The Binge

The Binge

My great aunt died three weeks ago. Beginning of a downward spiral that has hopefully ended. Maybe a binge, or a relapse. Not sure, exactly, but when Mom called to tell me her Aunt Mabel passed, I turned to Jack. Daniels. My nemesis and catharsis both. I just couldn’t face losing another relative. I’d spent this entire year taking care of Jenny, my youngest sister. When the melanoma took over, I quit my job, moved in to be round-the-clock watchman. And it worked; I focused on beating the illness, she focused on the drugs. But eventually she gave in to the elephantine pain, and her struggle evolved into gentle surrender. It was the day Jenny died, I bought my first bottle of whiskey in over fifteen years. I couldn’t reconcile why Jenny went and not me.

My drinking began in my youth, around ten years old. My parents were boozers, especially Dad. I would hang out with the Matteson boys. We started by stealing cigarettes from the local Wegman’s. When that lost its zeal, we moved to alcohol. Dad had an entire room of boxes filled with hard cider in the basement. We drank through a case or two of those in no time. I’d puke easily, so in my mind I thought I’d never become a drunk. Not like him. Guess again.

I stuck to beer after I got married. Not to say I didn’t overdo that on occasion. That was the case until my wife left. She wanted to open our marriage to other partners. I was too scared. Or too conventional.  She wanted more, more, more. I wanted a simple life. Then she had an affair. I had an epiphany: booze helped remove the fears. Helped mask the pain. Helped me to escape when she left, when she moved in with him. Escape what?

Good question.

Only answer I can fathom is death. So, would I rather avoid death by hanging onto sobriety by a hangnail? Or would I rather tempt it. Possibly. Who knows?

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About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, writer, editor, and workshop leader, his poems and fiction are widely published in print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Connotation Press, Metazen, Thrice, Literary Orphans and Housefire. He is Senior Flash editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazines and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing. He is a six times Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His collections are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps): Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press).
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9 Responses to The Binge

  1. Andrea says:

    Deep and scary. Death is a “funny” subject.

  2. david says:

    poignant and profound.. filled with haunting memory and still open to co-create the flood of emotion based on the temporal feelings of the moment.. like a bittersweet song encircling the words on the page.

  3. theprayerlady says:

    My gosh! The pain he isn’t acknowledging is profound. Bless his heart, hope he finds his way with either choice.
    Love you so. Your Mom

  4. Interesting how this strikes deep even for a non-drinker. If you decide to submit it (and I vote YES for that), you might want to re-spell overdue to overdo, and check the sequencing in the last graph. The wife leaves in the second sentence, before she “opens the marriage” etc.

  5. Don says:

    The questions at the end are profound, and his pain is deep, unfathomable, yet apparent. Not easy to create this kind of character in such a short, swift piece of fiction. Takes the kind of gift that you have: bravery, and insight, true talent to bring it out. Well done.

  6. Dez says:

    Gripping story fraught with tension and really, deep sadness. For someone who has experienced three deaths in one year (2009) it rings with truth. I have to say I hope he chooses sobriety, but I know that it just my own desire for him.

  7. Shari says:

    This story reminds me of a dear friend of mine. His sister died not long ago to the big C, and he also is challenged with alcohol abuse. This was gripping, so poignant and well crafted. I vote with Judy (and I like her suggestions also) on this one: submit it!

  8. Angela says:

    Whoa. Lots of things come up for me when reading this piece. Growing up with an alcoholic Dad. My own love for Jack. Daniels. (I have been known to say…my favorite couple is Jack and Ginger – I rarely go out without them), although the truth is I rarely drink it anymore. My ex-boyfriend’s relationship with Jack. Daniels. and how it almost ended our relationship before it even got started. When I read this and think about using alcohol for escapism – I think of escaping pain, not death. No one escapes death.

    I love your writing, the fact that you’re sharing it, and giving your average-friend-joe’s the opportunity to comment.
    X@:)

  9. G says:

    a commentary on the american dream??

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