Without anyone’s help

February 23, 2012

There’s something about being drunk. And trying to figure out the world. Especially with a friend. Like prospectors. Looking for gold. Fools looking for God. It is so common an experience. Like the Boy Scouts. Innocent.

I don’t drink much anymore. Body can’t take the punishment. And I don’t need the conversations. They go on inside my head now. Without anyone’s help.




Gerald sat carefully. Down in the middle of the parking lot. Not to spill. The glass of beer in his hand. Looked back at the stores. Lined up like criminals. Wanted in Japan. So lonely. In their emptiness. Thought of apples. Rotting in the compost. Thought of the last of the great plazas in the city. Replaced by malls. Fake villages of enterprise. Children painted with lipstick. Cars parked like patients in the EMERG. Waiting obediently. Some of them sporting clever bumper stickers. Others declaring their affection for the Supreme Being. And still others wearing faded messages long forgotten.

“Careful,” he said.

David stood over him. Waving back and forth. Like a flag. Handed his beer down to Gerald. Who set it down. Beside his own. Then David struggled. Set himself down on the pavement. First kneeling. Then sitting. He picked up his beer and took a swallow. He looked around at the parked cars, the large apartments in the distance, the planes climbing the sky behind him.

“So, this is life. I’ve known friends who came here. Sent postcards. Back. But I never really believed it existed.” David took a drink. Beer was flat. Tasted like piss. If he knew what piss tasted like.

“You don’t get it?” Gerald wanted to ask something else. But got detoured. By the postcards.

David looked around again.

“It’s flat,” he said. “Like the prairies. Except there’s no wheat. What happened to the wheat?”

“Man.” Gerald shook his head. He pointed to everything around him. “This is what we’re leaving to posterity.”

David looked at Gerald. He shook his head.

“Bet you can’t say that again.”

“Posterity? You dragged me out here in the middle of the night into the middle of the parking lot, huddled between these cars, to talk about posterity?”

“I left a woman in a bake shop. Thought she was in love. But she just liked the cup cakes. Isn’t it obvious?”

David looked around. He looked at Gerald and smiled.

“Of course it is. How could I miss it? You’d think I would have noticed it right off.”

Gerald smiled, satisfied. But he was wrong.

The smile on David’s face was replaced by impatience.

“What am I supposed to see?”

Gerald took a swallow of his beer.



“Like chocolate cake. Sweet to the eyes. Everywhere you go. Miles of miles. Beds of asphalt. A plague. Some virus spread on the Springer show. A kind of bomb. Blew up. Calling itself civilization. But destroyed just the same. We have fucked ourselves.”

Gerard raised his glass. And drank.

“Hell, I’ll drink to anything.” David raised his glass and finished it.

Gerald slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. Fortunately he had put his glass of beer down on the asphalt previous to his performance.

“Nothing left. No mules. No goats in the butcher shop. No beasts in the wild. No llamas on the tennis court. A big black flatness. Acres and acres of parking lots. Driveways. Highways. Basketball courts. Tar and nicotine. Rots your teeth. And your sense of perspective.”

“Basketball courts?” David looked puzzled. He didn’t like the feel. Of thinking outside the bar.

Gerald glared at David.

“The point is that all that will be left on the planet are the ruins of our society. Like those cities high in the mountains of Peru. We’ll just be one big fucking mystery. Like a cue ball. The whole planet.”

“To who?”


“Mystery to who? You said that there’d be nothing left.”

“I think you’re purposely trying to undermine my point,” Gerald said.

“If we’re going to be a mystery,” David said, “we have to be a mystery to someone. The sound of a tree falling in…”

“Okay,” Gerald conceded. “For the purposes of this argument we would be a mystery to the aliens.”

“You didn’t mention aliens,” David said.

“I didn’t.” Gerald said. “Aliens will land in space ships and won’t find anyone home.”

David shook his head. Thought for a moment then smiled.

“Well, at least they’ll have some place to land.”

Gerald glared at David for several moments.

“You don’t appreciate me,” Gerald said.

“Are you going to finish your beer?” David asked glancing sideways at his empty glass.

“I’ve been trying to raise. Your consciousness.” Gerald gestured with his hands. Which he normally never did. It was the alcohol talking. “She was fat. But I loved that girl. With her stubby fat fingers. In the frosting.”

Gerald finished his beer. Stood up. Could not. Fell back down. Then proceeded on all fours. Crawled towards a car parked close by. Pulled himself to his feet. David had watched all this. Began to laugh.

Gerald wiped his mouth with the windshield wiper. Leaned against the car.

David tried to climb to his feet. Just as unsuccessful as his friend.

“If those aliens landed,” Gerald said, “we’d be quite an example of humankind.”

Gerald staggered over to David to help him up. The two men leaned against each other.

“Real ambassadors.” David laughed as the two friends staggered arm in arm back into the bar.


One Response to “Without anyone’s help”

  1. You would have to be there at one time or another to know the feeling.
    It seems all too familiar.
    Great conversation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: