The Downtown Beat

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Wine, Evening, Stars.  

Abe sat in a doorway, just off of the sidewalk.  It was another muggy night in Atlanta; it had been unusually hot this summer across the entire US.  Global warming, schmobal warming, it was too hot to worry about it.  Too hot to even think about it, and Abe was in no condition to do either.  The cheap wine he drank earlier was fully in his system and clogging all avenues of thought.  The grey suit he had put on at seven o’clock this morning was rumpled and stained.  The white shirt was torn and his tie gone…he vaguely remembered putting it around the bartenders neck at the..at…well where ever he had been.

He should go home but how could he go home like this?  Who would want a wino, nope, make that a cheap wino darkening their door?  Not his wife, not Joann who just that morning had asked him if they could put in a pool for the grandkids.  Something for the kids.  She didn’t know.  She just didn’t know.  No body knows.  That made him think of the old-time song and he hummed a few bars to himself.

“No-body knows, the trouble I’ve seen,” he crooned in his best Elvis impersonation ever.  What came out sounded more like “ba-nody knows a-tubble mm-een,” with no tune at all.  Abe laughed drunkenly.  Elvis hadn’t even done that song.  The whole thing was silly and he didn’t know why.  That was actually kind of sorry, and that made him sad.  What was he doing down here?  Oh yea, now he remembered.  Abe started to cry.

Billy Adams drove his patrol car down the street slowly.  He saw the old man in the suit sitting in the doorway across the way.  He pulled to the curb and parked, then called in on the radio before he left the car.  Had the old guy been robbed? Mugged?

Abe knew that he would have to get moving or get arrested.  Even in his drunken stupor he knew that was the last thing he needed.  He struggled to his feet and stepped away, mumbling.

“Sir? Sir.” Billy came up behind him.  Abe stopped and turned unsteadily.  “Are you alright? Do you need any help?”

“Mmm ah.  No.” Abe managed to spit out.  The cop smiled a little, oh the suit.  He still thought Abe was an upstanding citizen.  Little did he know.  Abe waved him off.  The officer reeled back a bit when the smell of cheap wine hit his nostrils.

“Do you need a ride?“ Abe shook his head.  “Can I call someone for you, your wife maybe?  A friend?  Is there anyone who can come and get you?” Asked the cop.  Abe headed for the nearest doorway to sit back down.

“Oh, no don’t sit back down.  I’m going to need some identification sir.” The cop had made up his mind.  Abe fished in his pockets and then managed to drop his empty wallet on the sidewalk.  All that was in it were a picture of his family and his license.  The officer bent down and picked it up. “Do you have any cash sir? Any credit cards? Have you been robbed?”  Abe shook his head.

“I got fired my job today.  Fire my job.” Abe was ready to cry all over again, he was sobering up and he surely didn’t want to. “You gotta drink?”  The cop checked the old guy out again, finally understanding.  Another corporate executive let go, from the looks of it, this very evening.  He had gone out for a few drinks, killing time before he had to go home and face his family.  Things had apparently gotten out of hand from there.  Now here, he looked at the license, Mr. Abraham LaPlante was 56 years old and apparently jobless.  He lived in Carver City, not too far from this end of downtown.  He put his hand on Abe’s back and steered him toward a nearby bench.

“How long did you work for them Abraham?”  It didn’t matter who “they” were, the cop knew that the old man would fill him in.   He just wanted to get him talking.

“35 yearsh.  I work 35 yearsh for them shoo..shupid…” he trailed off and looked around.  “Where’m I? Where’s Beth?”

“Is Beth your wife sir?”  The cop asked.  It would be much better to call someone to come get him and not have this old guy ralph all over the backseat of his patrol car.  Maybe his wife would come and pick him up.  “What is Beth’s phone number Mr. LaPlante?” Abe rattled off some numbers.  There weren’t enough of them.

“Try again Mr. LaPlante, what’s your phone number?”  This time Abraham managed to give a coherent number.  Billy pulled out his cell phone and stepped away to make the call.  Beth was about to get an unpleasant surprise.

A few minutes later he returned to find that the old guy falling asleep on the bench.  He had a choice here, he could let the wife pick him up drunk off a park bench or try to sober him up first.   He returned to his car and got his thermos.  Might as well, it wouldn’t hurt anything.  Billy roused the old guy and gave him a cup of coffee.  It would be at least a half hour before the wife got down here, eh, it’d give him something to do.  Billy fed him some more coffee and gradually they began to talk.

He found out that “Abe” had been an ad-man.  He’d worked faithfully at the same company for over 35 years.  His job in had been to hire big name stars to act in the commercials.  They had hired a young man in his late twenties to work in the office about a month ago, and today they had fired Abe and made that kid the manager.   A kid!

Abe slurred out the details, adding a little colorful language here and there.  Before too long Abe’s wife pulled up, driving an older model Buick.  Abe threw up all over Billy’s shoes as he got in the car with his wife.   His wife apologized all over the place but Billy just waved it off then watched as they drove away.   Gah!   Well, no good deed goes unpunished, eh?

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3 responses »

  1. My favourite so far. Excellent!

    Thank you Nelle, for some reason I thought this would be the least liked. For some reason it was just…hard to do. ?? I guess some words are going to be easier to do than others. Good challenge!

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  2. What is toughest to write, at least tough in terms of emotion, often will produce the best writing. There are places to push past, and places better left alone… at least that is how it is for me. You did a great job, and I look forward to you taking on tough subject matter in the future.

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  3. Interesting. I think it’s a very good story, and *not* the direction I expected you to take, when I read the three words. Wine, evening and stars seems to provoke something more romantic. You did great justice to this one. Congratulations!

    Thank you for all of the wonderful comments! As far as ‘not the direction’ you expected me to take…yes. That’s me all over. Hehehe, I like doing unexpected things with what I have at hand.

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