Friday, June 18, 2021

The Wilderness Years - Last Night i Told a Stranger All About You

 I was always good at getting drunk. Not that getting drunk has ever been my favorite intoxicant but it was always the most easily obtained and readily available. Usually when faced with a dilemma i got drunk. Maybe it wasn't the most effective way of solving the problem but it did make me feel a whole lot better... at least until the tipping point and the hangover and then i was right back to where i started. As the dawn rose on my first morning post-Veronica i stood in the kitchen making my lunch, numb and glum. I played it off as being tired and was nursing the remnants of a minor hangover from doing business the night before but that was pretty much the usual for me at this point. It was Veronica who was weighing relentlessly on my mind. 

As i drove to work there was a part of me that just didn't fucking care anymore... an epiphany for the stupid. But i knew there was nothing i could do... of course that would be a lie because there was one thing i could do that would shake up everything but it was basically out of the question. My mistress, the weed business, lorded over me like a dominatrix... and i let it. I understood that having read too many crime novels, having watched too many shit gangster movies. It's the business, the action, that takes front and center... what a fucking joke. I had more money than i knew what to do with rolling in and here i was feeling miserable. 

At work a few people took notice that i was rather unusually subdued. Of course i came in many times hungover so it was easy to pass it off as to much boozing or being stoned. As i wandered the aisles tossing boxes of PVC fitting and metal pipes onto shelves i daydreamed about catching Kenny and beating the shit out of him. It would definitely get me fired but it would also make me feel a lot better. Hell i'd probably be applauded by my co-workers but even this idea left me wanting. I didn't have the drive to knock out Kenny and since our little incident our boy Kenny had gone out of his way to be rather helpful and nice to me all while keeping a safe distance. The warehouse grunts found it hilarious... and then there was the business. Until Veronica Friday nights were usually spent hanging with the crew playing foosball and drinking, maybe a little business tossed in but most of the business i knocked off early so i could relax. 

On this night the calls were piling up and i made the decision to go with a full schedule down at the Corner Bar. I hadn't told the Crew why, of course they knew about Veronica and my capers, my Lt. even mentioning that i may be in trouble this time because he could tell i really had a thing for this girl. My plan was to knock the business off in a timely manner and then head to a bar where no one knew me, or at least i hoped no one would, and get proper drunk. It was my method to work through things though usually it didn't help me work through anything, it was more the comfort in the ritual. 

And so when i wrapped up business i bid Frannie the bartender goodnight. She asked if i was okay, that i seemed a little off, i smiled at her and said "women", Frannie laughed and mentioned she had an idea what it was, Frannie being like a mom to the wayward kids who came to drink at the bar including Veronica, and added there are probably a lot of guys out there who wished they had my problems. I nodded and gave a half-hearted grin and hit the street. Knowing every dive in the East End i hit a place i didn't hang often, the typical low key drinker's bar. I took a seat at the bar where i could watch the Friday night traffic of Liberty Ave. It was quiet, no jukebox playing, the hum of the television turned to some late night movie, maybe half a dozen people in the place. The guy a few stools over was trying to start up a conversation. At first i wasn't all that keen buy as i hit my second drink i started talking... and it poured out of me like booze from the bottle. 

I changed the names and kept the timeframe vague because one only knows who knows who in the hood. I didn't think this guy knew anyone i was talking about because he was a bit older but better to keep the cards close. It was a therapy session. I recounted the story of Veronica as it related to the King of North Oakland, not giving away the fact the so-called King was a master of a burgeoning weed empire, a veritable one man weed distribution machine. I talked of how beautiful she was, how she had a good soul, how she was kind, how i wanted to sweep her up and take her away. When he asked why i didn't i danced around it a bit before revealing that i actually lived with another woman. Ah! he said, i get it you dawg! He patted me on the back and began telling stories about his exes none of which were all that interesting or entertaining but were distraction enough for me as we debated the merits of the male-female relationship. I bought his drinks as we talked and he thanked me. This being a barfly bar i'm sure he was thanking his lucky stars and at one point i bought a round for the place which was greeted with grunts and nods.  

Of course all roads of discourse led back to Veronica and the more i drank the more i talked. Soon i was talking about the trip, about picking her up at the airport, about how brilliant she was, how she handled the fuzz when we got back, how she dealt with and helped diffuse the impending brawl at the pub, how i met her at the strip club, how she refused my advances until she dumped her hoodrat. My drinking partner nodded and mentioned how great she sounded... and i explained how i fucked it all up but refrained from telling him because i had another mistress that ruled everything or as the Wu-Tang said... CREAM... cash rules everything around me. I was making too much money and it was an addictive drug along with the status, the power... all else took a backseat and because of it i let a brilliant woman walk out of my life with a whisper. The drinks kept coming. Saturday morning was going to be rough.


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