Jardine walked towards town. Town was what all the residents called the shit heap that was a few shops and two halls. The shops consisted of a butchers, which supplied good enough meat, a Spar, which was the usual Spar shite, a bookies and the mandatory charity shop.
Jardine was heading to one of the halls. The other was for Masons only.
He looked around himself and considered.
“What a dump!”
He threw down his empty can of Red Bull and looked at the place on the corner. It wasn’t part of the town, it was something else. To him it was a utopia, heaven, tranquillity, it was the pub. But he couldn’t go there, not when the hall called to him. Not the Masonic hall, that was for tossers, the other one.
He walked towards the cold stone building, pushed open the imitation wood swing doors and headed over to the coffee urn. He poured himself out a piss weak coffee and sat down in the circle.
“Jay, how are you doing?”
That fucking name doesn’t even make sense!
For some reason they had all chosen to call him Jay. It wasn’t his choice but he couldn’t be arsed arguing.
“You are more than fine son, you are a year clean! I hope you have a little self-praising speech for tonight. Everyone is over the moon for you.”
He knew where the conversation was going. He had heard Bill go through the same shite time after time.
“I know that this place isn’t for everyone. The AA religious arseholes and the one on one groups work for some but our wee group has a feeling about it.”
“It is a community all-right.”
He had tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
Bill put his arm around him, “That it is! And I am proud to be part of this self-help group. Our group! Our community knows who we are, we don’t need to hide. Anonymity is not what it is all cracked up to be. Religion isn’t all it is cracked up to be. But with a community behind you, you can achieve anything. Love of you, love of your community and knowing that it loves you is powerful stuff.”
In the name of fuck!!
The hall had begun to fill up. Jardine knew them all. There was the baker who Jardine quite liked. He reckoned if any job was going to throw up a boozer, it would have been that. Early mornings and sherry for the trifles, the poor fucker never stood a chance. No matter how much Bill would deny, this was stereotype city. A couple of professional women who couldn’t handle the commute into town while trying to juggle the 2.4 children that they were supposed to have. The guilt alone was worth a dozen Gins. There was a couple of down and outs who used the group as their family. An ex-copper who had seen one too many of whatever it was that he couldn’t handle. The list went on and predictably on.
He nodded to a few of them and smiled. Bill was beaming as he took to the mike.
“OK folks, settle down! We all know that we have a celebration here tonight…”
Woopee doo! They may bring out the fucking Appletise!
“And it is only fitting that we hear from the man of the hour…Put your hands together for one year clear, Jay!!”
To be fair the applause is enthusiastic!
Jardine walked over and was gripped in a bear-hug from Bill.
Bet he is fucking aroused!
“Thanks folks! Thanks Bill! I have thought long and hard on what I was going to say tonight and all I can do is tell you why and why stop. The future is out that door and can anyone of us say what is going to happen?”
There was more applause and a few whistles.
That’s not a fucking good thing you retards!
“I have told you this before. My affair with the sauce started when I was a kid. There was nothing bad about my upbringing, it was simply that I got a taste for it. I enjoyed it. Socialising was brilliant. The tastes, oh my! The coldness of a lager on a summer’s day. The depth of a Guinness. A full-bodied red with a steak. A cold glass of white with a piece of fish. And of course, the nip of the spirits when you were low! Christ I loved it all”
He smiled, not for his speech but the longing that he seen in all their eyes.
“Anyway, I came to the conclusion that if you had a problem with the drink, like pissing yourself or beating folks up, then it isn’t a problem to stop. You know that you are a prick. I am quite sure that most of you can relate to being pricks…”
He had to stop himself from laughing as he saw a few nods.
“But you see, I didn’t have a problem with it. I functioned. I held down a job. It was me who was truly fucked. It was killing me.”
Another few claps went around the room.
“…And now that I am sober, I can see life the way it should be seen…”
“Hell yes! You say it son!!”
I’ve never liked you Bill, you enthusiastic tosser!
“…And it is shite!! I fucking hate it!! All you lot have shown me is if I am going to stay here and work amongst you lot, I would rather be fucking drunk and die sooner than later…So I’m stopping stopping…”
Jardine never looked back as he strode out the building and headed towards his utopia.