Are You an Alcoholic?

“Yes, well, here at Ventura Capital, we pride ourselves on our work environment, and I think you’ll fit in perfectly, John.  Thank you for coming in today.”

“Of course, my pleasure, Alex.  I look forward to hearing from you.”

The two men get up from their chairs.  They shake hands solidly, just as their dads had taught them when they were four.

John opens the door and starts to walk out –

“ – oh John I have to ask you one last question.”

“Yes I can accept the job right now,” John replies wittily, “but seriously, ask me anything, Alex.”

“It’s just this question that HR wants me to ask all interviewees.  I forgot to ask you because we were having such a pleasant conversation, in spite of the fact that you’re a Yankees fan!” a hearty laugh comes with the joke.  “An employee a few years back had a bit of a drinking problem and turned the 2013 Christmas party into the most unforgettable party this office park has ever seen.”

“Do you mind if I ask what happened?”

“Perhaps when you start here, John, I’ll tell you more.”

“I’ll hold you to that, Alex”

“Anyway, I now have to ask all interviewees whether you have, or have ever had, a problem with alcohol or any other form of controlled substance?”

“Never.  I enjoy a drink every now and then, but that’s it.”

“Excellent.  That’s what I thought.  I’ll mark down just a social drinker.”

“Well . . .”

“Well?”

“Well . . . I wouldn’t say I’m a social drinker.”

“What type of drinker would you say you are then?”

“More of an individual drinker, an alone drinker, I like to . . . just, you know, drink alone.”

“Of course, we all enjoy a beer every now and then just by ourselves.  Completely understandable.”

“Well . . .”

“Well what?”

“It’s just that I only drink alone.  I never drink with other people.”

“Right but just like a beer or a glass of wine right?”

“Oh yes to start, definitely.”

“And then you have more . . . while you’re alone?”

“Sure.”

“How much do you drink?”

“You know just as much as anyone else.”

“But alone?”

“Yes, alone only.”

“Okay then.”

“There is just something more rewarding about drinking alone.”

“ . . . ”

“Alone, I drink sip by sip with my attention focused solely on me, my surroundings, and the effects of the alcohol.  With each sip, the alcohol’s effect changes and compounds on the previous sip.  Only when I am alone can I truly experience each increment of intoxication.  When I drink with others, conversation carries the night and, next thing I know, I’m drunk.  That’s not necessarily bad.  But alone, I have a deeper understanding of how alcohol impacts my body and how joyful and different each little sip can be.”

“So you really like drinking then?”

“Oh I wouldn’t say like.”

“ . . .”

 

“I’d say love.”

“Okay well.  Thank you for this information, and . . . we . . . we’ll be in touch with you.”

 

Big Rand

Randall Weber-Levine holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a B.A. in philosophy and economics from Colgate University. He is an aspiring writer who has been published in and served as the editor of, Columbia Law School’s literary magazine, the Morningside Monocle.

Christmas Island

We pack into a mover, driven by men we never see. (It is always men.) We bump along the clouds, no windows, trusting in the dark. The mover groans and shakes before landing. It’s too soon. The door lifts, and we hear waves but see only greenhouses, sun blacks, scrub brush. A voice bawls: “Walk!” So we walk, wandering the maze of humming buildings. On a beach, they scan us as we board an aluminum and blue-glass skiff, population 32. This isn’t in the plan but there’s nothing to argue, nowhere to go.

My brother whispers: “Remember to say you’re my wife.”

As if it unlocks an unseen door. As if he could get a woman like me. But I nod.

On the deck, we choke on hydrenated diesel. Below the glass, it’s like sick in a kettle. A sense memory: my mother, drifting to an alcoholic sleep, repeating, I’m sorry, baby. A man watches me and I move seats, offering to hold a child on my lap, his pee filling my shoes. The pilot is locked behind a door, immune to our pounding. Four days, two deaths, and the baby starts kicking. A gunship appears, guiding us into a bay. Someone translates: “We can go back or go to detention.”

“No,” I tell my brother. “This time we stay.”

 

 

Joel Wayne

Joel Wayne is a writer and producer from Boise, Idaho. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Chattahoochee Review, The Moth, and Salon, among other places. He has won the Silver Creek Writer’s Residency, the Lamar York Prize, and is a Pushcart nominee. Wayne produces the NPR-affiliate programs “Reader’s Corner” and “You Know The Place” for Boise State Public Radio, and serves as a judge for the annual Scholastic Writing Awards.

Kathy McConnell

Frozen Fog and the Beer Can

Road North

 

Kathy McConnell

Kathy McConnell is a writer and photographer who lives in the woods of Washington state. Much of her photography for almost thirty years was documenting the play of children, but since moving to a cabin some miles from town, her primary subjects are found along back roads and in nature. Following the death of her husband in 2011, she traveled for seven months, honing the skills of a good eye and writing a blog. Her work on a manuscript, whose topic was mapping grief, earned her a writer’s residency in the San Juan Islands. The manuscript was shortlisted in the 2017 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Contest. Kathy lives with her border terrier Lizzie, writes a guest newspaper column inspired by her photos, and in winters like this one, shovels snow.