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Cleveland

One down, three to go.

Not the comment you might have expected from parents who were delivering their first child to college, but it is what we said to each other as my wife and I dropped our oldest off in Ohio.

This leads to a few comments about Cleveland. Not that I am going to say anything bad. I have to say that most of the people we met were polite and nice. Some even went all the way up to helpful, which I have to say, is a bit more than the average stranger that I have met around my home town. The wife and I have even commented on how rude some of the areas near our home have become. Little old ladies who will glare at you for being in their way as they drive down the middle of the lane, for example, have become the norm in one particularly red and white town near us. The thing I am wondering though is why the people of Cleveland were so nice. I have a hunch.

They were drunk.

I have never seen so many bars, pubs, lounges and taverns as what I saw driving around Cleveland. I know I am exaggerating, but I honestly felt like there was at least one place to drink every block. For those places that didn’t have an establishment that served alcohol, there was the convenience of buying from the local grocery store, quick mart, gas station or super shopping center.

Maybe Indiana is just more or a stick in the mud. We do still have dry days of the week, but I never thought I would be surprised by booze. I drink; I don’t have a problem with you drinking. Hell, if you are a happy drunk, I’m even ok being with you when you are drinking if I am sober. But how many bars do you need in a square mile?

Truth is that I might not have noticed if it weren’t for breakfast. The wife and I had dropped of our son the night before and were looking for a place to have breakfast the next morning. We found a small restaurant from a chain that we were not familiar with and decided to give it a go. The food was good and she loved the omelet. That is all fine and dandy.

The thing that got me though, was watching the waitresses make mimosas’. I have never been handed a breakfast menu that recommended a bloody mary or a mimosa for breakfast. I have never been one to drink in the morning. Watching the groups around us put these three quarters champagne drinks away as the means of starting their day got a bit of a chuckle out of me.

Until I started reading the names on the signs for businesses on the way to my son’s new apartment. Good lord, how many places to drink does one city need?

Then again, they were nicer and more polite than some of the places around here, so who am I to judge.

L. E. White

Burn

I like to drink. Some people think I am a funny drunk and others say I am a mean drunk, but the truth is that they are both wrong. I am never drunk. I don’t get to feeling light headed or sleepy or relaxed. I don’t notice a difference.

I drink because I like the taste, the burn of the alcohol going down my throat. It makes me feel good but I don’t know why.

So I tried something new. I lit the alcohol first and then drank the shot. I wondered if it would make it burn more or not. I didn’t notice a difference.

That was when I realized that it was the fire that made me happy. I enjoyed the idea of the burn that I didn’t get. That was when I started ordering flambé.

The poor waitress burnt her arm. She screamed and cried and I took a deep breath and marveled at the smell. The burn made me; well, let’s just say I really enjoyed it.

So today is time for another first. I have a different waitress, a girl, barely old enough to serve me a drink. She thought she could drink me under the table, so I challenged her to shots after work and she took me up on it. We drank until she hit the floor and I carried her out to my car.

Now we are under a bridge in the middle of nowhere. She is still passed out, which is better for her. She is also soaked in whiskey from the two empty bottles that are now lying beside of her. I have my lighter in one hand and the other is busy. I struck the wheel, causing those fantastic little sparks to set the fuel ablaze and tossed the lighter into the air. It flickered as it arced away, a tiny comet in the pre-dawn light that filled me with a joyful tension.

I took deep, shuddering breaths. Trying to take in as much of the burn as I could, each breath sending a flare of burning ecstasy through me. This is so much better than just drinking the burn and I felt so happy, so complete.

It felt like hours before the fire went out and I collapsed in a spent heap while still leaning towards the slowly raising smoke of my first real happiness. I felt complete in a way that I had never felt before. I imagined that this was what great men felt like when they had accomplished what I had.

I had discovered my purpose in life. I now knew my place in the world.

Some men just want to watch the world burn. Most of them lack the courage of their convictions. I would not watch the world burn from an idle place. I would be a great man, sure in my destiny and complete in my focus.

Some men just want to watch the world burn, but I would set it on fire myself.

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Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror
  1. August 25, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Pretty twisted tale. Nice.

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