My New Year’s Eve ended with a glass of Johnny Walker Black in my hand at the first floor of the Fort Greene Observatory. I had one sip and chucked the rest in the sink. It was 5am and I was glad that the winter night possessed another hour before the dawn.
The greater part of my morning was spent licking my wound in bed.
My body at 58 doesn’t snap back into shape like it did when I was 23 or 34 or 53, although my mind was sharp enough to read A LIFE by the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards without any urge to consume drugs or drink and I went to sleep sober, although I doubted that I could pass a breathalyzer test, then again no one was asking me to operate any heavy machinery this early in the year.
Jan 2 offered gray skies over Fort Greene. My good friend Andrew called from Millbrook.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better than yesterday. Have you had drink yet?” I imagined the stuttering Englishman in a fluffy robe by a fireplace with his wife and lovely daughter.
“Finished off t-t-three bottles of red yesterday. W-w-w-what about you?”
“Been living like a Taliban.” I have a stutter too and his wife says our conversations are like the battle of two stuck records.
“T-t-th-that’s no good.” Andrew was English. They like their drink. “Did you say t-t-that you never want to drink again?”
“No, it wasn’t t-t-that bad.” His stuttering was infectious. “I’ll drink later.”
“Don’t disappoint me.”
I’m not a poster boy for THE SAVE THE WINOS campaign. I was stronger than the grape, but as I was walking by the Green Grape on Fulton I found myself drawn into the wine store by the magnetism of the pretty bottles. I picked out a Riesling priced at $12 for a liter. I could already taste the cheapness of its season, however the clerk was tearing off the wrapping of a bottle of champagne.
“I’m working alone. Care to join me in a glass?” Earl was tattooed to his jaw. I was friendly with the entire staff of the Green Grape. My name was James Steele on their computer. They read my short stories. Earl was a fan
“Who am I to say no?” The bubbles rolled down my gullet and hit my stomach. The burn of alcohol was all too familiar. I thanked Earl and headed home with the first taste of wine on my tongue.
In vino veritas – Pliny the Elder
In more wine more truth – James Steele