Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Best Friends Forever
 Zalman Velvel

Zack and Steve, both 13, lived across the street from one another and were best friends. The boys had a secret plan for Friday night. They were both so excited, that by Friday afternoon, they could hardly pay attention in school.
When Steve came home from school, his mother was sitting by herself at the kitchen table. He nodded to her, and she nodded back. There was a glass and a jug of cheap wine in front of her. The radio was playing sad country music songs. His mother was drinking heavily now. She drank when Steve's father was not around, which was often.
Zack came over a half hour later. He walked into Steve's house through the kitchen door without knocking. He said hello to Steve's mom, and then went to Steve's room to watch tv. After a while, Steve's Mom knocked on the door of their inner sanctum and walked in without waiting for permission.
"What Mom?" Steve asked, annoyed.
"What are you boys doing in here?" she asked. She was weaving back and forth, and slurring her words.
"What does it look like Mom?" Steve answered, growing more annoyed.
"I didn't know when I gave birth to you that you wouldn't want me around when you got older," she started.
"Mom, come on …"
" 'Course I didn't know when I got married, my husband would be away so much, either," she added.
"Mom …".
"No one told me it would be like this."
"Mom, we're trying to watch tv," Steve said, turning away.
"I'm lonely in my own house," she said, starting to cry.
"Oh, Mom …" Steve said, handing her a tissue. She sat down in the chair in front of Steve's desk and wiped her eyes. Zack turned off the tv and focused his attention on his best friend's mother.
"What's wrong, Mom?" Zack asked. He touched her shoulder and looked sympathetically at her and she smiled through her tears. Steve slipped out of the room, as planned, while his mother became absorbed in conversation with his best friend.
Steve went into the kitchen and grabbed the half full jug of wine. He tiptoed out to the garage, like he had done a few times before, and opened the old refrigerator in the corner. He uncovered the secret jug of wine he had hidden in the bottom of the frig and poured the contents of his mother's jug into his secret jug. He left about two glasses of wine in his mother's jug, then replaced his secret jug in the old frig, covered it back up, and tiptoed back into the house. He put his mother's jug back on the kitchen table, and then went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet. He washed his hands and went back into his room, where his mother was still immersed in conversation with Zack.
"Mom, Zack and I have to do homework now. Can you excuse us?" Steve interrupted.
His mother wiped her eyes and blew her nose. She felt better and said so. She returned to the kitchen, sat at the table, and poured herself another glass of wine. She stared at the jug, puzzled how she had drank so much. She shrugged, and then finished the wine. Numb and cried out, she laid down on the living room couch, and fell asleep.
Steve opened his bedroom door a crack and listened for the sounds of his mother's light snoring.
"She's asleep now," Steve said, opening his door wide.
"Is ours full?" Zack asked.
"To the top."
The boys tiptoed out to the garage with a large paper bag. They placed the wine in the bottom of the bag, covered it with crumpled newspapers, and placed a bag of pretzels on top, in case they were observed by the prying eyes of neighbors. They walked out of the garage with Steve holding the grocery bag, heading to their hangout at Croon's Lake to discover the joys that lay within the large glass jug.
© Copyright 2012 by Zalman Velvel Inc.
You may print this story for yourself, but not make copies without author's permission.

Über den Author: stuv