Old Friends

I’m tired and cranky and restless. Even with functional air conditioning, my apartment is confining and choking me, like a necktie. There are no less than four parties in my little corner of this condo complex this evening, blowing laughter and smoke over to me. Nobody’s being obnoxious or rude. Even the partygoers lining the sidewalk don’t chat too loudly. But still they chafe. 

I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I had a few options when I did. In Jersey City, salvation lay on my stoop, where I’d sprawl out on the stairs, take a hit off a hash pipe, light up a cigarette or two, and let my mind wander. In no time at all, I’d be jotting down colorful words, whether they be the musings of disgraced demigods, the rantings of confused college students, or the minimalist observations of a boy and his depressed, talking dog. 

If my imaginary friends weren’t speaking to me, it was just a short jog down the block to the corner pub to a cute bartender who knew what I wanted to drink, a foaming-at-the-mouth divorcee, a tough old broad, and a guy I’m positive worked for the mafia.  

In Bloomington, Indiana, things were simpler. I had wine, cigarettes, and the company of my wife. 

Tonight, though, my wife is out of town for a little bit. But more than anything, I want to kill this mood with a bottle of rye and some menthol. I’m trying to remind myself why I can’t have those things anymore. I mean, why can’t I slip around the corner to the drinking establishment, ordered a drink and a pack of cigarettes? Why can’t I creep downstairs to the kids on my sidewalk, bum a smoke and a paper cup of rum? What if I just stopped there? What’s the harm? 

The harm is that I can’t stop there. I’ve proven that to myself repeatedly. I had my fun, and now it’s time for the echoes on the sidewalk and the balconies around me to have theirs. I’ll just yearn from my yonder window and soak up some ambience. 

It’s midnight now, and the crowds are thinning out.  

Kids these days: no stamina. 

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