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Last Call

                                    Cliffton Price

You liked to drink. You liked everything about it. You liked the hours you spent on Main Street, your hands in your pockets, your eyes peeled, looking for that special twenty-one-year-old someone to drive by who had nothing better to do than take your money and turn it into booze. You liked drinking cold beer in the even colder woods in the wintertime and how good the snow felt against your flushed face on the occasional nights you fell into it puking. You liked stealing Genesee from your father’s basement keg, sitting down there around an old kitchen table, drinking from a frosted mug, sometimes by yourself, sometimes with your buddies, you sitting with your back to the tap, and, when someone needed a refill, leaning back in your chair and swiveling your torso and pulling them one without even getting up. You liked bringing the mugs upstairs where you could drink right in the open, like an adult. And you liked filling up empty two-liter bottles and taking them out of your house in a little red Pizza Hut duffle bag and walking to the park in broad daylight with your contraband at your side and stashing the bottles in the creek where they’d stay cold until you could get back to them later.

You liked drinking outside on hot summer nights, in the woods, or at that little gravel turnaround up on Popish Road, where you could look up at the stars and have one of your friends get philosophical about them. You liked drinking on warm fall days that turned into crisp fall nights and the growing-numb feeling of getting wasted while the colored leaves swirled down around you and the sky was so blue it hurt and you could smell winter coming from just over the next hill. You liked drinking in all seasons but especially in the winter in the backseat of your buddy’s Citation, the whole car packed full with your friends, the beer at either the front seat passenger’s feet or at somebody in the back’s feet. You liked passing forward beers through the space in the seats when the driver or the front passenger called for one, having them passed back the same way to you when you deemed it time for another.  

You liked beer the best but you liked other booze as well. You liked hard liquor, especially whiskey, especially Jim Beam—give you a bottle of Jim and a bag of ice and a glass and a chair and you were Buddha reincarnate—but you didn’t like it mixed unless it was mixed into a more sophisticated and tasty concoction than a Rum and Coke or a Seven and Seven. You liked going on trips to get the booze, staying at home and waiting for it to be delivered, walking to go get it knowing it was there waiting for you. You liked holding it in your hands and bringing it to your lips. You liked knowing that you were drinking and nobody was going to stop you. You liked wasting away an entire day with drink. You liked just a couple drinks, you liked a couple dozen drinks, you liked drinking for days on end. It didn’t matter what time it was: if you were up and it was there and you had the time or could manage it, you were drinking. You liked drinking so much that one night found you on the floor in front of the toilet in the bathroom of your apartment in a city you’d just moved to where you knew hardly no one—and those you did only barely—with your head shaved and the phone in your hand telling yourself over and over that if the body tremors and the head pain and the “Jesus fuck! I’m gonna die here” feeling got any worse, you’d call 911, you’d do it, you would, so help you fucking God.

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