#257: The Drunk

December 18th, 2013

“OK buddy, OK buddy, OK buddy, we’re going to sit you down, OK? We’re going to sit you down, OK? OK?”

The man in my arms nodded and blinked long eyelashes caked with snow.

A typical Chicago snowy night. A wait for the bus. Snowfall sprinkling like God’s Parmesan.

Up up stumbles the man, stepping over curbside drifts made gray and soggy by the passing traffic. The man leans against one of the far pillars holding up the bus shelter. He occasionally gestures at the bus that isn’t there, saying something unintelligible.

He’s short and stocky, dark cropped hair tucked severely under a stocking cap. He wears a shearling coat well above most’s pay grade.

As he leans on the pillar a few moments, a short, stocky woman wanders by. He begins calling to her for a hug and some conversation, the latter of which quickly turns from broken English to rapid-fire Spanish.

They sit on the wooden bench outcropping within the bus shelter. She leans on his shoulder as they talk about the party where they were.

Soon she wanders off, short and stocky and stumbling through snow. The man stands up. Slowly, ever slowly, he takes ginger, delicate steps toward the outside of the bus shelter.

He’s out there in the Parmesan snow. He’s out there by the garbage can and the fresh air and you can only see his feet under the illuminated ad on the bus shelter wall and, holy shit whoops that fucker just wiped the hell out. Bam.

“He’s drunk as hell,” I explained to the terrified-looking young woman who had just wandered to our shelter.

The woman’s gaze of “You do something, dude” carried me to the other side of the shelter wall, where the Spanish-speaking man in the expensive shearling coat picked himself up off the snowheap he had tumbled into.

“You OK there, buddy?” I asked.

“I … I … I,” he kept starting while dusting off his coat and gesturing wide circles at his face.

“You OK?” I asked. “You OK? Let’s sit you down.”

He nodded briefly and took half a step forward before tumbling into my arms.

“OK buddy, OK buddy, OK buddy, we’re going to sit you down, OK? We’re going to sit you down, OK? OK?”

The man in my arms nodded and blinked long eyelashes caked with snow.

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