Illustration by Andres Garzon
When we live our lives on the edge, with no regard for how we conduct ourselves or how we treat our mates, it’s no surprise that consequences usually follow. I picked up an inebriated man in my cab, late one evening, outside a local bar. He needed to get home or maybe he just ran out of drinking money and called it ‘a night’. It’s all too common for the intoxicated ones, having just imbibed in a ‘bottle of courage’, to rant on about some ridiculous situation they became embroiled in, which of course they’re never at fault. This forty something-year-old was no different. Having no filter, he began spewing his drunken opinions during the short drive to his residence. I was all too familiar with this behavior and how easily an innocent comment could set them off, so I tried to keep the conversation light. This gentleman, however, most probably due to his uninhibited state, felt the need to share the ongoing conflict he was having with his spouse.
“Oh my wife doesn’t care much for my drinking,” he confided in me.
“Why is that?” I asked sarcastically, trying to humour him.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’d think she’d be used to it by now.”
“Maybe she hopes you’ll change,” I said more sincerely.
“She’s always trying to change me,” he said complaining.
“We all have room for improvement,” I said.
“When she met me, she knew that I like to drink and she did too,” he said trying to defend himself.
“Well, people don’t always stay the same, especially as we get older,” I said.
“You got that right,” he said, a bit upset. “If she doesn’t drink, the least she could do is not bug me about what I like to do.”
“Well maybe she wants the best for you and doesn’t want to see you have long term health problems,” I said.
“I know, but if I don’t care she shouldn’t either.”
“Easier said than done.”
Just as I pulled up to the man’s home, we both witnessed someone throwing clothes out of an upstairs window. We watched as the smaller items floated down gracefully while the larger ones landed on the lawn with a thud.
“This doesn’t look good,” the man commented.
“I guess not.” I replied. “Am I to assume that’s your wife tossing out your clothes?”
“Ya,” he said in shock.
This situation was so cliché. I could easily imagine, without meeting her, the script leading up to this scene. The numerous comments and threats she made to him about his drinking or spending money or, more likely, both, judging by the neighbourhood where they lived. Then there were his endless promises to change, which never amounted to anything concrete, only leading to escalating disappointment. The numerous frustrated rounds, voices raised, before he would leave the house in a huff. He would always return ‘three sheets to the wind’ after the bar closed at 2:00 a.m.
Tonight, after their argument, he took off to the bar as usual, but this time her anger brewed. This time, after reaching her limit, she made the decision not to continue on the same path with this man who was incapable of modifying his habits. After a few hours of smoking many cigarettes, pacing around the house, maybe speaking to a girlfriend which included many tears, she came to terms that change was overdue. She brainstormed, possibly with her girlfriend, decided on the best plan, mustered up the courage and carried it through. Good for her.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” he said as more garments filled the yard.
Yes, he was that clueless.
“Lori!” he called up to her.
Lori stared down at him as he craned his head out of the open cab window but said nothing. At this point what could he possibly say? As drunk as he was, he seemed to understand at least that much. Her action spoke volumes. She popped her head back inside then after a few seconds and resumed her mission, more garments came tumbling downwards.
“I never thought she’d go and do this!” the guy exclaimed.
Was this his best defense?
“Well I guess she had enough,” I said stating the obvious.
As the reality of his wife’s actions sank in, a look of guilt spread across his face. The man got out of the cab, walked over to the clothes spread across the front yard, and began picking them up with a saddened expression. He was clearly at a loss as to how to deal with this pathetic situation.
“Lori, Lori,” this upstanding citizen called up to the second floor again.
It was all to no avail. Lori ignored his pleas.
“Where else can I take you,” I asked the distraught man trying to make him understand that staying here was not an option.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning, a few months later, I was requested by dispatch to drive a man home. It was difficult to detect his age, due to his smoker’s complexion and slightly burned-out appearance. This guy was the last of my intoxicated fares so by the time we arrived at his home it was close to 3:00 a.m. When I stopped the cab in front of the house with the porch lights on, I noticed a piece of paper posted to the front door. Next to the door with the handwritten message was stacked a stereo, a briefcase, a few boxes, an ugly lamp, a leather jacket, and a few other possessions. Scattered across the lawn was an array of clothes. My passenger let out a gasp.
“I can’t believe she left my jacket in full view! Someone could have stolen it.”
Of all his possessions this undoubtedly was one of his favourites. He took a couple of minutes to study his state of affairs. “This is unbelievable!”
The now ex-girlfriend found an unmistakable way of making her point. I felt the need to bring the posted message to his attention, as I questioned how cognizant he was with drunkenness now compounded in shock.
“She left you a note,” I said.
He got out of the cab and pulled the paper off the door. He glanced back at me and shrugged.
“How long have you been together?” I couldn’t help but ask loudly.
“Not long,” he paused, “a few months.”
He stood silently, assessing the disaster zone, then took out his cell phone from his pocket. Perhaps he was expecting to get the boot, not knowing exactly how or when it would happen. I waited patiently then, after a couple of minutes, made an arm gesture signaling him over to the cab.
“What are we doing here?” I called to him wanting to get on with my shift.
“Just a sec,” he held up his index finger.
He paced back and forth over the lawn, picking up his clothes while conversing with someone on his cell. “Okay,” he said then hung up.
He walked over to the driver’s window and paid me.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“Ya,” he answered. “Just like last time, a buddy’s coming over to get me.”
DALIA GESSER, a theatre arts/educator and writer, has been running theatre arts programs for children and seniors, since 1998, funded mainly by grants from the Ontario Arts Council. She incorporates storytelling in all her theatre arts programs as everyone has interesting stories to tell. Some of her non-fiction stories have been published in an anthology book series titled ‘Conscious Women’, four in the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series and four stories in ‘Kingston Life Magazine’.
Copyright © 2019 by Dalia Gesser. All rights reserved.