The Bottom Of The Glass
Billy was a looser. What was worse, Billy knew he was a looser, and try as he might, he simply couldn`t change things. Tonight he sat at the bar in 'The Tavern' with an old friend of his, Mr Daniels. He had known Mr Daniels for many years now, and Billy had often called on him for help. Sometimes Daniels had helped, other times he had simply made the problem worse, but Daniels was always there, and that was a great comfort to Billy.
Billy studied Daniels as he sat at the bar. Rather transparent, but with a very warming personality was Jack, and Billy took a large swallow, holding the glass up to the barman to indicate that he wanted a refill.
Last one though, he thought, because he really shouldn`t have been having any. Next week he would have to stand up at the meeting and tell them all how he had strayed. But surely, he thought, if he could come out, enjoy two or three bourbons and then simply knock it on the head and go home, it would prove he was no longer an alcoholic. He had beaten it! He had not had a drink for six months. Old Jack had been denied Billy's company. But now, well Hell, he could have one or two and go home to the wife he had so nearly lost because of Mr Jack Daniels.
Billy had been married ten years. Ten years to the day to be precise, for tonight was their wedding anniversary. And yet he had so nearly lost it all six months previous. In truth it had been going wrong for a lot longer than that.
Billy had been drinking heavily for close to two years now. It had all started with the pressures of work - increased demands on him, more customer satisfaction called for, cutbacks which the company could not really cope with, cutbacks which just meant everyone had to work even harder to stay on top. Well Jack had been there.
It started with lunch times at first. Over with some of the others from the office for a quick pint or two. But Billy had never really been a beer drinker, so he stuck to the shorts. Within weeks he found himself ordering another shot just as they were all leaving, and he swiftly downed it as he made his way back to the office. Then one or two, turned into three or four, then five or six. The other men from the office gradually began to avoid Billy whilst at the pub, and many stopped coming altogether, choosing another location to have their drinks. But by now Jack and Billy were the best of friends.
The next step was Jack coming to work. A bottle in the top draw lasted less than a week, and Billy's work began to suffer. So did his home life.
Helen was a strong willed lady, and she could put up with a lot. The first year was hard, but it was not beyond her. Billy would be drunk when he walked in, but she would try to be gentle with him. Soon though, he was having a drink before even kissing her hello.
But the train was out of control by this time. Billy soon stopped coming home after work - if he came home at all. Helen knew that he wasn`t seeing another woman, but this hardly made things any easier. She worried about her husband. She had visions of him becoming one of those unloved drunks that shuffle aimlessly up and down the high street, their only thought being how to raise enough cash for the next can of ridiculously strong lager.
When Billy did come home she tried to talk to him. Didn`t he see what was happening? Not only was he loosing his job, his pride, his self respect, he was loosing her too. Strong as she was, Helen was not prepared to stand around for the rest of her life, simply waiting for the inevitable knock at the door, a policeman and the local vicar standing on the doorstep looking sheepish. He had to get a grip of himself. Didn`t he know how much she loved him? He could do this - They could do this!
Well she had almost succeeded. Helen was right on the brink, as close as one could possibly get to succeeding - Billy had stopped drinking for a full week - when he was sacked. It was life at its most ironic, the cruellest twist of fate, that when his boss had put up with everything so far, he should sack Billy as soon as he tried to make a go of things.
Well Billy wasn`t sad for long. He knew a good friend who could help him forget all of this, and Jack Daniels was right there, in 'The Tavern', waiting. Billy and Jack spent a long evening together that day. Billy was the last to leave, though he didn`t go home. The park was far closer, and, after all, it wasn`t too cold this time of year. Coffee in the cafe the next morning, a burger he only half ate, and wow! The pub was open! Hello Jack, good to see you old buddy.
The binge lasted a week. Finally the barman had to politely tell Billy to go home, get a bath and a shave, and then yes, he would happily take Billy's money again - But not until he looked and smelt a little more respectable.
Helen was mad. She was as mad as she could ever remember, yet she still loved him, and more than anything she was glad to see that he was alive.
Billy's life changed that day. He was washed, shaved, and possibly even a little sober, when he crossed to the drinks cabinet. To his horror he found it was empty. Not the bottle, or the glass, but the whole cabinet.
"It`s all gone Billy. We`re going to get round this now. I`m going to help you, but you`ve got to help yourself too."
That`s when it changed. His life, his world - everything Billy had known and believed in, he threw away when he hit her. He saw the bruise he had left when she turned back to face him. There were tears in here eyes, but it wasn`t because of the pain. Helen was crying because she knew there was nothing more she could do. As Billy sat on the sofa, dumb struck at what he had done, Helen quietly packed a bag and left.
He sat there for hours, alone, dejected and very sober now. The need for a drink was almost overpowering, but Billy felt as if he should do some form of penance, and by denying himself a drink he was deliberately torturing himself. Without knowing what he was really doing, he picked up the Yellow Pages, and looked up the AA.
It was three months, three long dry months, before he could persuade Helen to see him again. When the did meet, she could see that he was a changed man. A new job, clean shaven, smartly dressed and sober, he was back to the Billy she could remember.
But tonight, well tonight was special. Billy's life was back in order. He was over the alcoholism, and they had a special evening planned, just the two of them.
"Another one is it Billy?" The Barman called as he was about to leave.
"No," he could hear himself say, as he looked into the bottom of the empty glass. Was it his imagination, or could he see an image of Helen in the drips of golden liquid that remained in the bottom.
But then he sat down again. "OK." He said. Because surely Helen wouldn`t mind if it was just this one!