The Sweetest Whiskey Sour: Part One

It was not what I had expected for the night. At least not after how the weekend started.

It’s always weird finding out that someone from your childhood has passed away. It’s even more weird learning the details. The instability. The abuse. The final moment when with a pull of the trigger, right in front of her, he chose to end things. A selfish action, one which left the rest of us behind, forvever wondering what the fuck?

News like that is always tinged with anger. Because I wish he would have picked up the damn phone. There are places and people trained to help. Resources are in place. Options are available. But I guess there wasn’t room for more rational considerations amongst all the pain. So that call never happened. And in a split second of unnecessary tragedy, my friend was… gone.


I know I have said these words before. But in circumstances such as these, I find myself repeating them with even more conviction. Because things aren’t where I left them. And in the melancholy of that acceptance, I am left feeling nervous.

Sure, it has been some years since last we spoke. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t still friends. Ours was a common foundation. One built on WildCat baseball games. Summer sleepovers in the backyard. Endless nights taking over a table at the local Big Boy restaurant, pushing their “unlimited” coffee refill policy. Until we broke that fucker.

Our group of over-caffeinated oddballs watched over the years as he tried new things, only to fail. Then he’d pick himself back up and try something else. But nothing good ever seemed to stick. 

He fell in love too quickly, often with the wrong kind of girl. The kind that just wanted to use him. Or abuse him. I think by his loving them, and his many failed attempts at “saving” them, he ultimately was trying to save himself. Because not many beyond our small band of flyover misfits really gave a shit about him.

There was always the underlying sadness sticking to him. Maybe because he just could never seem to catch a fucking break. He didn’t need anything huge. Just a little something to help him keep his head above the rising water. Some small win to counterbalance all the losses.

But, that break never came. And so, he broke. 


And that was not the news I expected to have suddenly dropped into my head on some random Michigan Saturday.

I was occupied with other considerations when I was informed. And that didn’t afford the opportunity to either react to, or fully digest the news. Because I have never been wired for any sort of public grieving. Being that vulnerable makes me apprehensive. And I learned long ago to compartmentalize and shut that shit down. Pretend that the horror of it all doesn’t exist. Simply refuse delivery of more sadness into my world.  

I just carry it all inside my head until the world throws me the opportunity to relax, alone, out of a self-inflicted “soldier mode.” Only then am I able to begin processing the complicated emotions. And tending to the wounds of an injured heart.

The world provided me that window on a reflective Capital City Sunday night.

It was around seven when the usual claustrophobia took hold, forcing me to get up and move. The sun was out. I could hear the laughter of children playing echo through the neighborhood in the absence of the usual traffic noise. Everything around me felt somehow smaller and I needed room to breathe.

Some indefinable thing was pulling me out into The City. And I gave myself permission to follow that pull.

I took the usual route into The City. It allowed me to confirm that the silly ducks are still in residence in their ridiculously oversized pothole. A few strangers greeted me from their porch as I wandered by, an unexpected civility that was refreshing against the usual stoicism of big city strangers. Ahead of me, downtown seemed to almost glow in the first blush of the Golden Hour.

And, she looked almost pretty.

Struggling to ignore the mental variety, I instead took some comfort laughing at some physical graffiti. Mostly because I know that he would have found it funny, too. That laughter tethered me momentarily to the ghost of my friend.

And it made me miss his laugh.

I sat along the river, facing the sun, in one of my secret spots. Foxes are known for their elusiveness and that is an attribute which I often attempt to emulate. Because there are a myriad of little corners and spaces hidden across this city which are special only to me. They are my mental safe rooms, concealed from the threat of more aggressive strangers. My little sanctuaries, carved out of the brusk urban landscape, where I can go to just sit and be alone.

I played a few songs as I watched the river run west. I took a few bracing nips from the flask in my leather jacket. And then I let the emotions wash over me as I began to process the enormity of mourning the loss of part of my childhood.

A part that’s never coming back.

It made me think of Rilke. About letting everything happen to you. All the beauty and terror of experience. And the significance of continuing on. Because no feeling has to be the final one.

So I decided to just keep going.

The night was still young. But I could feel myself beginning to feel old. And I could never properly tolerate that feeling of fragility. So I hopped up, kicked my red Chucks north, and followed the river deeper into the downtown of The City.

The combination of walking and the churning emotions left me in need of familiar refreshment. And the significance of the loss demanded a wake. Even if it was a solitary one. Because it was the best that I could do, given the circumstances.

I was going to raise a pint in memory of my friend.

The bar was one I had visited on a previous stomp. And about the only place I have found downtown that reliably serves a decent Guinness. Being a Sunday night, the restaurant side was barren. But the bar was fairly filled with other lonesome shadows. 

I took a seat at the far left, over where take out orders are collected, and ordered myself a pint after politely declining the offer of a food menu. I was hungry for things that they just could not offer. So there was no reason to pretend otherwise.

I raised my pint once it had properly settled. Made an old toast to a new ghost. Took a first sip that tasted bitter with nostalgia. Said a quiet goodbye to my friend.

And that was when I heard a soft voice, asking if the empty seat beside me was occupied…



If you, or someone you know, is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. Theses ervices are free and confidential.

About Typewriter Fox, fighter, lover, typewriter fanatic, and unrepentant Fenian bastard. Known to few, hated by many, but still typing the good fight.

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