General Fiction posted April 17, 2024

This work has reached the exceptional level
A short story of life, death and addiction.

For I had known her

by EeanBlack



Eean Black

Boy, was it snowing. It was already about a foot deep. Still, in the better parts of town, families are readying themselves for a night of restless sleep and thoughts of the joyous wonders of the coming Christmas morning.

Upon me, though, the feeling of a cold, lingering distancing has fallen. Many times during the winter, I will scarcely leave the warm and inviting comfort of my own home. As luck, or fate would have it, this would not be one of those times. For, I had failed, due to the excess of my drink, to prepare myself for this most recent holiday. I had in my cupboards but two outdated cans of soup and a half package of very stale crackers. A determined man could eat for days on these morsels, an alcoholic, even longer. I am an alcoholic, so, an enormous Christmas dinner is not a pressing problem. The problem is, I have no Christmas booze! Not a drop to put in that imaginary glass of egg nog. Not a sip for old saint Nick. Nothing!

Thankfully, as with all of life's problems, there is a solid and practical solution, especially for an unrestrained drunk with a serious booze deficiency.

My solution; is to brave the weather and go to the liquor store. It will be closing promptly at nine o'clock and even these friends will abandon me on Christmas day.

I slammed the car door quickly as I got in. The cold wind followed me into the car, but dissipated quickly, leaving a stale, frosty sheen over the interior. My frosty breath fogged the windows. Three tries at the engine and the battery was completely dead, but, the urge to drink was not, so I decided to take the walk.

I had just started down my narrow, little sidewalk when a strong gust of northern wind hit me. Whoa, dude, take the alley. It's way too cold for this crap.

There was no traffic, so, I darted across the street and quickly slipped into the alley behind the local Chinese restaurant. The smell was inviting. Honey chicken was my favorite when I decided to eat it, but this was not the sustenance for which I craved. Booze was beckoning. I moved on.

As I walked, I could feel the night gently creeping upon me. I felt the cold caressing my bones. Something bad is coming. I could just feel it.

I wondered if I should return home. I had a bottle of mouthwash in my bathroom that I knew would take the edge off, but something was pulling me on. Anyway, I have the displeasure of knowing that although mouthwash tastes great, drinking it does leave you with a terrible case of indigestion. I longed for better booze.

A little way through my journey I began again to feel the need for drink. My body trembled uncontrollably. The sweat, even in this weather was profuse. Water ran from my pores and drenching my clothes. Strangely and uncharacteristically, I thought only of my health, that I might catch pneumonia, so I sought shelter in a little nook behind some dumpsters until this horrible feeling subsided. I had been here on numerous occasions. It could be very warm considering the alternative was a cold, bare, naked, and angry nature. It was so cold, so I hunkered down for what was to be just a moment. I sat in the nook, waiting for the pains to cease. They will. They always do.

As I waited, I began to drift into a wonderful state of half-consciousness. I hadn't slept in days and this journey was quite welcomed. There is so much beauty there, no fear no pain.

I was jarred from this heaven by what sounded like someone pounding on metal and screaming. These are common noises down here in the gutter, usually meant to mark your territory or warn others that you will be putting up a fight if needed, but, this was different. This seemed a beckoning.

I was not at all prepared for the events that followed.

As I made my exit from behind the dumpsters, a woman; a homeless woman I had once known, collapsed on the snow at my feet. Her name was Amanda, but, we all called her Twitch, because of her obvious and uncontrollable shaking. She made no sound other than the moans usually married to extreme amounts of physical pain, but I could discern from the blood and liquid coming from her that she was having a baby. Now!

For the very first time that I can remember, there was not another soul around the alley. Not a drunk or addict looking to score a release. I guess they had all found shelter for the night. "Why couldn't she have found shelter too?", I asked no one. No cops! Hardly a night went by that someone was being arrested down here, but not tonight. Tonight was strangely quiet and empty.

I pulled her back behind the dumpsters, where it was warmer, and made a quick assessment of the severity of her situation. It was grave. There was so much blood and she was so pale. There was literally going to be no time to seek help, except for a quick little prayer to the Almighty.

I drew solely upon instinct and prayed for benevolently guided hands, for I had absolutely no medical training. This was not a moment of great confidence for me, but, also not the moment for indecision or procrastination.

The mother, in a very bad state, but, now conscious, made an attempt to talk to me. Her eyes, so full of fear, gave way to a look of determination and understanding of the need for her to make the effort to see this through. "I was comin' to see ya", she barely breathed.

"Amanda, we need to focus, girl", I said as calmly as I could. I was not calm, but, she nodded her head in agreement and we began this oddest of bonding experiences. Both fighting against me and with me to bring this baby to the light, the mother's strength began to quickly fade. "God help these two.", I breathed.

The baby came quickly and I used what had to be the most unsanitary pocket knife to cut the cord. I took a rubber band from Amanda's stringy hair and tied it off. I remember asking myself, "Do I even need to do that"?

The delivery was a success and the baby was presented to his mother and to this dark, cruel, cold world; not in fine linens, but swaddled in the finest edition of our city's evening post.

His eyes were already open and glowed of fire and of a regal countenance telling of his readiness to face this meager beginning. He would conquer all, alone.

One fleeting glimpse at the wonder that God has given her and the mother was gone.

I took the baby down the alley and into the Chinese restaurant. They were closing, but allowed us in and called the authorities for us.

They came and took our son. Yes, our son, for I had known her...intimately.

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