"Whiskey" by Dennis Doty
I apologize to my followers for the tardiness of this post which should have gone up o Sunday morning. The fault is entirely mine and I will resist the temptation to blame it on the holidays.
by Dennis Doty
“Sourdough” Jack MacGregor stomped into the cabin he shared with George “Flapjack” Cutler, kicking the mud and snow off his boots. He cussed the ancient stove that seemed to give off less heat than ever and tossed another chunk inside. Jack looked around the small cabin at the table and two chairs, the two bunks, and the freshly scrubbed floor. He shivered and cussed some more.
His red-rimmed eyes landed on a bottle on a high shelf.
“No! I won't let ye win,” he jerked out a chair and sat down, elbows on the table, burying his face in his hands. After a few minutes, he looked up, at the bottle. “No, damn ye.”
Ten minutes later, he rose, scooped up a glass, grabbed the bottle and sat back down. Jack stared at it, then poured four fingers of amber liquid. He tossed back half, then swirled the remainder, staring into the glass.
“Ah, old friend. There's not much that can no' be cured by a wee dram o' whiskey ...”, the glass flew from his hand. The chair overturned and he danced a wild jig around the table. After a few minutes he righted the chair and sat, chest heaving. His eyes remained wild. He reached and poured another drink, slopping as much on the table.
“I'll not allow it, George,” he yelled. “Ye'll not deprive me o' me whiskey.” The table toppled along with the chair, the whiskey crashed to the floor while Jack danced around the carnage. Four laps around the table, Jack stumbled to his bunk and sat, exhausted.
He grasped his boots and pulled them off revealing dingy, rotting stockings. He peeled the left one off, dropping it to the floor. The stench of his unwashed feet permeated the cabin. He grasped the right sock and screamed in pain, quickly letting go. He tried again with the same result. Each time he tried to remove the stocking, it felt like his flesh came with it. Defeated, he fell back upon the bed.
Still awake at dawn, he stamped his feet into his boots and made his bleary-eyed way down to the town. He went straight to the saloon and peeked cautiously over the bat-wing doors. Seeing no one but the barkeep, he nodded and went in.
“Gimme a drink, Sam,” he croaked.
“Sure thing, Jack. Whiskey?”
Jack shrieked maniacally as he danced a jig along the bar. Sam signaled his swamper to go and fetch the marshal. He slipped out the back as Jack came to a halt.
“Just a drink, Sam, and don't say it,” pleaded Jack.
Sam placed a glass on the bar and poured two fingers. Jack knocked it back with a satisfied groan and signaled for another while placing his poke on the bar. Sam obliged and said nothing. The swamper returned with the marshal who looked Jack over carefully before stepping up to the bar.
“Whiskey,” he said.
“I did it, dammit” shrieked Jack dancing around the tables with the eyes of a madman.
He halted, unfocused, chest heaving. “See what he's done to me?” he held his glass for a refill.
“What did you do?” asked the marshal.
“Twas the night before last. I was drunk. Ol' Flapjack cussed me for drinking and for me smelly socks. I didn't think, I hit him with the poker. It killed him, but I didn't mean it. He lay there dying. 'Curse your drinking and your stinkin' socks,' says he.”
“Ah, Flapjack, what ha' ye done to me?” he asked as the marshal led him away.
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