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Special thanks to Chris Musgrave for this week’s prompt! It was a challenging one!
Prompt: A thirty-year-old man is having a conversation with his imaginary friend
Thanks for the great submissions everyone!
Chris Musgrave – Writing in Training
The Excessive Gardener
“The Imaginary Friend”
Thain in Vain
The drink was calling. Bellowing. Yelling. Yelping. Cheering. Taunting.
Will sat staring at himself in dusty mirror above the bar. How did he get here, he wondered. The bar was empty save for a couple of old drunks at the other end of the bar. It had been three weeks since his last drink. Twenty-two days, three hours, and 43 minutes to be exact. He wished he could have felt pride for those days, but he mostly felt entombed in his own desire, like a man buried to his neck in sand. That very feeling made him reach blindly for a bottle that didn’t exist.
“What are you doing here?” Said a familiar voice with that Aryan twang. One he had not heard for twenty-two days.
“Jerry. What do you want?”
“Hadn’t heard from you in a while. Wondering how you are doing.”
“I’m fine,” snapped Will. He despised the smug tone Jerry adopted when he was prodding.
“Good to hear. So, what’s your poison?” Will heard the click of Jerry’s Zippo lighter and caught a whiff of tobacco.
“Not sure I have one.” The smell of Jerry’s home-rolled smoke with a hint of pot shrouded around him, making his stomach turn.
“Suit yourself, but I’ll have a double whisky and a beer. If you don’t mind.”
Will motioned to the bartender. The bar was dark, shards of light breaking through the ill-fitted wooden front door, illuminated dust particles dancing in the light. For some inexplicable reason the jukebox was playing. Will listened closely. Tom Waits? It couldn’t be. Not in this dive. The bartender set down the drinks. Will pushed them towards Jerry. “For you,” he said was a bitterness he meant to hide.
Jerry arranged his drinks in front of him, whiskey in front of the beer. Will watched Jerry in the mirror above the bar. His image bounced off the fragmented glass shards, creating a kaleidoscope of Jerrys. One Jerry laughing like a crazy person; another Jerry lighting a cigarette; another Jerry downing the whiskey; another Jerry singing; another Jerry staring menacingly back at Will.
Jerry tapped the bar for another whiskey and took a long swig of his beer. Will focused on Tom Waits’ voice floating from the jukebox.
Now the sun’s coming up. I’m riding with lady luck.
The bartender dumped Jerry’s order in front of Will. He looked at the amber liquid in the shot glass. The glass looked dirty, scratched. He caught a whiff of the whiskey: full and grassy and familiar.
Just wishing I’d stay a little long. Oh, lord, let me tell you that the feeling’s getting stronger.
Will saw himself in the dingy mirror. He watched himself light another smoke and take back the whiskey. He slammed the shot glass onto the bar and chugged back the beer. He motioned to the bartender.
Will listened as Jerry sat silently beside him, saying nothing. Saying everything.
And I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy. God knows I was feeling alive.