Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Volunteer and The Gargoyle

Valerie never misses an opportunity to do good. She volunteers for Meals on Wheels, aids the nurses of the helpless, sick babies in the NICU at the Children's Hospital, walks for every cause from the cure for Breast Cancer to the annual fund raiser for Multiple Sclerosis. She even competed in a triathlon for such a suspect cause as finding the cure for Death--she had just wanted to make a point to her competitive siblings about how committed she was to doing good for the world.

Her only vice? Stone India Pale Ale, a local brew that is only served on tap at one ale house in town, a dive called The Gargoyle.

Tonight, after completing all 17 actions to reduce energy use in her household, Valerie craved A Cold One. So she hoofed it over to The Gargoyle. She nearly fell off her bar stool when she noticed her best friend, Babs, sitting in the corner of the bar nearly passed out.

"Babs, what in heaven's name has gotten into you?" Valerie slid next to Babs in the booth. The bourbon on her friend's breath reminded Valerie of painful nights spent caring for her own drunken mother.

"I'm taking your keys." Valerie shuffled through Babs's purse. "I'll take you home." Valerie practically dragged Babs out to Babs's car. She regretted it was too far to carry Babs home on her back. How would Valerie pay for the debt this drive would incur upon her own carbon footprint?

As for Babs, she never could tell Valerie about the secret affairs that inspired the drinking binges. Hell, Babs couldn't even admit to Valerie that she sometimes left the water running when she brushed her teeth. Now Babs was too intoxicated to scold herself for having chosen this bar to self medicate tonight. Valerie's bar. But Valerie went out drinking so seldom. What a fluke!

Babs immediately passed out when Valerie started the car. During the ride home, Valerie reached to wipe sweat from Babs's brow; she only had one hand on the steering wheel and wasn't paying close enough attention to the homeless vet who was limping across the intersection of Washington Avenue and Kilaguy Street. Valerie hit the man, and he died instantly. After Valerie heard a fleshy-boney thump on the hood, she told herself that she must have hit a large, stray dog because what half sane person would even think of crossing such a famously dangerous intersection where there were no pedestrian walkways? Valerie continued driving, too concerned for her friend, too oblivious and not at all interested in investigating her error more closely.

After cleaning her friend up and putting Babs to bed, Valerie walked back home all the way across town. The next day she woke early and headed to the soup kitchen to do her part to help feed the hungry.

Weeks later, Valerie heard from another mutual friend that Babs had been charged with a hit and run. Valerie "Tsked" with her tongue and shook her head. That fateful night at the ale house, Valerie had already decided she needed to find herself a new best friend, and it wasn't because her friend drank too much. Babs became Valerie's ex best friend when Valerie discovered Babs had chosen the wrong drink.


Franklin Beaumont said...

Hi, Rebecca. I enjoyed your story. It was an interesting character study. Thanks for sharing.

Mary said...

Hi Rebecca, I just stumbled across your blog - you've got a lot of great stuff posted.

I hope you'll check mine out - I have a lot of flash fiction on it that you might like. :)

Can't wait to see your next post!