Another vodka shot wasn’t going to help his anxiety. The Xanax was the more likely aid at this point of the night, particularly when you added in the four shots he’d downed already. Drinking alone was necessary for Clint, now more than ever. After punching out his only real friend over what was essentially a minor difference of opinion, he had no options. No girlfriend or even a colleague from work to turn to. He worked remote IT support from home, so he couldn’t connect in a real-world sense to his fellow teammates, some of whom lived thousands of miles away.

He was lonely and he used to be able to cope with it-lots of video games and Mountain Dew-but those days were behind him. Gobbling Xanax and drinking too much vodka were his preferred methods now and he knew it might kill him. Still, he reached for more alcohol, determined somehow to go lower than he had ever had before.

He couldn’t say why he hadn’t formed connections with people through the years. He only knew it was painful to talk about himself, as if it was a betrayal to reveal his true thoughts and feelings to someone else. So, he was an apparition in this world, existing on the other end of a remote chat session if you needed help setting up your cable box. It was never enough for him, but who could he tell?

© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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