Those very few who have read some of it will know, today's story is taken from the world of my WIP, The Fall, and Further Fall, of Miriam Bronski. But it's brand-spanking new, written just for today. That novel is 188,000 words long now... still, I might include this, if I can make it fit. Let me know how it holds up as a piece alone.
By Mari Kozlowski
By Mari Kozlowski
When I get to her apartment she’s already wasted: drunk. And I mean literally stinking drunk since she hasn’t showered for god knows how long, her clothes are covered in dried puke and maybe snot, and there’s blood congealing on the right side of her face.
The door is open, and her place is full of trash— as I go through there are containers of some smelly old Chinese food with ants crawling out of it tipped sideways on the couch and dirty clothes on the floor, and the chair and the kitchen table.
Which is where I find Reese, sprawled on top of a Star Wars t-shirt and trying to drink from a mini-bottle of vodka, only it’s not working well since she’s holding it upside down.
I don’t know which mess to clean up first.
Probably Reese, since every second she’s still conscious, to whatever extent, she’s making more mess.
“Honey, it’s time to get cleaned up and go to bed.” I put my arm under her head and lift, gently. She’s skinny as hell, but when she’s drunk you’d swear she weighs 400 lbs.
“Nawww…” she drools at me,” We were’rer going out Miryum. S’dancing…”
She pushes my head, getting blood on my cheek.
“Reesy cup, it’s time to get some rest. We’ll go out tomorrow, promise.”
She lifts one leg, like she’s going to stand, then passes out, falling in a heap onto the linoleum. Slipping right out of my arms and whacking her head on the floor. Dammit.
I can't get her up, and when I try to drag her by her feet, she moans, loud. So I find her phone after a ten minute search and call Angelo. He’ll be able to help, if he’s home. Only he doesn’t-- he won’t.
“Miriam, I can’t see her like that anymore. I’ve been through this for a year with her, trying to get her into rehab or something. I can’t take it, I’m sorry.”
“Ange, for me then okay? Not for her. Just help me out here.” I can’t believe he’s flaking out on us… what the hell? He’s in love with her, last I heard.
“Maybe you should leave her there to wake up in her own puke on the floor. Maybe one of these days she’ll get sick of it.”
“She looks like she’s been beaten, Ange--- that’s how not sick of it she is. I don’t think she’s eaten in three days or more, and her head is bleeding. Please…”
“I can’t, Miriam! I can’t do it. Don’t make me!”
He’s quiet for a moment, and I let it stretch, hoping he’s about to break. But he’s closer to breaking down, when he finally talks again.
“I’ll call someone, okay? I’ll send you some help.” His voice is strained. Maybe she needs an ambulance, really. I don’t know.
“Okay. But tell them to hurry… I don’t what’s happened to her, Ange.” I hang up and find a blanket to cover her with, then start cleaning up a little. I don’t want paramedics or whoever seeing how fucked up she’s gotten.
Which is stupid, I know, and enabling, and all those things you’re not supposed to be with an alcoholic. But she’s still my best friend, even if we live a 6+ hours drive apart and hardly ever see each other anymore. Even if she doesn’t remember it most of the time. Even though one out of three times I see her, I have to see her like this. But it was never this bad before—that’s the part that scares me.
So I toss all her clothes in the hamper and throw out the trash, wipe away the spilled vodka and search for any half-empty pill bottles that might have contributed to tonight’s stupor. There aren’t any I can find, not under furniture or in her bed or the kitchen— nothing. That’s some relief. Then Alex walks in.
“On the kitchen floor; I couldn’t lift her.”
He stalks into the kitchen and looks at her, shaking his head.
“Jesus Christ, Reese.”
He sticks an arm underneath and gathers her up, and we take her to her bedroom, get rid of the sickening clothes she’s wearing, wash her face and tuck her in, sideways, so she won’t choke if she vomits. Alex finds a bowl to put next to her for the purpose, but we both know she won’t be conscious enough to use it.
He leaves the door open halfway and leads me into the kitchen again, under those harsh tube lights. He doesn’t sit down.
“What happened? Did she fall in the bar?” He looks pissed, but not at me. I think.
“We never got there. I called last Wednesday to let her know I was coming in from Cincy, and she wanted to go to City Lights tonight. The last time I talked to her was three days ago, and it was still on then. I left her messages…”
“But she never answers back. I know.” He looks around the kitchen, searching it for something.
“Doesn’t look like she was on a binge,” he says, and I cringe, feeling like a jerk.
“I cleaned it up. It was disgusting; I thought Ange was sending an ambulance.”
“Do you think she took anything besides booze, Miriam?”
I shake my head. “I couldn’t find anything. I just think she’s been living on vodka for a while. Before that her last meal was greasy egg foo young.”
He smiles, and instantly I feel a little less pressure. I could have died when he walked in, but here he’s handling it all, taking care of things. Like always.
“She loves that crap,” he says, “and it really is: the only Chinese place that’ll deliver here is run by a Jewish guy from NYC, and he just can’t keep a decent cook. She loves it, though.”
My ex-fiancé sits down in his sister’s kitchen and looks up at me, and it’s hard not to melt. We haven’t seen each other in two years.
“What should we do? Get her stomach pumped?” I sit down, too. It’s easier to be across from him than next to him, still.
“From the look of the shirt she had on, I’d say no.” He stops smiling, and it’s a relief. His smiles always got me.
“I’ll stay with her, Miriam. You can go… I’ll let you know that she wakes up tomorrow.”
“Why don’t make some coffee?” I say. I get up and start looking for what I need, and he sits there, watching me.
“That’d be nice.” he says.
From the bedroom, we both hear Reese begin to snore, loud. And we laugh together, and make coffee.