The Death of a Secret
We sat in silence with our drinks in hand. The sun—so golden yellow and just about as syrupy as bourbon—traded places with the parchment colored moon. He looked as though he was put through the mangle, Avery did, and he had a rather reddish tint.
Downy, soft jazz filled the apathetic summer night as a lone citronella candle burned a soft glow. We drank each other’s vigor with gin and tonic that had invigorating splashes of seltzer. Avery spoke in a muddled, dented sort of way which held the vowels of the earth, oceans and the frost on his tongue. His language was truncated to his sting, and the many remedies—tobacco, booze and pills—it took to not remember such petty emotions that make a man with too much conceit, not a man.
Off in the front yard, scandal was going up like smoke signals and the women traveled in groups in the same approach as geese—a gaggle. His wife and mine was among them, supremely ignorant of the privation that Avery and I brought to each other the second Wednesday of every month in the same hotel room which we would pay for in cash.
Years I spent with him; I did. He had a wholehearted wit, never lost his temper and was all around a fine man. A complete gentleman when he was inebriated, it took me all those years for me to comprehend that he was killing himself. Maybe if it weren’t as illicit as people made it out to be—our worship—we could have been straightforward with ourselves and others. We could’ve been us.
“Shoulda…woulda…coulda…” I garbled to myself dolefully as I scattered a handful of damp soil onto the top of his coffin.
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