The Little Boy.

The man walked along the partially wet sidewalk, sheltered from the drizzling rain by the canopy just above the liquor store.  He stared down at the ground, mind blank and yet processing. He mulled over the death, sifting through his personal reaction to it all.  The rain beckoned for a safe haven, and so into the liquor store he went.  Half mentally present, he proffered a half smile and a swallowed hello before proceeding to look at the various elixirs that stood before him, an ever-present army of vigilant soldiers waiting to be ordered, braving the jarring cold.  “Not strong enough” was the verdict on these soldiers, and so he drifted quietly to the counter, measuring his every step in silence before marking the options that were shelved behind the store clerk.  Between his old friend Morgan and the clear gin, he settled decidedly on the Johnnie Walker, hoping it wouldn’t take long for him to feel and forget in its warmth.  He asked the clerk for the Black Label, and he reached into his back pocket for his wallet to reimburse the apothecary.  Upon holding the neck of the bottle, he turned to leave and stepped into a memory.  He had been playing with his father’s mug, not realizing that there was still coffee in it, and the lukewarm liquid came spilling out over the brim, onto the freshly ironed white shirt that had been prepared for work.  His father turned the corner just as it happened, and he remembered seeing his father processing the scene.  He began to try and use tissues to wipe up the coffee, but it wasn’t working; the shirt was just brown.  His father picked him up and smiled at him, telling him that this was why we didn’t play with Daddy’s cups, and then he took the shirt to the bathroom and tried to get the stain out as soon as he could.  The stained shirt sat soaking in bleach as his father went to iron a sky blue shirt in its stead.  His father hurriedly put on the blue shirt and said goodbye to him and his mother, leaving for the day to go to work.  All that he remembered next was his father coming home, staring a thousand miles beyond everything that he looked at, and crumpling into the dining room chair, elbows on the table, hands in his hair.  His mother saw this and went to comfort him, saying that it was going to be okay and that he would get back on his feet.  His father had nothing to say, and he went to the glass cabinet and took out the big glass bottle with the caramel-brown water inside, and he poured it into a little cup.  He drank, poured again. Drank, poured again. Drank, poured again. Drank.  His father was never the same after that day, and when he didn’t come home one night, the little boy cried.  He cried knowing that it was his fault Daddy didn’t love him.  He cried because he didn’t know what he was doing that made Daddy so upset.  He cried because he never before had to hope Daddy would come home.  The little boy cried then, and as the man stepped back out into the rain, the little boy cried now.

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