The Beginning for Abraham
Fucking phone. Fucking people on the fucking phone. We’ve decided to go in a different direction. Your resume was impressive but. But. But. Fuck.
And now the cell phone was in several pieces. Beneath the painting his sister made one night while she was high on cocaine. Suddenly, the red made sense. The sharp edges of all those fucking squares made fucking sense. Suddenly, he loved it. Like, whole-world-loved-it.
Shit. He could see clear through the bottle and that meant he was out of whisky. That meant if he wanted more he’d have to get up off the couch, throw on a shirt, throw on some pants, throw up and walk down the street to the corner liquor store and buy another bottle of whisky with money he was running out of.
He smelled it. Fucking dog. No, shut your fucking mouth, it was a piece of God, this dog. All he had left. She was a goddamn gorgeous beast, White German Shepherd. Graceful, quiet, but old. Incontinent. Arthritic, and then, suddenly, he was crying.
Abraham was crying.
Abraham was crying. Nervous that he’d said so many curse words, what would his mother say? That wasn’t him, she’d say, that’s not how he was brought up, she’d say, and the shame of that foul mouth, the cheap way to avoid the very real God-given purpose of anger, made him cry.
The fact that he was a well-educated man who could not get a job, a well-educated, well-liked, fully qualified white man who could not get a goddamn fucking job in this backshit hole of a, no, no, no, deep breaths. Deep breaths.
Pull on some pants, Abraham, go on to Cork’s and get a bottle of whisky and drink through it. That’s what his grandmother would say. God, did his mother’s apple fall off the tree and then roll down the hill.
He hoped she’d not had diarrhea. She’d gotten into the garbage yesterday and something was missing—it wasn’t a full bag anymore—and he wasn’t sure what it was, but god, he hoped whatever it was hadn’t given her diarrhea. He couldn’t handle it right now. He saw her from the kitchen doorway. Her snout. She was in front of the refrigerator.
That made him throw up. “Thank god for hardwood floors,” he yelled out loud to her and then he started laughing. He’d have to go on food stamps. He’d never even seen a food stamp. He drove an Acura, and he’d have to drive up to the Welfare Office in it and get food stamps.
“C’mere, girl.” LuLu pulled herself up to her feet and casually crossed to him. He sat on the floor and hugged her.
“Dija shit it out everywhere? Huh. Cover the linoleum. Huh.”
She sat in front of him and he saw the whites of her eyes and it scared him for some reason.
“I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna take care of it.” He stood up, “But I gotta take care of me first, I gotta get whisky, whisky, whisky.” He found his pants, grabbed a T-shirt from off the bed.
“I’ma be back in a minute.” Then he fought the door. The lock stuck often enough, a yank was the only way out. And then, the top lock had to be latched or a breeze would blow the door open.
“Shit house.” He laughed at that, “I’ma smart. Man. Making jokes! Y’hear that, Lu-Bear?, making jokes. Like this.” And with that he pulled the door shut and took off down a steep driveway made the slicker by light rain from that morning.
Abraham didn’t get far when it happened.
A loose acorn, a goddamn acorn, under the shoe, and down he went. He slid to the sidewalk by the street. A ribbon of red darkening his T-shirt. He didn’t feel the pain, but he saw it. He wasn’t going back, though. He didn’t go back. He never turned around. He didn’t even brush himself off. He stood up and went straight down Brook Street imagining the passers-by silently feeling pity for this handsome young man beat up by the world. That’s what they think, he told himself.
The woman in the Cadillac, she had white hair, she thought, This poor man. Look at him. What can we do to help him? He’s too young, bless his heart. The man in the loud truck was thinking, Fuck. Been there. That guy, look at him, he’s got potential, and then Abraham giggled. Men in loud trucks don’t use words like potential. He waved at him, if the man even saw him, as a way of saying Thank You.
Abraham thanked them all, each passer-by. Plenty of kindness to be had, if only kindness were hiring. You won’t last another month, Abraham. If that. No, count by the days, he told himself, it sounds like more. You won’t last more than thirty days, Abraham. Thirty’s a lot. He counted them out loud as he walked. One day, and then, the second day, and then, the third day, and then by the time he got to thirty-one, he was outside the liquor store.
Thirty-one, he said because this is July.
The way back was less eventful. The intoxication had worn off a bit. The rain had stilled and made the air sharper, colder. His scrape had started drying into his T-shirt and he knew he’d have to pull it out of the new skin, more blood, he’d do it in the bathtub. His head had begun a dull ache. He needed to be home, he wanted the couch, he—shit. Shit was in the kitchen. Vomit in the living room.
Drink through it. Drink and clean. The wind wasn’t strong, but god, a jacket would’ve been smart.
He looked up and saw a car had stopped in the middle of the road at the edge of the cross-street to his house. A woman, a beige trench coat, was bending down in front of her. Another car, a red one, had flashers on. A man was getting out of it.
Another wreck. Apropos. Of course, in front of his house. Naturally. The world was taking no chances in letting Abraham know how little he was thought of.
Move on, he thought. Exchange insurance, cell numbers, move on. Move on.
It was then he realized he should have bought club soda. What did he have in the refrigerator? Orange juice. Yes. Coke. Yes. But he didn’t want those. Straight, hell, just shoot the shit, he needed eggs, and bread. No milk. There was no bologna, either. Fuck it, not right now, later, later.
He crossed the side street, Hogan, and was close enough to see the woman, and the man, that they were closer to his house than he thought. Close enough to see that they were nearly in his driveway. Close enough now to see that there hadn’t been a wreck. Close enough to see that she was bent over a dog. A White German Shepherd. Close enough now to see that his front door was wide open. Close enough to see the man comfort the woman. Close enough to see the dog wasn’t breathing.
Close enough and yet, he might as well have been on the moon.
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