Fear

A close friend of mine was unable to face the world without a drink under his belt. I was years coming to realize that.

We all thought that it was funny when during a hospital stay the nurse found a fifth of Old Crow in his bed sheets. She’d raised hell with him. We laughed.

He kept his problem hidden from others, for the most part, but there were times when the glaring truth could no longer be kept secret.

One summer he worked a temporary job driving a mint harvester at night. It was an alcoholic’s dream-job. In the darkness no one could see him taking a nip from his thermos. His drinking problem remained unnoticed until the night he apparently hit the hooch too hard. The boss discovered him driving the tractor across the field perpendicular to the proper direction and fired him.

Later he took a job driving a taxi at night. It was also perfect. No one could see what he was doing. But one night a passenger with a sharp nose sniffed something  and reported him to the supervisor. He was fired in middle of his shift.

Some years earlier he’d lost a leg in a truck accident, so he naturally moved slower than others. He was probably about 65 when he was afflicted with cancer on his tongue. After the cancer was removed we, the family, went to the hospital to visit him. He moved around as easily as the rest of us. I’d known him 40 years, yet I hardly recognized him. He had been in a constant stage of drunkenness all those years and I was unaware of it.

He passed on at age 70. After he was gone I came to realize he lived in constant fear.

Which brings another situation into focus.

A middle-aged lady I’ve come to know shows evidence of a drinking problem. She’s obviously been at it long enough she’s learned to maintain a controlled environment. No one notices she has a snootful because they’ve not seen her in any other state. Not until recently did I realize she is dealing with a failed marriage and the loss of her comfortable home. There may be other issues of which I’m not aware, because I’m only an acquaintance, not her confident.

But I’ve come to know her well enough to suspect she cannot cope with life while she’s stone sober.

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