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The Brandyman can.....
Down in Seattle, a younger man, Bill Roberts woke up in a pool of his own vomit. Long since used to this, he got out of bed and went to the bathroom.
He had a shaggy black mane of hair and five o’clock shadow. His face was gaunt and his cheekbones were high. His eyes still had the lusterless quality they normally have when their owner has just pried themselves out of bed. When he looked in the mirror, he saw vomit caked in his hair and coagulated chunks on his underclothes. His eyes were red, and he realized he smelled like a goat’s butthole. There were two people in his bathtub, which had apparently fallen asleep in the act of lovemaking. One was an old friend. Not as good as Evan, more of a replacement. Still, the old man was a sickening sight, curled around that young blonde, as he had a potbelly and wrinkles everywhere else. His name was Tommy Hadix. He was a veteran when it came to partying and drinking, witch had, at the time, appealed to Bill in his grief-stricken state. He remembered what had woken him so early on a hangover morning. It had been a dream of Evan. Evan had told him that this was all wrong, that Bill should change.
What’s so bad about this? Bill asked himself as he stubbed his toe on an empty beer bottle. Suddenly, wakefulness spread over him and he saw his room clearly for the first time in a long time. He saw the steel gray carpet and its many stains, and the mattress that rested on it, with its pool of vomit in the center. The lamp missing a lampshade, which was on Tom’s head. He saw the bathroom, which looked as thought a tornado had swept through it.
Something has to change. And he turned to the toilet, expecting more vomit because he felt so sick. This wasn’t what Evan would have wanted for him. It would have made him wonder if Bill needed psychiatric help. Then again, if Evan had been alive, Bill would never been in this situation. When Evan was alive, Bill had never even tasted alcohol. Bill’s chocolate-brown eyes filled with tears at the thought of his once hale and hearty friend.
He removed all the beer from his fridge and every other nook and cranny it was stored in. He was in the act of scrubbing out the stains when Tom woke up. He yawned and scratched his s as he walked out of the bathroom, buck naked. He was rather disgusting. More so than he was when he presented his backside.
“Mornin’ Billy-boy. You remember last night at all?” The old man asked.
Bill looked up at the old man with cold resentment. “No. Your clothes are on the bed.”
The old man was confused. “Okay, but I thought I was gonna stay for another party. What’s up with you?”
“I’m done. The party is over. Permanently.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the old man asked, his confusion turning to anger.” You ditchin’ all your friends now?”
“I’m ditchin’ alcohol. All the pills you need are on the bed, next to your clothes. You know, for the hangover.”
Tom looked, and there indeed sat two Tums and two Advil. He looked back at his young drinking buddy. “You kickin’ me out, old boy?” He asked quietly.
“Yup. Go drink with somebody else.”
Tom was flabbergasted. This was how his last drinking buddy left him. In the earlier case, his buddy had been more explicit about it. How Tom had mooched off of him for the last time, and how he needed to stop waking up naked in his apartment. An apartment witch had been eerily similar to this, now that he thought about it. Without another word, he got dressed, took his pills, collected his things, and left. A short while later, the blonde woke up. She thought that bill was the man she had made love to last night, which was just as well, considering the truth. She took no offence to his dismissal. She also thought his hair had gotten darker.
Bill had worked at Wal-Mart as a cashier. Since he was no longer hung over during work, he worked five times harder. He soon moved up to a co-manager, where he met an inspiring man who looked mean. He was bald, had a Clint Eastwood face and blue eyes. His name was Mitch and he was the QC manager from a buttcrack town far from Seattle. He was from the Distribution Center, so that meant Bill was moving up in life. Once bill got past the frightening appearance, he found the man to be very relaxing, and was missing him when he left.
All the while, he thought of Evan, and what he wanted for Bill. Evan had been Bill’s brother, and a good one at that. He had died of a brain tumor two years ago. Bill had drunk all through that night. They had been through so much together. They had gone out adventuring in the nearby forest (Bill too, came from a buttcrack town like the QC guy). Evan had wanted Bill to become a corporate Bigwig or architect or something fitting of his lineage. He also thought of Evans slow, painful death at the hands of a brain tumor. In the end, Evan had asked his father to end his misery, then his mother, and then, finally, his brother.
“Please.” Evan begged.” It hurts so badly.”
Bill had stared at his once so mighty brother, now wasting away. The looked sixty, though he was barely thirty. His face had lost all unnecessary flesh, and then some. It was tight about his face and his eyes were sunken. Bill had walked out of the hospital and had thought long and hard about Evan’s wish.
However, the decision was made for him, as the next day, he was dead. The funeral was large and all his relatives came. Evan had been reasonably hated as the black sheep of the family. In an odd twist of circumstance, Evan had been the Tramp and Bill had been perfect. Bill was quite sure the tears shed were apocryphal.
Still, in Bill’s mind, Evan was a Genius. He built flying machines and wooden cars at five. He was a scientist at twenty. He was working with a group of sociologists when he was diagnosed with the tumor.
On his birthday, Bill had some friends come over. They were not like his old friends, they were co-workers. He had only recently started talking to them, and found that it didn’t take beers to make good friends. It only took collective brains. And all of Bill’s friends were smart. Not geniuses like Evan, but they were bright boys.
The party was good, and Bill did not once think of what his old parties were like. You could say he was cured at last. When he was handed a glass of wine, he did not worry. Wine was harmless, pussycat tame. When he realized he wanted something a little stronger, he didn’t worry. When he and his friends were all reasonably drunk, he no longer cared. When he woke up the next morning, he found himself curled around the toilet. He peeked into the bowl and saw yellow vomit.
“Aaaargh! Everybody out! NOW!”
Groans responded to this, and for the second time in his life, Bill ended the party. He had been Irresponsible, and that old ugly monster had got him. He wanted a drink, and it was so for the next few days. He also wanted to shoot himself. It snuck up on me, Bill thought during work. It won’t happen ever again.
Meanwhile, Tom was working on Bill’s plumbing. He had worked hard over the past several weeks. When he was not at his Job, he was working at his Revenge. One too many of his drinking buddies had quit on him and he was sick of it. He thought that once he pulled his prank, Bill would come back and the party could continue.
When Tom was a younger man, he had friends who loved to party all day and night. But in the end, they all left, and he was alone. He had found Bill drinking away sadness one day, and things had looked up since. He hadn’t had to worry about work, as he stayed almost constantly at Bill’s apartment. All he wanted was taken care of. It was the good life. Now Bill was living in a little house and Bill had to go back home. He had known Bill was serious when he said he was done because he was so used to it. He had come to expect it, and then to fear it. When it finally happened, he felt soul-crushing sadness envelope him.
Then, enough became enough.
He unscrewed the water pipe and stuck the pipe attached to the barrel where it had been. In the huge barrel was roughly forty gallons of clear vodka. Good stuff. When the pipe was in place, he ran to the unlocked back door of the house and ran the faucet and used it like a water fountain until he tasted the vodka. He shut off the faucet and ran back outside. He replaced the turf he had ripped up to get to the pipes and hid the barrel behind a bush. He ran all the way home to wait ‘till Bill’s favorite Bar opened. When he was sure Bill would not be going, however, he moped.
His thought was now I have to find another buddy.
Bill got home a Quarter to four and plopped n his armchair. He flipped on the TV but did not watch. His thoughts were on Tom. He had been struck by how poorly he had treated him all those weeks ago. Perhaps he could get his old friend to come over and chat. Tom had been no dummy, just a drunken man who was otherwise wise. They could go to the Starbucks down the street, perhaps. Bill was thirsty, so he got himself a glass of water. When he had drunk it all, he realized what it was.
It must be my imagination. He thought. He wanted more. He found it was indeed an alcoholic beverage that he could not place the name of. The urge to drink more swept over him. Maybe he would go to the bar with Tom and they would both get plastered. In that instant, he realized he would never be able to get away clean. Beer would follow him everywhere and change shapes to lure him in. Like the devil he had recently begun to fear. He went to the fireplace, where the TV was. Underneath the mantle, he kept a handgun for emergencies. He put the barrel in his mouth and before he pulled the trigger, he reflected that it was good he wasn’t catholic. He laughed and pulled the trigger. The sound could be heard three streets away, where Tom lived.