Chapter 34, Blog 2
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
Thursday evening, Ralphie, cast, crutches and all, lumbered by with a Budweiser 12-pack. He rode with Nicky, who carted in a six-pack of Michelob. Frank brought his usual case of Coors Light. Harry’s poker pals carried in a couple of bottles of homemade, blueberry wine for their card game.
Sensing my quest was all but over, Melinda invited her friends and even her mother, Dedra, to take part in the wake. Sheila from The Times came over to cover the final chapter and write my track obituary.
Before I knew it, our house was packed with people yacking, drinking and waiting on pizzas from Tony’s. I marveled at all the happy faces. We hadn’t hosted that many since New Year’s Eve three years ago when our house caught on fire. That’s a story that will remain untold – at least until the lawsuits play out.
For me, the waves of noise covered my head like water in the deep end of a pool. It seemed official. In its sleep, my Olympic dream died a peaceful death. But everyone was making the best of it. Shannon played her Katie Perry CDs. There was music. There was chatter. There was laughter. Everybody was having a good time, except me.
“Go ahead, have a freakin’ beer,” said Ralphie, limping here and there on his crutches. “Have a freakin’ beer. Ya ain’t trainin’ no more, no how.”
Without thinking, I shook my head no. All during my journey, I had resisted the temptation and abstained. It was now second nature. No beer here or near.
“C’mon, ya earned it,” said Ralphie, waving a Budweiser in my face. “Whut? Ya still a track Princess or sumpthin?”
Braced by his crutches, Ralphie bowed awkwardly before me.
“I’m at yar service, yar royal highness,” mocked Ralphie.
That did it. For some stupid reason, that pissed me off. It shouldn’t have, but it did. I ripped the Bud out of his hand and guzzled it. Three seconds. No more feeling sorry for myself. No one else gave a damn. Why should I?
… enjoy yourself, you loser …
My, oh my, that golden taste. How I had missed it. And that beer buzz. That easy, light-headed, mind-numbing buzz. I went without it for how long? And for what? My 15 minutes ran out weeks ago. Three beers later – yes, three beers – I was plastered on the sofa and ready to burst into tears.
Except I was too busy laughing at myself.
“You piss-poor, pathetic track Princess.”
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang