Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day!
So as a belated St. Patrick’s Day post, I looked for a scene from a story when someone gets drunk. It only took like five minutes to remember this scene. It’s from”When You Were Young, the conclusion to the Children of Eternity series. This is actually before the story goes way off the rails. In this scene our hero Samantha has come from her island home, where she’s the oldest of a group of children who thanks to an evil reverend and the Fountain of Youth have been stuck there for centuries. Anyway, Sam has just met with her boyfriend Joe, who said he wants to go to college in California. He wanted Sam to go with him, but she can’t leave her young charges on the island. So she does what any normal kid her age does–she goes to a bar, gets drunk, and terrorizes the bartender and patrons.
Chapter 3: Blackout
Samantha walked along the waterfront, hands thrust in pockets and eyes focused on her feet as she thought. How could she think Joseph had changed? California! How long had he been planning to go there? Why hadn’t he said anything to her about this? They might have worked out a solution or compromise then. To spring this on her after sending out the application and being accepted was a betrayal she couldn’t forgive.
Near the end of the docks she saw a flickering neon sign for Budweiser. She remembered the cans of this sitting in the cellar of Pryde’s hut. She salivated at the memory. She didn’t suppose one beer could hurt. It would make her feel better. She couldn’t feel much worse.
A sign outside the ramshackle building read ‘Grey Oyster Pub.’ She pushed open the door, the familiar and welcome smell of beer greeting her nostrils. “Hey girlie, no kids allowed,” said an overweight man behind the bar.
“I’m not a kid,” she said. “I’m twenty-one.”
“Sure you are. Make with the ID then.”
“I left it at home.”
“Then get lost. I ain’t running a tree house.”
She reached into her pocket and took out a pair of bills. “Here’s twenty-one for you. Now give me a beer.” The bartender stared at the money a moment and then snatched it from Samantha’s hand. He slammed down a bottle of Budweiser in front of her. She took a pull, noting how much better it tasted cold.
The only other person in the Grey Oyster Pub was an old man resting his head on the counter, a bottle in his hand. She drank three beers by the time he raised his head and said, “I know you.”
“How could you know me? I haven’t been in here before.”
“Don’t mind old Floyd. He says that to all the girls, when we get any. Not many’d be seen in this dump.”
“I seen you before, only you wasn’t like you is now. You wasn’t as pretty then.” He smiled at her with a mouth missing all but three teeth. She spit beer onto the counter.
“Floyd, you drive away any more customers and I’ll drown your sorry ass,” the bartender said.
“He doesn’t bother me,” Samantha said. She motioned to the bartender for another beer. Her head felt lighter, but she still felt the sadness in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to drink enough to eradicate Joseph from her memory, to wipe away the last three years he’d been pretending to care about her as anything other than a pawn in his game. She gulped down the fifth beer in seconds. When the bartender reached for another, she said, “Bring me something stronger.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough, girlie?”
“I’m only getting started.” He poured her a glass of whiskey, sliding it to her as she’d seen in a movie. Joseph had been sitting at her side then, his hand on her knee. She threw back the shot. The bartender brought her another one.
“It isn’t fair,” she said. She couldn’t see straight and her head kept bobbing side to side and yet the memories and pain remained. “I want to go with him. I mean, I love him. I think. He’s so nice and that body, oh my God, he has the best ass. When he’s sleeping, I like to put my hand on there—”
“OK, girlie, you’ve had enough. I think you better get lost,” the bartender said, clearing away her glass and empty bottles. She reached across the counter to grab his shirtfront.
“I’m getting sick of your attitude,” she said. “You think you’re so much better than me because you’re some old man and I’m a cute little girl. Well, I got news for you, pal: I’m fifty years old. So fuck you and your ‘girlie’ and your ID and all that shit. Keep the drinks coming and keep your opinions to yourself.”
She shoved him against the back wall, bottles of liquor rattling. With a trembling hand he set a bottle of vodka and a glass before her. She helped herself, filling the glass all the way to the top before throwing it back. “That’s more like it.” The bartender started to slink off towards the side. “You stay right here. Call the police after I’m gone.”
“Hey, look, kid, don’t hurt me. I got a wife and a couple little ones back home, all right? I don’t want no trouble.” He emptied the cash register, piling the cash before her. “Take this and go, all right?”
“I don’t want your fucking money. Just stand there and shut up,” she said. “Men. You suck, every last one of you.”
She threw down another drink. “You think I’ll just pack up my life and go with you across the country because I love you? Oh sure, I’ll go get a fucking GED and go to college and get me a real education. Yes, Master, whatever you say, Master.” She hurled the glass against the wall, showering Floyd with the shards. He didn’t notice. “I ain’t your goddamned slave. I ain’t his slave and I wasn’t the reverend’s fucking slave either. They’re the same really, when you think about it. A bunch of assholes.”
She flailed around in search of her glass before realizing she’d smashed it. She set her head on the counter and cried. “It’s not fair,” she moaned. “He doesn’t understand. I got two kids to take care of.” She reached into her pocket and took out a photograph taken last summer at a nearby lake. Molly stood next to her on one side and Becky on the other, all three of them in bathing suits. She had an arm around each girl, Molly smiling from beneath an oversized straw hat while Beck grimaced as though she’d eaten something sour. Samantha showed the picture to the bartender.
“Look at those two. Aren’t they the sweetest little kids you ever saw? Poor little Molly got sunburned so bad. She was red as a lobster for two weeks. And Becky, she was miserable the whole time. She kept bitching the suit made her look fat. Well, she is fat. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think she looks cute. What do you think?”
“They’re beautiful children.”
“Damn right. You think I’m going to leave them to go across the country with some jerk? I raised them up myself the last three years. I’m the closest thing to a mother they have in the whole world. He thinks I’m going to give that up for him? That jerk. I’m going to find him and give him a piece of my mind and then I’m going to knee him in the balls until he cries like a little girl.” She laughed hysterically and then threw whatever money she had at the bartender. “That should cover it. Thanks for the booze.”
She weaved her way to the door, feeling as though she were walking on clouds. Out in the night, she turned and set off to find Joseph. I’ll show him, she thought.
She continued to wobble along the docks, running into someone. “Watch where you’re going,” she said. She spun away and plunged onwards. Where had she left the car? She couldn’t remember. “Car? Here car, car, car, car. Come to Mommy.” Nothing happened. “I’ll just wait here,” she said. She went to sit down on a crate, but landed face-first on a pile of netting. She tried to get up, but her limbs became entangled in the nets.
She stopped fighting and managed to roll over and look up at the night sky. The stars whirled around and around, elongating into comets before her eyes. She whooped with delight at this cosmic display put on just for her. “Who needs him anyway?” she said before passing out.
She wakes up later with one hell of a hangover. Which goes to show you shouldn’t get drunk and pass out on an unfamiliar dock because crazy people could abduct you and dip you in the Fountain of Youth. How many times does that have to happen before we start really doing something about it? Come on!
Oh yeah, and much later I remembered there’s a scene later in the story (Chapter 17) where a grown Samantha is in the same bar and drunk, only this was years earlier.
The next two Sundays I’m concocting another March Madness-style literary tournament. This year I’m going to take all my 1-star and 2-star reviews and decide which earns the title: Worst Book EVER!!!