I’d like to teach Y’all something about alcoholics. We are not stupid Drunks. We have it down to science.
We are professionals
Your average weekend drunk is stupid. Your functioning juicer is not…Stupid. We have to juggle with one hand. And always work with logistics. THAT takes BRAINS. And forethought. And knowledge of anatomy. And knowledge of physics. And knowledge of one’s own limitations. And planning. And perfecting the fine art of “maintenance drinking.” Maintaining an even strain. And of course money management.
And sometimes even Luck.
This is all CEO shit right here.
I have used management skills to ‘manage’ very large ‘Man-Camps’ in three War-Zones. I have used management skills to manage small Businesses. I have used management skills to manage Lots of things. But the most challenging test of my management skill Is managing my disease. And, that, that, is a no-shitter.
Hope I can perfect and hone my skill before I cash my chips.
With nothing else to do and somewhat pissed at Shonnie for putting us both in a bad situation, I walked over to The Las Vegas Club just across the street from the Union Plaza. My intent was to pass some time playing a relaxing game of roulette. I have always enjoyed roulette. The pace is slow and generally that game draws a more serene clientele. A casual game of roulette would afford me the opportunity to calm my anger and pleasantly pass some time.
The minimum bet was one dollar, so I bought a hundred bucks worth of two-bit chips and began scattering them about the table. Never really scoring big at roulette, I did not expect anything but a hundred dollars worth of entertainment and some free bottom shelf booze. I had a few wins, but more losses and as my initial investment faded away along with about an hour and a half, I cashed out the remainder of my stake (about twenty-five bucks), drained my glass, stubbed out my Marlboro and headed back to the Plaza.
Upon entering our room, I discovered Shonnie face down on the bed, a cig still burning in the ashtray.
I sad upon the bed next to her.
“You awake?” I whispered.
“Owwwie… Is that you Honey?”
“Yes, Dear. It’s me. How’d you come out?”
“Won three hundred. Proud of me?”
“Nope,” I said. “You nearly got me in trouble.”
“Always about you,” she said, turning on her side to face me with piercing blue eyes.
“We did have a plan, you know. What happened?”
“I couldn’t get shed of that moron.”
She sat up abruptly. “I tried, Goddamn it!”
“How hard is it to walk away from a blackjack table?”
“I was having fun too.”
“You’re drunk,” I said.
“Yeah. Be a dear and light me a smoke.”
I lit two Marlboros and handed her one. She took a long drag and asked for a cold beer. I fished two Bud longnecks out of the cooler we had brought along and handed her one. She drained about half of hers, belched, and said, “Cotton mouth.”
“Charmed, I’m sure.”
“Fuck you. I have a major headache.”
I kissed her lightly on the forehead and said, “We need to head outta here tomorrow by noon. I have to be back on my boat…”
“Okay! Okay! I got it. What time is it anyway?”
“It’s later than you think.”
She drained the rest of her beer, threw her half-smoked cigarette in the ashtray, rolled over and went immediately to sleep. Just perfect, I thought. I took some minutes to finish my beer and my cigarette, then got undressed and curled up next to her and was soon asleep myself.
Next day we managed to check out of our room and hit the road by about twelve-thirty. I stopped for gas and a six-pack at Whiskey Pete’s and we reverse-road-tripped on into San Diego, arriving about six in the evening. I dropped Shonnie at her mom’s and headed back to the Frederick. I hit my rack and slept like the dead. I had duty the next day, so I could not leave the ship. On Tuesday at sixteen hundred after liberty call I got in my civvies and hit the beach. Found a pay phone on the pier and called her up.
“Hiya Baby. How y’all doin’?”
“Why didn’t you call me yesterday?” She sounded pissed.
“You know damn well. I had duty yesterday,” I shot back.
“Oh… Yeah. Sorry. I forgot.”
“Wanna hook up?” I asked.
“Yeah. Meet me at Seaport Village. In the parking lot. In an hour.”
“Make it an hour and a half.”
I pulled into the parking lot at Seaport Village around six p.m. No sign of Shonnie. I killed the Toronado but left the stereo playing (Tom Waits: “Warm Beer and Cold Women…”) Pulling from a pint of Jim Beam, I lit a cigarette and watched some seagulls diving on scraps in the bay. I saw a haze-gray-and-underway-piece-of-shit heading out to sea, black-shoe-sailors manning the rails. I saw couples walking hand-in-hand on the boardwalk. I was allowing myself to have some second thoughts about my relationship with Shonnie: Was it going anywhere? Was it worth the risk? Was she fun? Was she great in the sack?
Did I love her?
My mindless contemplations were brusquely interrupted as she pulled up alongside me screeching tires and slinging gravel. Grand entrance! She exited her ‘La Bomba’ and walked toward my vehicle. She looked California stunning: wearing tight faded blue jeans, a halter top, cowgirl boots, and carrying a fifth of whiskey and obviously an attitude. She ‘runway’ sauntered over to the driver’s side of my car, opened the door, plopped herself down and inquired, “How’s my favorite Sailor-Boy?”
Aiming for ‘nonchalant’ I said, “Fair to mid’lin. You?”
“Finer-n-frog hair,” she said.
“Don’t be mockin’ a good ol’ Texas Boy,” I said back. (Yes. I did love her after all)
“I have a surprise for you Lover.”
“Do tell,” I said.
“I am ‘house-sitting’ my aunt’s condo in La Jolla all this week. It’s all ours.”
“I’m partial to parking lots and sleazy motel rooms,” I protested.