The night is filled with "magic" in the early hours.
The lights twinkle behind the bar, like in a sordid amusement park.
The neon crackles and beckons to me.
The ice cubes clink, and the lovely amber elixir is poured.
The smoke from dozens of cigarettes,
curls provocatively to the brown ceilings.
All of it got better, as I got drunker.
I liked moving from bar to bar.
like a honey bee on a mission,
sucking drinks from many flower.
I was a bar hopper.
A lounge lizard.
My adrenaline rush would subside.
To take its place was a warm alcoholic haze.
Then came the rejections from women I offended.
I didn't know why, but I really did in my heart.
I knew I was too drunk, but never admitted to it.
They were nasty women.
A male drunk thinks he is charming.
So did I.
I was different...Didn't they see?
Oh well, so I thought.
These evenings I ended up alone...
most of the time.
Other times I "scored" one-nighters with lonely,
or drunken females.
What I remember most were the all night bars,
in Cicero, Illinois...
a darker, more dangerous clientele...
toughs, con men, hookers, hard core drinkers and drug addicts.
The cops trolled the streets for us at night.
So, I stayed until morning.
I listened to lonely jazz.
I saw the sun come up through bars,
on nicotine stained windows.
All that was left was a few bucks in my pocket,
and bad breath.
I was alone with a few others.
We were the last of the Friday night warriors...
locked in the same jail,
on tattered bar stools.
Then driving home in a haze,
seeing soccer moms,
guys teeing off,
Saturday morning shoppers,
and this made me sick to my stomach.
I fumbled with my keys,
trying to find the slot of my apartment's door handle.
I swayed and tumbled in a heap on my bed.
I'd sleep all day.
Then I'd wake up, in the late afternoon or early evening.
I'd shower and spruce up, and pour my first drink.
Then I anticipated the rush of adrenaline,
The twinkling lights,
the crackling neon,
the clink of ice cubes,
and the endless horror,
of the repetitive nightmare of my song,
which played over-and-over again in my head.
And I liked the song so well,
I didn't change records for a long time.
And when I changed them,
I hated what I had been listening to.
So I stopped the music.
I white-knuckled it every night,
and paced the floors, and prayed,
and begged God not to let me drink or drug.
And I did this for three years.
And I was bored, because I longed for my fantasy.
But I knew it would kill me.
So I stuck it out.
And after a number of years,
I felt a strange peace,
and I didn't want to get high anymore,
or to pick up a floozie,
or sit on a bar stool,
or partake in the adrenaline rush.
So now I shop early on Saturday mornings.
But I look in all the cars,
for people like I used to be.
Like ghosts from my past,
sometimes I see them.
And they are clutching their steering wheels,
willing themselves home.
And I pray for them,
even if God doesn't listen.
But, I do.