Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Strange Ending ((The Drunken Case of HHH)(a short true story))

A Strange Ending (The Case of Hermon Hamilton Hunter)

Mr. Herman Hamilton Hunter, of Enterprise, Alabama, 1978, had waited until his wife had died, and his children had grown up and left home, before he started drinking again. He had stopped drinking twenty-seven years prior, to save his marriage and his job and to raise his two children. He had told his neighbor, that he had not gone to bars and lounges and grills of the same clubs but he knew someday he’d end up drinking again. That had he not wanted to save his marriage he would have gone straight into long term drinking long ago. He had been forced to stop. He had buried his wife a week to the day, which is today, still standing in his yard, talking to his young neighbor, a soldier from Fort Rucker, Alabama, and a heavy drinker. His elbows on the fence, reflecting those old days he used to drink to get drunk and very drunk he got, and wanting to implement the new ones sooner than later.

“I want to get drunk, real drunk,” he told his neighbor who was a sergeant in the Army, and he called him by his rank, Staff Sergeant Crow.

“All right,” said the sergeant, “nothing is stopping you now.”

“Give me ten minutes and we’ll go get drunk together,” said Herman, “or tell me the bar you’ll be at and I’ll join you there.”

It was in the hottest part of the afternoon. Herman didn’t move from the fence, he said, “Sergeant. Look at me,” in such a tone that the sergeant thrust his whole body up against the fence from where he had been standing, looking across the fence from him.

“What is it?” said the sergeant.

“I spoke to you in English, you didn’t answer me!” said Mr. Hunter.

“I hate for you to go back to drinking, I feel if I agree to meet you, I’ll be responsible for your returning to the booze.”

“I’m sixty-five years old tomorrow,” Mr. Hunter said. “I have just exactly the amount of money it will take to supply my drinking wants and pleasures until the dirt falls over my tomb. But when that occurs—I mean the tomb, of course—nothing will have happened to me in all my life, that I didn’t want to happen to me but one thing, and that is having to stop drinking, I’ve been waiting for twenty-seven years to get drunk again. If there is any time left here on earth for me, it will be used for my drinking and I will leave only a drunken carcass to be buried, I will, like everyone else, Sergeant, be but a smudge or stain, left on someone’s doorstep, forgotten before the door closes. Until now, my wife and children have contended me, or put another way, I had resigned to accept sobriety, but not anymore. Before I have given up this scene, I had enjoyed life, since then, a day has not passed, and vanished from the recollection of me hoping this day would come—”

The Sergeant was quiet and he listened, “Then get drunk,” he said, “hell with the doctors and health, and all. And may your shadow never be taken away. But this I cannot do with you.”

“All right,” said Mr. Hunter.

“All right,” said the Sergeant “then this is where I bow out.”

It was nine month later the old man died, heart trouble, too much drinking. He made up for lost time, so it was said. He had surrendered, relinquished to the god of wine and booze, and opium, his life, to escape this life.

No: 788 (3-31-2011) Dedicated to that old man— now long dead.