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How long you worked here?

27 years.

Gettin close.

Be a lot closer without all those ex-wives.

I laughed, and left the sheriff's department, on to a day's off worth of errands. A chipped windshield. Signing documents to sell our house. A crossword puzzle. Checked work email. I am not supposed to drink except alternating days, but I cheated. It was hot, I've done reasonably well. My back is sore.

Last week, I upped my hike to 10 miles. After a mile and a half, I tried running a half mile. Short steps, my feet low to the ground. Walked another couple, did it again. Turned around at mile 5, came back, ran another half mile. Started to feel wrong, so I went through the emotions of feeling like I ruined my progress in my impatience.

Saturday, having completely forgotten how cold it was in the valley, I pushed it to 12 miles. Ran 2. It feels insanely right. Three miles from the car, a kid comes up to me and offers me a beer. I say no, my doctor won't allow it. He says he just turned 21 and has no one to celebrate with him, asks if he can grab his shoes and bag and walk with me.

Up to that point, I had been using the hike to burn off some work related anger, and wasn't in the mood for company, but the kid just seems so pathetic. Yeah, sure. He talks non-stop. Tells me how he can smell the color of the shirts of the cyclists coming behind us. He says there are three of them. The lead rider rings his little warning bell. There are four of them. "I saw you," he says. His name is Nicholas.

You know my father, right. 

No, don't think so.

He killed my mom. 

Later that night, curiosity got the best of me, and there's this kid, posting shirtless photos, and a comment from his dad telling him to put some damn clothes on. The dad's name is traced to a story of an apparent double homicide, the kid's mom and some other guy in a run-down trailer in Alaska.

I dreamt about this kid, he was suddenly a student, and I caught him in the bookstore, stealing candy. I remember being disappointed in him, and too harsh. In the dream, he had the grace to look ashamed, and later I felt guilty for my words.

Before finishing our walk, I was afraid that he was going to ask me to drive him home. He asked me if I smoked. He asked me if I went to church. He asked me what my issues were, and when I said I was just a normal guy, he said that's how he knew I was full of it.

Right after my surgery, the nurse sent me home with a prescription for more painkillers than I've ever seen. I've been told that people desperate will pay $80/pill. I'm not sure if I believe that, but if so, I had $7200 worth of medicine, with a refill for god knows how much more. Over the course of the first three weeks or so, I wound up going through them all. The week after the last pill was one of the worst of my life. I threw the refill away.

For my son's birthday, we opened up an 18 year old bottle of brandy to celebrate in the style I learned living in Romania. When I lived there, one day my host parents invited me in for a drink, saying that it was to honor their daughter, who was living in America. They said each year on her birthday, they would take a sip. My bottle was given to us by one of my fellow American students, a vet who also married, but years later spiraled out of control, eventually going to prison for rape, and later shooting himself not long after Christmas when his wife finally had enough to leave. So maybe every year when we celebrate with this tradition, I'll have to think about that alongside the happiness of a birthday. Try not to think of a pink elephant, etc.

I should have waxed the cork. 18 years is a long time, and it disintegrated as I tried to remove it. We're in the process of selling our house, so the glasses I had picked are in a box somewhere. We argue and make do ( It is a taste from a long ago life, just like I had hoped. It's our gift, as much as our son's. The following week is Father's Day, and I'm given alcohol. It is all gone, not replaced. I alternate days, now, to the best of my ability. Yesterday was dry, today looks like rain.


At least every other day is a little gift disguised as firewater or maybe something a bit hoppier. Silver linings. Lovely to see that you still write words good.
At least every other day is a little gift disguised as firewater or maybe something a bit hoppier. Silver linings. Lovely to see that you still write words good.
Brandon said…
rarely write, but between work, dissertation, house sale, back surgery, it's a miracle the firewater lasted as long as it did.

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