Throw Me A Line

There used to be a place called Jack’s, just west down Central Boulevard from the University towards downtown, which was one of the last bastions of true alcoholism in this land of political correctness. Where you could walk in at the crack of noon and order up a glass of whiskey and get a complementary short pull of beer to back it up. Hell, you could do the same thing at seven a.m. if you wanted or needed it; and if you did, you wouldn’t be by yourself. Jack’s was a place where you never had to drink alone. The world just doesn’t seem to be as cold when you got someone to drink with, whether you speak or not. In this den, you could find all the vampires, drunks, junkies, working girls and the like. It was a den of contemplation; whether you were reviewing actions taken, regretting a past squandered, or plotting some illicit scheme, believe me, you weren’t the first. Many waited day upon day, night upon night for that elusive opportunity that never appears, they waited nervous but patient, until they starved out or some small opportunity opened up to change their luck. They were interchangeable, one would leave and another one would show up to take their place. Every day it was the same, on the throne at the bar or in a booth at the back, we were holding court, seeing and being seen. There was a space in time when someone had discarded a mattress by the dumpster behind Jack’s, and the garbage truck would come each week and dump the dumpster and leave the mattress. It was out there in the back of the parking lot for what seemed like months. One Navaho woman used it to turn tricks until she earned more money than she could drink up and bought a bus ticket back to the reservation. There is a thread running through each of these stories that makes everyone the same. Strip away how unique each of us felt, the suffering and silence or the obvious screams of pain. Each and every one was there for refuge, for rescue. Each was asking for forgiveness, reaching for help, saying throw me line, someone please throw me a line. Pull me in from this raging sea of suffering. The comical aspect of all this is, through all the routine comings and goings, some never even knew they needed or wanted help. Now take this dismal scene and transplant it… anywhere, Anytown USA, any town throughout the world, and there will be those who feel they are trapped there, trapped like flies stuck to a strip of fly tape hanging from a west Texas gas station ceiling.

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