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The Insignificant Life of Rick Blume
I sat at my usual table in Paul’s Café while I took in the scent of the freshly ground coffee beans. Everything about that Monday morning was routine for me, right down to the familiar smell of the blueberry muffins Maryanne had just pulled from the oven. I was half asleep, hungover, and definitely not ready for work. But there was no way I could afford to call in again–not on my paycheck. Besides, who else was going to pay for my drinking problem and recently rediscovered gambling addiction?
God, I hate Mondays.
Paul’s Café was small, but large enough for elbow-room between the few regular customers who camped there each day. I liked it that way as I preferred to keep to myself. Though I’d always wished I had more friends or was more inclined to be social, people didn’t seem to like me very much. I tended to get nervous in any-sized crowd of people, and rejection–even from strangers–cut like a knife every time. You’d think I’d gotten used to it after a lifetime’s worth, but, no. There was nothing I feared more than getting rejected.
Fuck. My head is pounding.
My head was swimming from guilt, and gin. Not for the first time I found myself wondering, Why in the hell did I do that to myself? Over and over again I wondered why I’d drank so much the night before. Every night, really. Even though I knew I would wake up with no energy and a severe, booze-induced headache, I just couldn’t seem to put the bottle down. But at that point I didn’t see any good reason to stop drinking as nothing was really going for me in life. As sad as it was to admit, the alcohol was actually my best friend. Like a good companion the gin kept me relaxed, and sleepy, and helped me not to care that I led such an empty life.
I knew I should have stopped after the first few G&Ts last night… But knowing and doing…knowing and doing. Plus, my mother didn’t raise no quitter.
My head throbbed with each passing second as I waited for the clock to tell me that it was time to go to work. Hoping that the clock on the wall was wrong somehow, I pulled my cell phone from my jeans pocket and tapped on the screen to light it up.
Damn. 8:37AM. Well congrats on being annoyingly accurate, clock.
After confirming that I only had a few minutes before I needed to leave I shoved my phone in my pocket and turned my attention back to the window. The overhead light glinted off the lenses of my glasses as I turned my head, which generated a fleeting white flash that bounced from my glasses, to the plate-glass window, and back to my bloodshot eyeballs. I winced and groaned as the bright light punched through my hangover and pierced my brain.
Instead of focusing on the reflection of my groaning, bespectacled 36-year-old self in the glass, I watched the exciting bustle of New York City through the large oval windows that looked out to the street in front of Paul’s Café. The wind was beginning to pick up and the skies were spitting tiny droplets of rain. Typical for that time of year, really. The fall in New York always brought rain, and damp. At least it wasn’t that frozen white stuff. I dreaded the snow and winter, but the end of fall signaled they were coming. Soon.