:: Article

Two Drunks

By Thom Young.

“Nothing is worse than sex.” Jim Wilson was waxing poetic again. Everybody ignored the elderly drunk at the end of the bar. I had been on a two week bender. My latest story had appeared in a small rag called Lit Riot. The editor had the nerve to make me change a bunch of shit. I usually didn’t compromise on shit like that. I was becoming weaker and more desperate. I wasn’t a writer anymore but a corporate slave to the man. I was compromising my art for an egghead hack. Besides nobody likes stories about writers. Jim Wilson continued his rant on all things wholesome. “And after you come inside her, boy you’re in the shit. You got little snot mouths to feed.” I took it the old codger was Catholic. He lived in a different era. One that was untouched by the post modernistic bullshit. One where men had no choice. It was fight in the war or become a bum. Jim had chosen the latter. I moved a few bar stools closer to him. “Hey Tom, how’s it going?” “Fine.” “I read your story in the paper last week. It was awful.” For all of Mr. Wilson’s senile ways, he had good taste in literature. “You call yourself a writer. You couldn’t type your way out of a paper bag.” “Thanks Jim.” I ordered myself another drink and one for the old timer.

“Much obliged. You should write a story about me.” “Tell me why.” I was trying to bait the old drunk. “I lived a thousand lives. I would make good fodder for your paper.” I slammed my beer. “Mr. Wilson, tell me about it.”

“I was born in Winters Texas. My father was a sharecropper. My mother a prostitute.” “I thought you said you were born in Dallas.” “No, it was Winters. The small town in the west. I had three brothers all with different mothers. My father killed himself with a shot gun. He couldn’t afford to feed us.” I noticed Mr. Wilson’s drink had been emptied. “You care for another Jim?” “Yes, my boy.” I ordered him another drink. You mind if I write this down?” “Feel free.”

“They put us in the nervous hospital after that. My older brothers ran away. I got sent to the Mason home in Ft. Worth. We had a hell of a football team. Of course back then nobody played with pads. Not like the pussies today.” I pretended to jot down a few things on a cocktail napkin. I knew Jim was bullshitting, but played along.

“I never finished school because of the war. I joined the marines at age sixteen. I did three tours in the Pacific. I don’t know how many Japs I killed.” I ordered a couple more drinks. Mr. Wilson began to cry. “It’s okay Jim. I got you another whiskey coming.”

His tears began to dry. “After the war, I rode the trains. I spent many a year in Mexico. Fell in love with a Mayan princess named Maria.”

Last time her name had been Rosie. I smiled and finished my beer. I was drunk. Jim was drunker. “Good night Jim.” I stumbled home in the moonlight. It was ablaze with sadness. I typed this up the next morning. I thought it came out alright.


Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His work has been in Thieves Jargon, Word Riot, The Legendary, and many other sundry places. His new book Lakewood is out on LOMS publishing.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010.