Luther couldn’t seem to stop drinking Brandy before bed. He would take his favorite green glass made in the forties and pour himself a couple ounces—maybe three and take the first sip in front of the kitchen counter, then turn down the kitchen light and head for his bed. He liked his bed, the multiple spreads from different countries and a mattress that he could sink into yet held him perfectly well.
Luther’s doctor told him not to mix alcohol with his benzos before bed, but he paid him no mind. But then again, he did, because every morning he would awake, the green glass tipped on his coverlet, lying there like a remnant on the curb left by a hobo. He vowed, once he was fully alert, that he wasn’t going to drink tonight. Have I become my father—an alcoholic at forty-two. And then he would surrender to a higher power like in a twelve-step program. God make me willing to go to sleep differently. Be it morning, he was more certain, willimg, he would only drink soda at bedside. Yet lingering there was insidious doubt.
On Tuesday, he awoke with his usual questioning of himself, yet he had slept with the lamp on all night and his watch was still buckled on his wrist. His left eye was burning and tearing, his face felt puffy and he had a current of anxiety running through him-a vibration like an electric neck massager with no benefit of comfort.
He didn’t want to look in the mirror afraid of his own reflection, and when he did, he was affirmed. His eyes were glassy, his face a bit pale and puffy and he had never seen his hair so sleep disturbed–the crown sticking up, and his front waves unruly. What a lady, what a night, the song came to him, but there was no lady and no night.
He traced his steps before bed the night before; he had eaten some crackers and cheese a few chips and brought a cookie with his brandy to bed. He questioned his intention remembering he wasn’t even hungry but ate anyway. This too was becoming a pattern, but his body showed no increase,
He went back to the mirror. Luther, take a good look at yourself—he felt saddened because looking good was a value of his and to think Brandy and cookies could soon diminish him was frightening. It was the habit that brought him distress—how easily he forgot his morning vow after dusk.
His cell rang breaking his down-the-tubes spiral and he walked to the kitchen and answered, “Awe Luther, You’re up.”
“Of course, I am up Jameson. How are you? What has got you chirping at 9 am?
“A party Luther. Wanted to invite you to a birthday bash. You know Wilmot.
“Yes, a nice rich chap, that Wilmot.”
“Yes, yes. He is having a party Saturday and what a line up, Luther.”
Luther opened the kitchen window; “A line up.”
“Yes, he is having the Boy toys perform, a few drag queens, if that is politically correct these days, the very best, Ms. Mimi Fletcher, Sarah Dee and Tranquilla!
“You mean the big eye-lashed girl of a boy with the Patti La Belle voice.”
“Yes, her Luther.”
“She is a bit loud and you know full of herself.”
“You’re just jealous.” Luther laughed and took a sip of cold coffee.
“And Luther, it’s a dress up affair. Get out your, you know stylish stuff.”
“You mean no sweats.” They laughed.
“And Luther, there will be plenty of booze; you know how you love your booze.
Luther paused. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I think you might be thinking of Luther Vandross.
“He’s dead.” Jameson piped up. “Gees, Luther, you’re touchy this morning. I can hear it in your voice.”
Luther wandered away musing. (Does Jameson have a camera hooked up in my room—a circuit to my brain?)
Jameson lit a cigarette, “Luther to Jameson, come in please, Luther.”
“Well, it’s a touchy subject, alcohol. “I don’t like being called a boozer.”
“I didn’t say that; you like your alcohol. For God’s sake Luther, you and half of America and even more, Gay men under 35. I love you Luther, such a sensitive man. So, you’ll come with?”
“I don’t like being called sensitive either.”
“How ‘bout thoughtful and reflective.”
“I’ll take it and yes, I will go.
“Bring a flask.” Jameson chuckled and hung up.
Luther went to the sink and rinsed his green brandy glass with hot, hot water. We’ll see about tonight, he said to it. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Andrew Pelfini has been writing prose in multiple genres for over twenty years and published an anthology from selected works of Intergenerational Writers in San Francisco. He is a psychotherapist and graduate educator. He enjoys standing at the Barr at the Academy of ballet where he takes classes among the adult school community.