This is something I wrote a couple of years ago in a community college creative writing class. Like I said in my bio…You never know what you’re going to find here. Salute.

Because I Want To

Greg slapped his last $20 on the counter and called to the bartender, “Bring me as many shots of tequila as this will buy.”

The bartender ambled over, looked at the money and asked, “Work or women?”

Lost in his thoughts, Greg snapped back to the present. “Sorry?”

“Work or women,” the bartender repeated. “Those are the only two things that drive a man to drink like that. So which is it?”

Greg considered that and responded. “Does it really make a difference?”

“Not to me,” the bartender answered. He turned to the glass shelves and found the right bottle. He pulled a shot glass from under the bar without looking and poured the shot in a clean sweeping motion. “There you are, Round one of liquid amnesia. Let me know when you’re ready for round….”

Greg clutched the glass, tilted his head back and slammed the shot home before the bartender finished the thought. He grimaced and shook his head, pushed the glass across the bar and croaked, “Ready.”

The bartender blinked twice, shook his head in resignation and poured again. “Gonna be a short night if you’re gonna throw ‘em down like that.”

“Yeah, well, we’ll see.”

The jukebox started then. Some country western song about a guy named Bubba who shot a juke box because it played a sad song & made him cry. He looked around the bar trying to figure out who would’ve started the juke box, but no one seemed to be paying the song any special attention. Everyone appeared absorbed in their own drinks. Greg considered the lyrics, and thought,  “That could end up being me tonight.”

He considered the second shot, now sitting on the bar in front of him. The bartender had topped him off and replaced his $20 with a $10 while he’d been wrapped up in the jukebox. Now he had a decision to make. Drink that second shot and this night was guaranteed to end up bad. Real bad.

Tequila was a strange drink for Greg. There was something about the chemistry that when he drank tequila, he got ugly. What everyone called a mean drunk.

When he drinks tequila, he becomes the guy who starts deliberately looking for a fight. He turns into the guy who thinks he can take on the whole bar. In fact, he was drinking tequila that night in Richmond, Va. That was the night he got tossed out of that bar. He was lucky they just threw him out.

Greg struggled to recall the night. It was about 6 or 7 years ago now. Being born and raised in New Jersey and fueled up as he was Greg’s recall of Civil War history was sketchy at best. So when he saw the Confederate flag over the bar and started hollering, “What’s all this Star’s N’ Bars shit? Richmond’s not really South!” The regulars elected to remind him forcibly that Richmond had in fact served as the capital of the Confederacy during the War of Northern Aggression right before they ejected him onto the sidewalk.

Come to think of it, that was the last time he’d had tequila. He sat just looking at the glass. He felt the first shot running through his system. It burned like jet fuel looking for a gap in the line to explode from. The first shot was the primer. All systems running? Check. Pressure building? Check. Headed for critical mass? Stand by. He knew the next shot would be the one that would unleash the explosion. He just wasn’t sure he wanted to light the fuse.

He picked up the glass and held it in front of him, searching as if he could see the offending agents in the shot glass. He turned it in his hand and inspected it like he could use some microscopic vision to spot the specific molecules that would bond with his body chemistry and complete the transformation.

There were so many reasons not to drink this. There was really only one reason to drink it. “Because I want to,” he said, semi-out loud.

“What was that?” the bartender stopped and asked, while he was drawing a beer from the tap.

“Because I want to,” Greg said again and smiled.