I “accidentally” smacked the back of His hand with my water bottle as I crossed the room. He was sitting on the overstuffed chair close to the TV I had purchased a few weeks back. The Roku screensaver was bounding around the screen and He had been dozing in the chair, a beer bottle spilled over on its side in His lap.
“Ow! Shit dude, what was that for?” He stammered as the beer spilled over completely onto the chair.
“You’re cleaning that up,” I said as I sat down and pulled my small lap top off the floor. I pulled the lever and the foot rest kicked out under my legs.
“Whatever. What are you doing?” He asked as He stood up and shook off the daze only an alcohol-induced sleep brings.
“Writing,” I said and noticed the mud He had tracked in the house. “Better mop that up. Wouldn’t want the filth to gain a foot hold.”
“And what are you writing? Another pointless blog post? I don’t know why you bother. No one reads your shit because it’s not interesting. Bunch of sniveling, whining cry baby crap,” He said as He walked into the kitchen.
“I don’t write because I want anybody’s approval or sympathy,” I said as I opened the file I wanted. “I write because I have to. Because I need to.”
He walked back in the room with a fresh beer and pried the cap off with the few remaining teeth He had. He sat on the ottoman across from me, set His beer down on the floor, and paused for a moment. He then reached over, grabbed the lap top and threw it against the book shelf. It fell upside down on the floor but seemed otherwise unharmed. We exchanged stares full of rage.
“Get this straight Daddy-O,” He said and pointed a long, bony finger at me. “You ain’t a writer. You ain’t shit. You’re a loser. You’re a blue-collar, HVAC loser and you’re gonna fail at the HVAC thing just like you’ve failed at everything else. And one day, you’re gonna fail at this sobriety bullshit,” He said as His lips curled back into a mirthless grin. “Mark. My. Words.”
“And you get something straight, you pathetic excuse for an alter ego. Seriously, what’s that about? I couldn’t come up with a Batman or Superman or even Slim Shady. I had to settle on you. I’ve made a decision to get Empty Calories written. It’s not just a pie-in-the-sky lofty idea anymore. Once I figured out that telling my story could help other people who wrangle with their Hims and I could convince people that the life of the dry drunk who white knuckles it through sobriety and is still a miserable person only exists if we let it, only then did it really make sense for me to get off my ass and write the damn thing. Showing loving kindness, compassion and maybe a little wisdom I’ve gleaned from these rooms for those out there still suffering, that’s what sealed the deal for me,” I said. I got up, walked to the book shelf, bent over and picked up my computer, and sat back down.
“Yeah? And what about all the other stuff you’ve convinced yourself you have to do to stay happy, The gym and piano and meetings, not to mention you’ve still got a plenty of TV to watch! C’mon buddy,” He said, giving me a friendly slap on the knee. “Go get yourself a beer, Jager’s in the freezer, and we’ll huncker down and we’ll binge watch a few episodes of Lost or The West Wing or The Wire. You choose my friend.
“You’re not listening to me, friend,” I said and started a file for a new chapter. “I’d really prefer it if, at my funeral, they say that I helped people recover from the disease of addiction through forgiveness and compassion than say he got an awful lot of TV shows knocked out. Besides, you should be happy about it considering you play a pretty big part in my story. Stands to reason you get a pretty big part in the book. Sort of Iago to my Othello.”
“Tyler Durden to your Edward Norton is more like it,” He said and propped His feet up on the ottoman and sat back in the chair. He drank deeply from the fresh beer, draining half of it. “I’m flattered that you think I have some role in this, but I exist solely to make you feel bad about yourself and convince you there is no hope. That you’re nothing but a failure.”
I smiled ear to ear. “I know that’s what you think. That’s what I pay you for. But you’re wrong and I’m setting out to prove it, ” I said. I started to write, then paused one last time.
“I’ll let you know when your pathetic presence is required.”