The man wandered the streets aimlessly, unaware of where we went or if it would get him in any trouble. He hadn’t been drunk for months, and it was a bad thing. He was too happy, too content, and everyone knew it. He was becoming a failure.
Another block passed under his hurriedly-shod feet, and he remembered back to a few months ago, back to when he had hit bottom. Things were better then. More simple. The drunken conversations spoken into pools of vomit dutifully deposited in the parking lots of steaming pubs, they brought a dry, sickening consistency to the hot, much too bright mornings when he drug himself into the chaotic, unsympathetic fluorescents of his workplace.
Yet another block, yellow streetlights burning acid holes in the pitiful streets of his adopted new hometown. Another cigarette burning acid holes in the pitiful alveoli in his chest, raising bumps on his gums and removing all ability for taste from his tongue. He had managed to find himself under the bridge where the homeless setup camp. He stared over at the small communities huddled around trash fires, wondering what conversation might ensue if he was human enough to go initiate them, what wise stories would appear out of the retreating eyes of a stranger.
A drink was required, and yet none was to be found, and so yet another cigarette passed his lips, the sound of the Zippo in his hands a small comfort.
He felt himself getting older as the concrete squares drew underneath, slowly at first, then faster and faster until they swept behind like children running into their bedrooms, frightened by imaginary ghosts in dark hallway corners. The lines on his face deepened with each step, his skin dried and scaled with each drag from the cigarette. Finally, he walked by the glass façade of some unidentified structure and dared to turn his head. Surprise, shock-horror, should have been returned for the reflection’s aged stare, but instead, there was only a dim, boring recognition of what was known all along.
A drink was in order. Yet no order was to be placed. No solace in the dirty, dark, smoky corners where ex-pat Englishmen yell obscenities to no one in particular. No familiar conversations with the barkeep who has your drink poured before you reach the rail.
Just a street and a smoke and the cracks that disappear underfoot and reappear strewn across the gills, staring blindly past the next broken light, shining its darkness down for no one to see, not lighting a street to anywhere, anywhere but here.