I keep licking my lips and staring at the glass of wine cupped in my mother-in-law’s hands, her palms wrapped around the goblet warming the already room temperature Pinot Noir with her body heat and she almost seems to be massaging the delicate glass with her pork link sausage fingers. I’m a beer and bourbon type of guy and think wine is pure rotgut that gives me nothing but piercing want to start a bar fight headaches and neon yellow piss. But I’m a week into my promise to Megan to cut back on my drinking.
My girl’s on an anti-booze kick.
I don’t know where it’s coming from? All I know is that I came home from shift four days ago and headed to the fridge to grab a Bud from the twelver I picked up the night before and there was nothing there. I rummaged around in the fridge, checked the pantry just in case I stashed some in there the night before and forgot about it. I was starting to get a little pissed, tossing cereal boxes, the dog food bag, and plastic grocery sacks out the pantry door, scattering it everywhere, looking for my beers. I finally got pissed enough to call for Megan, who was somewhere in the house.
“Megan!” I yelled.
“WHAT!” She yelled back, standing right behind me, her arms crossed, her face creased in what I call her, ‘I’m going to rip your balls off’ look.
“Where’s my beer?” I asked, my voice coming out kind of whiny and desperate, and Meg’s expression went from raging pissed to her, ‘Oh you sad, depraved shit’, expression and then she spent the next two hours telling me all the reasons why my drinking worried her.
Two hours to tell me she didn’t want me going and dying on her because I liked to drink too much.
I didn’t try to make excuses, I didn’t try to fight her, I just sat and listened, nodding my head occasionally. At the end of it, I agreed to cut back; not quit outright, but slow it down; have just one beer instead of a six pack; sip my whiskey instead of shooting it. It was a reasonable request. But she did want me to quit for a little while, one month; one month to dry out. I balked a little at that one, but gave in once her eye liner started streaking.
The first few days went alright, I stuck with Cokes and some Percocet’s I had left over from a minor shoulder surgery to take the edge off the end of the day. It did the trick, I could sleep most nights; Meg complained about my snoring some—one of the effects of the pills—and not being able to wake me up to tell me I was snoring. I got my five hours in though, enough to function, enough to make it through my shift.
Day four really fucked with me.
The pills didn’t do shit. I swallowed four at 11 PM of day 3 and another three at 2 AM of day 4. I was all wired up, pacing the living room; if I smoked, I imagined I would’ve gone through a pack no problem; I didn’t think about drinking though, never even crossed my mind.
I showered up and put on my uniform at 6 on the dot; reported to duty at 6:15, signed out my cruiser at 6:30.
Day 4 was my last day before I went 48 hours off. It started off normal enough: AM traffic patrol, pulled over a few speeders, had a couple of them spit at me, tear up the ticket I handed over to them, usual shit. It wasn’t until the end of my shift when dispatched called out a 261.
16 year old girl, still in high school.
And I was the lucky one to be first on scene
I was the first one to take down the victim statement.
I was the one to call the mother, the father, victim services, the works.
I drove home on pins and needles; the girl’s beaten, bloody face, the bruises on her upper arms where the creep held her down were burned into my swollen red eyes.
You don’t forget that shit, ever.
I wanted a beer; I wanted to drown in oceans of it.
I pulled into the garage, walked inside the house and that’s when Meg sprung her little surprise on me: We were headed over to her mom’s house for dinner.
And here we were; here I was, watching the fat cunt drink her wine, giving me her little knowing smile.
I’m still on pins and needles and my right leg has mind of its own, it’s jumping with its own internal rhythm;
Meg tries holding it down, but it’s no use.
I don’t feel my body move off the couch.
I don’t feel my hand grip the old bag’s wine glass while she’s got it up to her mouth.
I do feel the glass crack against my mother-in-laws denatures, for some reason it seems like she’s trying to take a bite; she’s trying to hold onto the goblet with her teeth.
I only cut her a little, just a few droplets on the now jagged rim.
Meg’s mom is huddled over, down on the off white carpet, she’s screaming something like: “I told you! I told you!”
Meg’s on her feet and she’s giving me a look three other women in my life have given me once. The look says: ‘I’ll be calling a divorce lawyer in the morning.’
And I give her a look right back as I shoot down her mother’s Pinot Noir, swallowing the blood, the shattered glass, and all the rest, that says: ‘What else did you expect, baby, you’re my fourth wife?’
Keith Rawson lives in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Gilbert with his wife and daughter. He’s had fiction published (or waiting to be published) in such venues as DZ Allen’s Muzzle Flash fiction, PowderBurn Flash, Flashshots, Darkest before the Dawn, A Twist of Noir, Bad Things, Crooked, Pulp Pusher, CrimeWaV.com (podcast), Plots with Guns, Flash Fiction Offensive, Yellow Mama, and Beat to a Pulp. He is also working on the final draft of his first novel which is tentatively titled, Retirement. Check out his blog http://bloodyknucklescallusedfingertips.blogspot.com/