by on May 18, 2024 :: 0 comments

photo "Barland" by Tyler Malone

He winked. My lips curled in utter disgust at the foam that gathered in the corners of his mouth. He thought his inebriation was well-disguised. Not to my eyes. His nostrils dilated with words he was at a loss to find. His tongue had grown quite numb with huge amounts of rum and every pore in his body exuded a repellent, habitual scent.

My fingers, in quest of earplugs, faltered in my purse. I strove to protect my nervous system before he gave his first utterance. There was something nauseating about a drunkard’s lingual attempts: the hesitation or stutter, the nonsensical content, and the filthy breath.

He stretched his shaky hand whose contact I evaded with a speedy, backward step. I stood my guard as his pupils rotated to assess the distance that separated us. A drunk man’s intimacy possessed a leper’s clutch. A fortunate sneeze moved me a few inches off. I covered my mouth and nose with a handkerchief and thanked God for a propitious shield.

His eye held my image captive for a few seconds, and then dumbness soon prevailed, making my presence misty like the smog of his own breath. He staggered his way back to the bar top that had been accommodating him for nearly thirty years. That was my hundredth encounter with him since I moved into that distinguished district. He was my neighbor but we were not on talking terms yet.

editors note:

You don’t ask for family, and you sure as hell don’t ask for neighbors. But you have to live with both from time to time, and any amount of time might be too much. ~ Tyler Malone

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