Drop #2: Generosity

He’s not an alcoholic; he just never seems to manage a day without a drink or two. He can’t remember the last. It’s been exactly two hundred days since he’s had a smoke, though, so it’s not like he’s a stranger to willpower. He’s just never found a reason to stop drinking. He holds his liquor well, and has never gotten rowdy or done anything embarrassing because of it. But today, he feels a sudden need to make the day a clean one, you know, just to reset the meter. It looks promising. It’s seven pm and he hasn’t even had even an inkling of a hankering. He’ll have to stay up some, though. It’ll be hard to fall asleep without a nightcap.

At nine, he decides to go out for dinner. A big meal will tire him out and eat up some clock. He’ll drink only water, though maybe he’ll go with sparkling. His lucidity has inspired him to share his good mood and see to something else he’s been putting off.  A Hungarian restaurant opened a block from his apartment two months ago. A cheerful man, presumably the owner, often stands outside to encourage business and greets him when he walks by, and for weeks now, he has promised this man he’ll come for dinner. The place looks authentic and always smells wonderful, but sadly, is usually empty. Tonight’s the night to keep his word.

‘You are welcome,’ says the man vigorously shaking his hand. ‘I am Szjabols. I take care everything. Please.’

‘Thank you, Szjabols. I’m Guy.’ He is one of two tables.

‘Very welcome you to my restaurant. You eat authent Magyar food tonight.’

‘I look forward to it.’

He tries several dishes, ordering more than he needs, partly to encourage the man, partly to occupy himself, and partly because it all looks so good. It tastes great too. Szjabols is clearly proud, coming by often to check on things and describe recipes. Towards the end of the meal he returns once more carrying a bottle.

‘This palinka. Very special liquors of Hungary,’ he says. ‘Maked close my hometown, in the Puszta, two hour from Budapest. Is very good—you try.’

‘Oh, thank you very much, but I’m quite alright.’

‘Very excellence for digestion.’ He sweeps a palm from neck to belly. ‘Please, you try. No charge. Please.’ He unloads a charming, demented smile.

‘That’s very kind, my friend, but I think I’ll pass.’

‘Please, to drink. You eat my foods. You make me honor. We drink together.’ Szjabols uncorks the skinny bottle and there’s no more fighting it. Not drinking is the wrong thing to do.

Palinka is very strong grain alcohol. They have four shots together. He just never seems to manage a day without a drink or two.

by E.M. Vireo


About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

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