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Tip; the bartender on your way out the door.
Tip; your hat as you pass by him on the street.
Tip; the cab driver as he drops you in front of the bridge.
Tip; the bottle back and feel it's amber solace slide down your throat.
Tip; be sure to take off your jacket and boots.
Tip; as you stumble up to the platform, grab the railing.
Tip; over the edge as you fall into the dark.

Some days it feels like there is no other answer, just the bottle and the dark.

His last text message to her read: "Let love reign always, no matter the cost." When they found his body in a crack house two weeks later she wasn't surprised. Another of the drunks he'd worked with spared her from having to go down and identify the body. The two of them were really the only friends he'd had.

"You couldn't have saved him ya know," her partner offers the night of the funeral.

"I know," she replies; the tears starting again, stinging against the mascara that trails across her cheek bones, "but I could have tried harder."

Things are different after, she tries harder to keep her distance. He's not the only one, there are more, they come down daily for their liquid courage injections, don't want too much blood in their alcohol streams. One of them had a stroke a few weeks ago, came in to confess over a series of tequilas and vodka & waters.

She suggests a wager, to see who could be sober the longest. Bet a thousand dollars she didn't have on it. He's a competitive drunk and he accepts, they'll start next week, no the week after... It goes on.

In the DJ's jeep on a Thursday night ride home, she confesses to the wager and the DJ replies, "If he quits drinking we all lose. That guy spends a hundred grand a year in the bar. Your little bet could ruin us all!"

The lump rises in her throat as she counters, "We all lose if he drinks himself to death too. He's already had a stroke; he's got a fatty liver and an enlarged heart, the doc's only giving him six months if he doesn't smarten up."

"Yeah but, I mean, he can't quit drinking..."

She bites her tongue thinking loud enough that she's sure her friend can hear her. I can't have another one die on me. I'm at four since September. I can't do this anymore. Her tears are whipped away by the wind in the jeep and he kindly pretends not to notice.

The radio kicks in, breaking the silence as they bound over the potholes in the west end of town, some crass pop tune ringing in her ear drums as they turn the corner onto her street.

She jumps out of the jeep. "Thanks for the ride love, see ya tomorrow." She slams the rickety door and blows him a kiss, stumbles into her darkened house, reaches into the cabinet, mixes the vodka with some water.

Some days it feels like there is no other answer, just the bottle and the dark.


This was my week ten entry for LJ idol: topic "“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time” please read/comment/vote when available, there are some really talented writers out there.

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