“Mrs. Florene? Can I borrow twenty dollars?” I asked sitting in her kitchen late yesterday evening.
We were eating some homemade cinnamon buns she had baked earlier in the day as we drank some coffee. I had plans for the evening and I needed money. I get so tired of never having a dollar to my name. I had washed George’s Buick late in the evening and decided to put off washing the Caprice until today. I almost had an anxiety attack from my exertions and had to quit. Drinking all that coffee and eating all that sugar as I sat in the kitchen didn’t help as well. I felt so jittery and nervous last night. I am a glutton for punishment, but it tasted so good. It was a hazelnut blend coffee. One of my favorites and Mrs. Florene had creamed the coffee with evaporated milk. It was delicious.
“Sure, baby,” she replied reaching into her purse which was sitting in the chair by the kitchen table. “You sure you don’t need more?”
“No,” I said. “Twenty dollars would be plenty enough.”
“That will be your pay for washing George’s cars,” she told me kindly which made me feel all the better for asking. I promised her I would be back tomorrow to wash the Caprice and vacuum it out. It was the first time in all these years that I have ever asked Florene for money.
I had walked over to Mrs. Florene’s house which is really not that far from mine. About two miles. I just about can’t drive these days always feeling panicky when I do. Walking is cathartic for me. I donned my backpack and told Florene goodnight. She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek telling me to come back and eat supper with her tomorrow night when I washed the other car. She said she would cook something special. I told her I would love that.
I made my way down to the convenience store which is about a mile down from George’s house. I stood in front of the beer cooler surveying the offerings after nodding hello to the clerk. Beer was too ungainly for my purposes last night – too bulky. I needed something smaller and compact with more punch. I reached into the cooler and pulled out four large bottles of Wild Irish Rose. I was going to sit by the tracks and drown my sorrows. I was experiencing some especially keen and extreme anxiety last night. I knew a few drinks would dissolve that terrible knot in the pit of my stomach. It would relax and calm me. “You can’t always be on the straight and narrow,” I thought. I was willing to try anything to get rid of the terrible anxiety I was experiencing. I just didn’t care anymore and I was miserable from how I felt.
It is a pretty good walk from the convenience store to the bank behind which I sit to watch trains. There were a lot of people out and about yesterday evening. One black lady stopped and asked me for a cigarette as we passed each other in front of the auto body shop. She had seen me smoking. She was tweaking as well. I could tell by the way she couldn’t stand still as we stood there. She nervously twitched and fidgeted. She also couldn’t look me in the eye as if she was hiding something from me. I gave her a cigarette and carried on with my way. Strangely, my social anxieties were nonexistent last night. I felt emboldened by the couple of large gulps of swill I had drank in the shadows of the side of the convenience store like some wino in a back alley.
The tracks were busy last night much to my relief. It was going to be an awesome night. I looked at my watch and it said 3am. I had only drank one bottle of wine. I had three left in my backpack. I settled in for a night of watching trains, drinking wine, and smoking copious amounts of menthol cigarettes. I occasionally enjoy a menthol from time to time and tonight was just one of those occasions. I bought two cheap packs at the convenience store. I had also bought a can of cashews for the munchies and to settle my stomach. Wild Irish Rose can be kind of harsh.
The night was hot and sultry – muggy after all the rain we had gotten earlier the previous day. I was sweating pretty profusely as I sat there – my body grown warm from the effects of all that alcohol. The railroad block signal is in downtown West Point just a few hundred yards from where I sat. It was red and trains began to get backed up and stopped at the signal waiting for the previous train to clear the block. This thrilled me to death. I got some close looks at some of the diesel behemoths pulling hundreds of tons of freight. The signal would turn yellow and the waiting trains would begin to creep forward spraying sand on the tracks for traction in loud hisses. The mechanical cacophony was music to my ears.
Hours seemed to pass in an instant. Time flew by. This always happens when I drink. I was pretty proud of myself that I held my drinking to only two bottles of wine. I slowly sipped completely enjoying the moment and the sweet release from that terrible anxiety I experience. It did the trick. The extreme anxiety I was experiencing had melted away after I had drank half a bottle of wine. I then noticed light on the horizon and looked at my watch. It was almost 6am and the trains had long gone. I pulled on my backpack and walked home. I have to stay up until noon and then I am going to bed for the day.