The Death of a Particular Jonathan Walker

From a story I started back in 2011 called “Hank Patrick is Dead, Long Live Hank Patrick” – more on that here.

We all choose our own poisons, our own methods of numbing those aspects of our lives that we are unhappy with so that the rest of ourselves can continue to function in some semblance of an ordinary way.  It helps to know what it is that you are trying to drown out, but sometimes it doesn’t matter.  Marcus was unsure of what aspect of his perfectly acceptable life he was using whiskey to silence, but it was there.  

The square bottle of whiskey stood on the white tiled bathroom floor after having spent 12 years lazily residing in a fine oak cask and it was prepared to now fulfil its purpose in life, but Marcus wasn’t yet ready.  He had a bubbling pain in his stomach from not eating enough or possibly from eating something that wasn’t agreeing with him and though he remembered his grandfather’s words of wisdom that whiskey is good for an upset stomach, he somehow thought it wouldn’t help much right now.  After pacing back and forth taking breaks to splash water on his face or conduct ineffectual breathing exercises he decided to assume a position that would facilitate vomiting.  Kneeling on all fours with his head resting on the surprisingly clean toilet seat he waited for the inevitable.

It didn’t come as quickly as he had suspected or wished, it sat at the tip of his tongue yearning to come hurtling out, but it didn’t.  Of course it’s always the case when you are willing something to happen and unwilling to force it.  A realization came to him that his current situation was most likely due to the bottle of Jack Daniels he had indulged in the previous night; it’s just that he had completely forgotten that fact until this very moment.  Then suddenly he threw up a mixture of bile and water that was rancid in smell and yellowish in colour.  He felt better immediately yet he knew full well that in this moment of truth he could be ready to drink again or lapse back into his stomach churning hell.

He stood up to test the true state of his body.  Everything felt proper so he slowly walked to the bathroom door to test the theory that he was ready to drink again and it stood up.  Before he was began drinking he decided to throw some clothes on, having performed the act of throwing up naked.  What to wear for a drinking session in his bathtub was a tricky question.  Too formal and he would risk ruining the only good suit that he had and too relaxed and he’d feel like a bum in a junkyard bathtub.  He pulled on a pair of worn jeans dispensing with the normal routine of first throwing on underwear.  The jeans felt good, not so loose that he felt as if he wasn’t wearing anything and not so tight that they strangled his manhood.  Next he needed to decide between a nice button down shirt or a t-shirt with a less than witty picture of Jesus Christ depicted as a streaker.  A moment of deep thought passed and he pulled on the Jesus t-shirt.  All that was left was to pull on his trusty brown blazer and then he was ready to jump in the bathtub and start drinking.

As luck would have it he hadn’t felt sick again yet.  It was a constant worry for him after the initial vomiting that a second wave was lurking silently in the depths of his stomach waiting to charge up his esophagus in a sort of sneak attack when he was least prepared for it, but luckily that hadn’t happened.  Before entering the bathtub he opened hypem on his laptop and started playing the popular playlist to have some background noise.  The bathtub was one of his favourite places to drink, but of course he didn’t fill the tub with water, he just found the shape of it comfortable and soothing; it was like a vessel carrying him through his bender.  He grabbed his tumbler and jumped into the tub ready to drown out the noise and enjoy himself, and then after becoming settled in his vessel the sneak attack occurred, but luckily he vomited outside of the tub onto the white bathroom floor tiles.  The particular word ringing through his head was ‘fuck’, but he was confident that this was now the final bit of bile to rise from his stomach and he was sure the whiskey would make sure of that.

Marcus knew full well that he was slightly mentally unhinged.  He knew that it was odd to be sitting in a bathtub cradling a bottle of whiskey and mulling over life.  These things he knew and accepted, but he refused to consider talking to himself as strange.  It was simply a therapeutic method of working out what he wanted to do next and how to go about it.  He hadn’t started talking to himself yet as he had only had a small sip of the beautiful amber coloured drink referred to as whiskey and he was still more interested in savouring the warm flavours swishing around in his mouth than in contemplating his existence.

Whiskey was by far his favourite beverage and though he admitted there were decent vodkas with their crisp and icy taste, good tequilas with their golden colour, gins that blended beautifully with tonic and cucumbers, and of course well-rounded rums with their sugary bite, he believed that any type of whiskey surpassed them all.  So, no matter what level of whiskey touched his lips, he savoured the first sip which was in all respects his happy place.

He lay in the bathtub as one would, with his head resting on a towel at the end opposite the tap and his knees popping up because the length of the bathtub restricted him from fully stretching out.  It was comforting to him when he was drinking, but frankly he couldn’t stand it when the bathtub was filled with water; he would be laying the same way and most likely he would be drunk, but it just didn’t feel as satisfying.  He supposed that it might have something to do with his hands becoming crinkly messes and the smell of the water after it had absorbed all of the dirt from his skin.  After two more large swigs of whiskey and he had drank about an eighth of the bottle and was ready to move into phase two.

 “Why are you sitting in the tub again?” he asked himself.

He mulled it over before responding, “It’s too uncomfortable to sit in a chair and drink and it’s too hard to drink when I’m laying down in bed.”

“Sure, but you’re fully dressed like you’re meeting someone – what gives”

“I might head out and hit the tables a bit later, but for now I just want to think about shit.”

Every sentence he uttered back and forth to himself made him feel more reassured and a touch happier, but only on the surface.

“So why are you so pissed with life that you have to blend your blood with alcohol?”

“You know how it is, just the daily grind can wear you down.”

“Yeah, but that’s a pretty sad excuse to hit the bottle.  Shit, everyone has problems, but that’s no reason to check-in to a hotel and abuse yourself.”

“I know, but it’s not just that.”

“Well what is it then?  Say it out loud.”

“No.”

He often had similar conversations when he jumped into the bathtub to drink, but he never pushed himself past that point.  The reason he was drinking so heavily was that his sister had disappeared ten years ago and they had never found a body or even a trace of where she had gone.   Deep down he knew she was dead, and he thought about it and internally admitted it was a fact.  Still, for whatever reason he chose not to say it out loud.  It didn’t bear over the rest of his life because he chose to channel it into these nights that he would spend alone.

A mellow remix of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ started playing through his computer transitioning him from hyper-contemplative to a thought free bliss.  He took two large gulps straight from the whiskey bottle, having abandoned the tumbler, leaving it about half empty.  

There was a ring from within the room followed by one immediately after next to the toilet.  Even if he had been standing up it was unlikely that he would have answered it – there was no reason for anyone to be calling him.

“Why else are you here?” he questioned himself.

“Stop pushing it.”

“Look, I’m you, so I know there’s another reason, and you know full well that you’ll feel better when you say it out loud.  It’s akin to exorcising it from you body.  Sure a similar feeling might come back to posses you later, but this one will be gone forever.”

“That’s a good way of thinking about it.”

“I know…now say it.”

“I’m bored shitless with life.  I don’t hate my life or the people in it and I’m not fed up with the day to day any more than anyone else is, I’m just bored at the way I perceive the world and I don’t know how to change it.  Look at me; I have a basic lens where I can’t see beyond the family and job.  The world looks the same every day and I don’t have any impetus to see it any differently without destroying everything that’s already there.”

“Would it be worth it to see the world in a whole new light if it completely destroyed everything you already have?”

“I think that’s the route of the problem,” he took a long hard draw from his bottle, “that most of the time the answer to that question is yes it would be worth it.”

There was a pause and then he swigged from the bottle until there was only about a shot left before asking himself, “If someone walked up to you and offered you a new life tonight you would take it?”

“Yeah, beyond a reasonable doubt; I’d throw off the shackles of my current life without only a moments hesitation and I would live that new life very differently.”

“Pursue the arts?  Sciences?”

“I’m not sure.  I’ve always been interested in most aspects of humanity except of course its constant struggle for survival; so as long as I wasn’t fighting tooth and nail to put food in my mouth and I didn’t have anyone else to feed, I’d be happy.”

He stopped his conversation there.  At times he hated his rants equally as he was bored with his life.  It was unfair to be upset with something he had built himself and to be angry with his family, which he chose to have, and loved dearly.  Phase two was coming to an end and he was transitioning into phase three.  All the remained really was to kill off Jonathan Walker.  He took one last gulp straight from the bottle killing it off and then laid it to rest on the bathroom floor; it had been a delicious bottle of Johnnie Walker.

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