It’s interesting to watch the intellectual gymnastics a drunk will go through to convince an audience he doesn’t have a drinking problem anymore. My friend Ken dropped by Saturday night, after being missing in action for a while, and he claims he’s cleaned up his act. He also brought twelve-year-old single malt Scotch with him, which means he wants something because everyone knows there isn’t anything I like more than twelve-year-old single malt Scotch, at least when it comes to drinking.
The last time Ken was over he tried to kick Sam, and Sam hasn’t forgotten nor has he forgiven. Some may question me centering my moral compass within a creature as damaged as Sam but I really do not have a problem with it; if Sam doesn’t trust you why should I? But I also cannot pass up an interesting story. Ken has been divorced twice in the last eighteen months, and at his side, he has a woman he introduces as his fiancée, and at this she gives me a very odd look. Sam likes the woman. Okay, Sam likes all women. She is enthralled with the puppy Lucas, and both she and Ken are amazed he’s only nine months old. Lucas is getting big. I’m impressed with Luke’s manners around strangers. He doesn’t jump up on Sandy, Ken’s lastest, and he doesn’t fight with Sam over her attention. ( Bert doesn’t socialize that much) Sandy seems to be a bright and energetic young woman, likely fifteen years Ken’s junior, but something is amiss with his misses. The other shoe hasn’t dropped.
Ken went into rehab, and now only “drinks socially”, or so he says. Sandy nods her head in unison with him, as if she’s bought into all this, and they talk about Ken going back to work as a contractor, and maybe starting his own company. In this economy, that’s going to take some cash, and Sandy looks a little better off than the lounge lizard Ken was wearing last time he married. I mention Ken’s reputation as a serious drinker, and wonder aloud how this might affect anyone wanting to hire him. The loop is repeated, the spiel is practiced, and Ken has always been able to charm his way into almost anything. I sip the Scotch and hope they leave the bottle with me. But it’s that dammed other shoe I’m waiting for.
I try to fish the story out of them by asking them where they’re living. Last time around, Ken was hunting a place to live. But they’ve got a place in Tallahassee, and I wonder if she will be able to keep him out of the bars there. From the description, it’s a very nice place, so that means she does have money. Sandy is a quiet woman, and she also seems intelligent. I remember seeing Ken do this sort of thing in the 80’s. He’s got an audience, he’s trying to get something done, and he is taking us all down the yellow brick road to the land of Oz. The man is good. I mean, he is really good. Moreover, he has slowed down his drinking. I’m keeping up with him and that means he’s more or less sober. Sandy is nursing the first drink she made. Sandy is watching me, and so I know this isn’t just Ken. Sandy is here for a reason, and so this isn’t totally Ken trying to talk me into something. I fight to keep from grinning. Come on, shoe.
“So, Mike,” Sandy finally says just a little too loudly, “Ken tells me you’re a writer.”
The shoe just dropped but I have no idea what kind of shoe it is or where it landed. I tell her I write some, and she asks if I have a blog, and then it occurs to me she either is into writing, or read something I wrote and liked it. We talk about things I’ve written recently and suddenly the shoe is apparent. Sandy isn’t a writer. Sandy is a ghost person.
It gets better. Apparently, Ken met Sandy, liked her because she’s cute and has money, discovered she’s into the supernatural, and then as a device to get her into a deeper conversation, and into her pants, he tells her about Bonnie. Fair game. I do not much like this but it had to happen sooner or later, if I had thought about it. If I’m going to put it out in public then the public has a right to pursue it, to a degree. Sandy pursues. Ken, Sam, Lucas, and even I are suddenly secondary considerations, when it comes to the Ghost Story. We talk about the dreams I’ve had of Bonnie and it’s a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Sandy is looking to neither confirm or deny the ghosthood of Bonnie. It’s a fact finding mission, and she keeps her opinion of who or what Bonnie might be to herself. Sandy has done this before. She tries to find out how much I knew about Bonnie before the dreams started, and if there was anything at all I knew no one else did. Sandy has done her homework on this one. She knows more about Bonnie Parker than I do about me. It suddenly occurs to me Ken isn’t using her as much as she is using him. Sandy’s focus on Bonnie begins to slide a little left of center. I regret the last drink now. This is a woman on a mission, and it involves my subconscious. Bert stands up, shakes hard as if he’s drying off, and stares at her. Something is happening. Sandy looks at Bert and just stops in midsentence.
“I’m making you nervous.” Sandy says, and I’m not certain who she’s speaking to here.
I tell her it’s okay, but Bonnie is a subject I’m not accustomed to talking about. She asks me if she can invite a couple of friends over, and if it’s okay if they come over to talk about “reaching over” for Bonnie. I tell her I want to be sober when we talk about that, and Ken laughs at that one. Ken’s take on this is it’s more or less a big joke. I suspect now that Sandy has met me she’ll jettison Ken.
“I think you need to investigate this a little more, Mike.” Sandy shakes my hand as they leave. “Something odd is happening here.”
I have to agree with her.