

Gerard had lost everything. His family, his job, his life. Alcohol had wrought his downfall. Hidden in every cranny of his home, a bottle was stashed to drown all of the pain with a relieving numbness. But there was never enough. The nightmare would always return. A harsh world that stripped Gerard of his existence.

Working as a prestigious executive with a law firm, Gerard had a successful life with a beautiful wife and two lovely children. Living the American dream, he owned a decadent home on the Malibu beach. A chauffered limousine transported Gerard to and from the offices of Caine Law firm. A partner and supervisor at the building, Gerard involved himself in some of the most difficult suits his company took part in. A lawsuit was the turning point of his career. The rock tumbling down the mountain at the vanguard of the avalanche. The devastating loss against an oil company stopped Gerard's career dead in its track. Designated as the scapegoat for the defeat, Gerard witnessed his home seized by the company to compensate for the losses. Forced to move to an apartment, life steadily became worse and worse. As his luxuries dissipated at an alarming rate, the family became unstalbe. Gerard took up the bottle and corkscrew as his new occupation. His wife, Rebecca, took the children, Jacob and Sarah, away to start a new life, taking the few valuables the family still possessed. This act severed the last tie that Gerard had to his old life. Deprived of all he considered dear to him, Gerard immersed himself in the salve of alcohol's stupor.

He became a wretched drunk, too concerned about where the next bottle came from. Waste littered the apartment, covering the floor with a carpet of refuse. Torn furniture strewn across the floor, stained from all the garbage. Pictures of the once-close family hung at odd angles against the cracked dry wall. Cobwebs spread across the frames, hiding the love as efficiently as time had. Photographs lay entrapped in glass prisons, dusty remnants of a lost past. Light filtered though the blinds, casting the apartment into a shadowy twilight. The afternoon air, cool and brisk, swept from under the doorframe in a futile attempt to clean the tainted atmosphere of Room 101. The eviction notice, crumpled and dirty, stood out on the kitchen counter, a monument to Gerard's ruined life.

"Gerard Winter. Room 101. 30 days to leave premise before forceful action is taken."

That was the ultimatum. No second chance. No mercy. A payment for the life he had led.

♦ ♦ ♦

Gerard's blurred vision passed over the notice again, taking in the words but not processing them. He recieved the missive from the landlord four weeks ago. The man's unhealthy pallor was intensified by the disgusted look, so blatantly obvious. When the landlord's eyes took in the grimy room, a sneer of derision formed on his face, repulsed by the unsightly scene. Two days. Forty-eight hours. Too soon for Gerard to start a new life. He wasn't ready. Gerard drew back the bottle, opening his mouth in anticipation of the liquor that would trickle down his gullet. Nothing. The bottle was empty. Greasy hair hung past his brow, flowing down. Salty tears, welling up only to cascade in a waterfall of bitterness, stained his gritty face. His ragged clothes hung loosely from this thin frame, a shroud of dirt and grime. Gerard's shoes were reduced to shreds, tattered and ripped on his calloused feet. Odor had soaked into his skin, leaving a perpetual filth that tested the gag reflex. Gerard slumped down, unable to support his weight. And he wept. Gerard wept until no more tears streamed down his face, leaving a dry husk slouched on the apartment floor.

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