I jump out of bed, throw my coat on over my skivvies and shove my feet into my shoes. I run down the four flights of stairs to the liquor store around the corner. It’s 9 am, and the clerk looks at me with the same indifference with which he handles every transaction. I ask him for a pint of the second cheapest vodka he has, and he rings me up, judgment free. We’re close enough to the Tenderloin for him to have seen it all by now, and I don’t waste time pondering what that means as I bustle my way back up the four flights of stairs.
He’s still sitting on the bathroom floor, which is covered in yellow puke. I crouch down next to him as he’s weaving back and forth, moaning in pain.
“Come on, baby, come on,” I mumble as I pour vodka down his throat to ease the DTs and try to lug him back into bed. It’s a Sisyphean task. He feels like a ton of bricks in my feeble hands, and eventually he perks up, slaps himself in the face five times, and tumbles back into bed. The sheets are stained with the same yellow puke that is now smeared on the bathroom floor, the sink, the toilet. We had jerked up in an instant twenty minutes ago as he lay on his back and suddenly spewed vomit in the bed. It was harrowing, really, in its own way, an almost Jimi Hendrix moment that made me feel grateful for my own sobriety, in that moment and beyond.
He had been kicking for a week and a half. Vomiting all the time, shaking constantly. I wonder how we got here, but I know exactly how we got here. Or, I know why I’m here. I try not to think about it as we lie there, naked, pressed together as close as we can be until we can escape this moment.
I don’t know how I’m going to go to work later. How I’m going to get through the rest of the day. Not because I’m exhausted, which I am, but because there’s a certain moral onus that is nipping at my heels. How am I going to sell the poison that is killing my baby in my arms at this very moment? How can I do this to anyone else?
I tell myself that it takes a lot to get to this place. A lot of alcohol. Tons and tons of alcohol. I’d be remiss if I acted like I didn’t want to sell that much alcohol because that’s what I do for a living and I love making money. But I don’t think about that as I kiss him on the lips and shut my eyes and try not to drift back into sleep. He kisses me back, and we both wait for the pain to go away.