Spilt Drinks

Morris was not at the hospital to witness his wife’s last breath, but no-one there was surprised. Not his daughter, Samantha, not his brother, Reg, nor his mother-in-law, Madge. They assumed Morris was drunk because he was a great drunk: great for missing great moments like his own church wedding—held a week later at the courthouse—like Samantha’s birth, and now Dolores’ passing.

Reg found Morris at home, asleep on the kitchen floor. Reg slapped his brother’s face. “Dolores died,” he said.

“What?” said Morris.

“Dolores died.”

Morris took hold of the kitchen counter and pulled himself to his feet. “So, I’m a widower,” he said. “I need a drink.”

“Don’t you dare,” said Reg.

“If I accept your dare and succeed, what prize do I win, Reg? Your respect?”

“Too late for that, brother.”

“How are the others doing?”

“Samantha’s a mess. Gloria’s mad at me for coming to tell you. Madge sends her spite.”

“And you, Reg, are you offering spite as well?”

“No spite. Hopeless pity, perhaps.”

“Yeah, well, pity’s an empty gift basket. I’d rather spite. Here’s to your dare.”

Morris poured a couple of fingers of whiskey and drained the glass. “Now then, where’s the funeral?”

“The chapel at McSweeney’s.”

“She wanted a cremation, you know.”

“I know. Samantha has her will.”

“She’s a good daughter. She gets the ashes by the way.”

“She’s already said.”

“Good. I said good-bye to my wife a long time ago. You know that. This is just an epilogue. Unconscious in the hospital for years. Too much.”

“Too much,” said Reg.

Morris poured another drink. “She had the wheel. I was drunk. Maybe if I had taken it. Blasted or not, I was the better driver, but you’ve heard all this before.”

“Far too many times,” said Reg.

Morris tipped the remains of the bottle into the sink and lifted his glass. “Here’s to spilt drinks. What’s gone is finally gone.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” asked Reg.

“I’m just saying she was, well, she was nowhere, in limbo maybe. That was worth crying over, that was worth drinking about. Not this. All the same, I’ll have one more for the road.”

Reg reached out to take the glass from his brother’s hand. Morris let it fall to the floor and watched it shatter; the crashing sound, the thousand pieces made him tremble. He cried her name out loud. “Dolores!”


At the wake, Morris was sober. “She waited far too long to be at rest,” he said.


by Scott MacAulay


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