I woke up the next morning,
mouthful of strong cigarettes and bad whisky.
My lungs felt like lead weights.
it sounded like Tom Waits, singing in the gutter,
so I knew there was hope.
I got up. I couldn’t sleep, I just lay there sweating, tossing and flapping like a freshly-caught fish. Booze does that to you. You think it’ll knock you out; that you’ll sleep like a kitten for the night but then you awake on a sweat-wet pillow, and then it’s finished.
I lay in bed an hour or so, unable to shut my head up. The room was dark but in my head someone had flipped a switch. Transitory thoughts, each following the other down the fuddled highway of my mind, flickered on and off, on and off. What I had to do today. What I had to to this week. What? Whatever.
I got up, grabbed my book, made a coffee and made myself comfortable on the cold leather sofa, and lost myself in story.
I had a heavy chest and a cough that wouldn’t come, my airways blocked by too many cigarettes accompanying too many drinks throughout a drunken evening with drunker friends and a happy barman. My mouth was layered from beer, from wine, from gin, from the back shelf where no one sober goes.
The coffee steamed on the coffee-table (what if I drunk tea?) but I drank it, hoping to change the thick, stale, toothpaste-on-alcohol taste in my mouth. My throat burned but something moved. My chest moved. I coughed: it sounded like Tom Waits singing. That was an improvement.
Early morning coffee with Bukowski. I finished the first short story and stared at the page a while before closing the book and closing my eyes.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town had just died.