So me and the boys decided to take our good ol’ pal Donny to get some drinks fer his birthday. It was Frank’s idea the whole time, I looked at him and I says “Frank I don’t think that’s a good idea.” The stubborn mule looked me straight back in my face and he says “Come on Vinny, when have you ever had a good idea? We’s been friends fer over twenty years now. I’ve always been right, and youse always been wrong.” I had a good laugh after ‘cause he was right! Anyway we couldn’t tell Donny wheres we was goin’, it was a surprise afterall. The poor guy hadn’t had a drop of beer since two months ago! I tod the guys “this is what rehab does, turns your buddies into stick o’ mud.” I did says it I did, cause it’s true I tells ya, true as the sky is blue. I swear tho, it was crazy I tell you, when I told Donny that he’d become a killjoy he got real mad at me, hell he told m I should go to rehab too. What a thought! What a crazy thought. I drinks a lot, but I ain’t no alcoholic! My wife, she durn up and left me because she said I was an “alcoholic” and I says to her “I just like a lil’ drink Susie.” Boy, she was pissed off when she left. I know the truth though, it wasn’t me one bit, I bet she had a feller she wanted to be with over me. And I tells you, I tells you what, infidelity is worse than my drinkin habit.
Anyway so we decided to take Donny to our favorite place, we’s been goin here since we’s were legal to drink. Good ol’ O’Leary’s Pub. Wouldn’t you know it though, Donny hasn’t had one drink! He keeps on denying. Oh! My friend, he really has become a killjoy, on his own birthday too.
“Come on Donny! Just one, just one drink!” Frank says, hootin and hollerin, after asking Donny over tens of times you’d think he’d give it a break!
“I said no, Frank. For the hundredth time why did you guys bring me here? If I knew my surprise was going to be going to a bar I would’ve stayed home.” Donny didn’t look too please at all, not one bit.
“Oh, come on Don, every guy needs to get away from the wife and kids every now and then.” Frank says, he took a big ol’ gulp of his beer and started to laugh. I gotta say I started laughin’ too cause that’s just what I do when Frank laughs.
“Frank shut the hell up! That’s just not okay!” George slammed his fist on the table, by God, you don’t wanna make George mad I tells you, not at all. But as much as I love Frank, even I have to admit that was a low blow.
“Calm down big George” Franks says “Only a joke, a lil harmless joke,” He turns his head he does back to Donny. “Come on, it’s yer birthday! Live a little. Drink up, enjoy! It’s on me!
“I told you already, I’m not drinking.”
“Even after I bought you this booze?”
“Yes, I still won’t drink.”
“Son of a bitch.” Frank took a drag from his cig.
“I’ve been sober for two months, I thought out of everybody you guys would understand.”
Things were startin’ to get tense ‘round the table. “Come on guys, let’s all calm down. If Donny doesn’t wanna drink, you can’t force him. I’m sure he’ll start drink with us again after a few months.” I says with a good lighthearted smile. But Donny didn’t look none to pleased. What did I say wrong? He gave me a stern look and says:
“Sobriety is something I’m aiming to stay. I’m not drinkin’ tonight, and I’m not drinkin’ in any amount of months from now, years even. No, never again. I am never having another sip of alcohol again in my life, hell not even communion wine. The stuff you’re all drinkin’ ruined me.”
“Oh come now Don, don’t say forever.” George sat back real cool in his chair. “You can’t even enjoy a drink with yer friends?”
“I’ll have water or soda, but that’s it.”
“Well I says you should drink with us, at least one shot for your birthday.” Frank’s voice started to get real irritated now, but would you believe it? Donny still stayed firm. I reckoned it was gonna be a long night fer sure. Since high school neither of them would give up on any of their causes. I know where Frank is comin from, we don’t wanna lose our friend. When we heard he had gone to rehab we’s were scared. We’s were scared cause we knew he’d come back actin’ all righteous. Strange as it is, I hear it was his ex-wife who convinced him to go to rehab. By God, I thought the bitch were done with him fer good I tells you. Now I’m not sure how true it was, I didn’t get it from the most reliable source. I wish I could have asked her myself but she moved out to another city. I think it was Houston, or maybe a small suburb. That’s neither here nor there though. I guess now that I think about it Donny did get pretty bad, but Frank told me that’s livin’, Frank always got a real laugh outta Donny’s drunken actions. But when rumors was coming out about Donny beatin’ up his wife and kid Frank got real quiet. I remember I told Donny “hey maybe you should lay off the beer and liquor for a bit.” Frank got real mad at me, he told me if Donny really were beatin his family—which I suppose I should mention Donny denies—he was beatin them for some other reason, it wasn’t the alcohol. Frank was firm on this point he was. I gave to admit though, Donny was a real angry drunk. He also told me one time that he didn’t like who he was when he was drunk. So I thought that maybe stoppin’ drinkin’ would be a good way to not be someone he didn’t like. But I don’t knows anything, accordin’ to Frank. Frank’s never been wrong, so I guess it really wasn’t the alcohol. I wonder if I’ve ever hit my wife, I don’t remember much once I’ve had enough drinks. Good thing we don’t have no kids. You knows, I still ask myself sometimes if the rumors about Donny were true. I suppose I’ll never know the truth, maybe Frank knows.
“Why does it matter if I drink or not? I just want to spend some time with my friends and have good conversation. I’m not gonna sit here and tell y’all that y’all can’t drink. I just want y’all to respect my decision. It makes no difference if I have water or soda. I’m still here, I’m still Donny!”
“He does have a point Frank, just drop it at this point.” George seemed disinterested at this point.
“I ain’t droppin it. You know as much as I know that it’s fun when we’re all drunk!”
Wake the fuck up Frank!” Donny raised his voice, people were looking, but he didn’t seem to mind all too much. “We ain’t in college anymore! We’re all grown men, we can’t be wastin away our nights in the bar drinkin until we can’t function. Do you have fun getting D.U. I’s Frank? Is that it? It was fun for a bit in college, getting drunk…but I have responsibilities now damnit. It became an addiction, I became an alcoholic. I went from bein’ a ‘fun lovin drunk college student’ to a ‘deadbeat.’ It ain’t fun no more. It stopped bein’ fun over fifteen years ago but I was too scared to admit it. I won’t sit here and tell y’all not to drink, but damnit, I’m a recovering alcoholic and you’re still a drinking alcoholic Frank.”
“You son of a bitch!” Frank jumped out of his seat. I was startin’ to get a bit scared I was. He got all red in the face and yelled “I ain’t no fucking alcoholic!” I turned to George and I was ‘bout to tell him to do something, but I realized he had gone off to the restroom. Frank and Donny were staring at each other fer a long time. Frank sat down and then it got real quiet and real awkward. I tell you what, I’m surprised no one gave us the boot.
We sat there, no words. Felt like an hour or two had passed, the whole time there was this chill up my spine and I got to thinkin’, I did I tell you and I started thinkin’ that maybe Frank really was an alcoholic. We’s been friends a long time, damn long time. He’s always been stubborn, but hell he’s changed. We’ve all changed I suppose. After Donny’s wife took the kid we’s all were scared for his life. He just drank too darn much! He was drownin’ in bottles. Somethin’ that’s always bothered me is that Frank never seemed to worry none. In fact, Frank would help Donny get more booze! I remember George and I confronted Frank on it, we says to him “look enough is enough! Donny’s killing himself, you don’t reckon he should lay off the booze?” By God I tell you Frank lashed out on us. He kept on screaming “Donny doesn’t have a problem! Donny doesn’t have a problem!” I remember George got real mad and just shouted “open your eyes! For god’s sake open your damn eyes and look at the fucking reality!”
After the long silence Frank finally spoke up, all serious he says “look, I just want things to go back to normal. I want things to go back to what they were before.”
A saw something flicker in Donny’s eyes. I shuttered.
“Once you lose everything you had, there’s no goin’ back! I’m not doin’ it again, I’m not losing anything else. ‘Cause I kept one thing before going to intensive rehab, I kept my life. I’m not goin back to who I was before. I’m rebuilding my life, and that stuff will only weaken my foundation!”
“So your willing to throw away all of our fun times!” Frank pulled his fists.
“I’m willing to throw y’all away!” Donny stood up with indignant pride. “If y’all want me to end up back in the worst place in my life, then fuck this twenty-year friendship! I’m not goin back, and I’m gonna find friends who will fucking support me!”
“You take that back you son of a bitch! You take that back!” Frank flung at Donny, but Donny got out of the way. I swear I yelped, Frank had flung himself and fell on the nearest table. A bunch of men started standing to see what the fuss was, the Bartender looked ready to call the cops he did. Frank began yelling incoherent gibberish. He stood up and started swinging punches in the air. Some men started holding him back and telling him to calm the fuck down. Donny had left, he got up and he left the pub. I realized he wasn’t coming back. I looked at my half full mug of beer and pushed it to the side, I felt sick from the stuff. George came back from the restroom and sat down next to me.
“Where’d Donny go?” He asks.
“He left.” I says.
“He comin’ back?” George asks, not realizing the situation.
“No. He’s not coming back.” I says. “He’s not coming back.”