Talk 13 – Ladder

short story about drinking alcohol

Short Story

 

But I think we are overstaying our welcome. I invite everyone upstairs. We still have half a bottle of whiskey and some roasted almonds.
You’re fine. I don’t get many visitors and it’s a beautiful day.
No, he is right we should go. I like whiskey.
You’re going to drink now?
You drink wine every day.
Yes, one glass not to get drunk but to meditate on my day. You drink to get drunk.
I drink to see with lighter eyes to alter my perspective at least for a few hours.
Just don’t over do it.
Don’t worry neighbor we will just have some gentlemen time.
I will stay here then.
Please do, ladies time. I will bring a bottle of wine.
There you go.
Your window is open, can we climb the fire escape?
If our host doesn’t mind.
Just be careful.
Alright, FIFO, one by one up the metal ladder.
It’s rusty. Are you sure it’s safe? The city clerks inspect once a year. If it beaks we will sue the city.
Comforting. Here I go. The garden looks nice from up here. I see the whiskey on the table.
That’s a good motivator.
Yes, I will get five glasses ready.
I am next on my way, pour me a double.
Neighbor, go next.
I feel younger already. I see the whiskey, too. Bye honey!
Have fun!
And now you, Bear. I’ll go last.
Thank you for the painting. I will send the rest of the money tomorrow.
Just don’t drop it.
Enjoy the wine, ladies. We are a whisper away if you need anything.
We will be fine. Thank you.
Hand the painting through the window.
Here you go.
Whiskey time! Thanks for having me.
Thanks for joining us!
Your apartment is exactly the same as ours. Like a mirror image.
Cheers!
Salut! Where’s the fifth member? I know you’re a gang of five.
Oh, he’s busy. He had exams next week and had to study.
Ah, yes, whiskey is not good for exams.
It’s good for after the exams.
That’s true.
He is also getting married soon and his priorities are shifting.
They’re shifting away from whiskey and closer to mortgages and other such things.
I remember when I was your age I had a bachelor’s apartment with a little terrace in the back where I drank my morning coffee. It was a good deal, the rent. But I was facing a school yard and it was noisy all the time. Kids shouting and buzzing like bees. I had several bottles of whiskey on my shelf from all over the world. Now I just have a wife.
She’s a great lady. You’re a lucky man.
I am, I am. This whiskey is good. Well balanced, whisper of raisiny sweetness, pear on the nose as well as some stone fruit – mango and peach. Subtle smoke on the finish and toffee vanilla. It’s finished in a sherry cask for at least two years.
Wow, you know your whiskeys!
Like I said, I used to be married to whiskey.
Haha, I am married to it now.
It’s a good relationship for a time, a one-way; you just take and you don’t give anything back. But it emptied your soul.
I like my soul empty.
That’s because you are young.
Maybe. What else do you know about whiskey?
I used to take frequent vacations inside the bottle.
Until?
Until she came along, dropped a ladder inside and I climbed it. Slowly and reluctantly.
Now you’re out.
No, not yet apparently. I am sitting atop the mouth of the bottle.
How is the view from there?
It’s wide and clear.
That’s good.
Not necessarily. It is good if your thoughts are in order, if your parents did a good job in your first ten years.
Tell me about it.
That is, they didn’t.
If they didn’t, like in my case.
In all our cases, except the bear.
That’s me. Cheers!
If they didn’t you don’t like the clear panoramas that spun around you.
What do you like?
I miss seeing the world through the imperfections of the glass when I was inside. Sounds a muffled and images vague and bended by bottle. I find beauty in that.
We all do!
No, my wife doesn’t. She likes to see things clear because she was raised right, like the bear.
See, I am not the only one.
Some people never climb the ladder.
Most don’t.
You think they are happier inside.
Happiness doesn’t depend upon if you are inside or out.
What does it depend on?
Your mindset.
So the first ten years again?
Indeed.
Is there a way out?
Out of the first ten?
Yes.
I haven’t found one. The yogis that live in caves have. But they isolate themselves from all stimuli and have no responsibilities.
So for a modern working person, we are programmed by our parents?
Yes.
How about our biochemical make up?
We are slaves to that too. It’s not a black and white issue. It’s more complex than that.
No solution!
There are two: a cave or whiskey.

 

next chapter: TALK 14 – ACTS

previous chapter: TALK 12 – CIRCLES

all chapters: TALK

more by PETER ODEON

photograph by John Salzarulo

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