hobart logo

November 8, 2018 Fiction

Holy Water

Nathan Thomas

Holy Water photo

Eight or so small Bud Heavies, two Bud Heavy tallboys, a Miller Lite, and some shitty IPA with a bird on it. If your IPA has a bird on the bottle, your IPA sucks because IPAs are mostly terrible garbage anyway. There’s a reason Budweiser is the king of beers.

Anyway, I drank it all over the course of a Sunday starting at about noon, or just after noon. I didn’t wake up and immediately start drinking. I woke up, got dressed for my first Catholic mass, went to that mass, and then I decided to start day drinking.

Although I guess it really started on Saturday morning. A friend messaged me before work and apologized for not texting and just general being absent the day before. Thursday night she went to jail due to ongoing drama with an ex-boyfriend and she didn’t get out until 10 or so Friday night.

She messages me and she lives just around the block so I get dressed for work and go to see her before my shift. We have a few porch cigarettes while she fills me in on her story which I’m going to relay here because that story doesn’t belong to me but this one does. I’m on the porch with her, I’m there for her, and I’m listening. And she says, “I was literally praying,” for the past few years she had been agnostic, “I was literally praying and I said, ‘Lord if you get me out of here in the next few hours, I’ll go to church on Sunday’ so now I think I have to go to church on Sunday.”

I haven’t been to church in years but my immediate thought was ‘Well, I’m not doing anything Sunday morning and if you feel like you have to go to church then you should at the very least have someone with you there.’

She said she had been to a mass once before and that it was the only time she had been to a church service without wondering when it would be over so we consider that. We consider one of the LGBT friendly churches and we immediately decide that wherever we go, it will not be a fire and brimstone church.

When I mention I’ve never been to a mass, we decide on that.

After settling our Sunday morning plans, I leave and go to work at a call center, asking eighty year olds health questions like, ‘Have you had anal sex in the past year?’ and ‘Of the past thirty days, on how many days did you smoke marijuana?,” and the eighty year old only agree to do the survey because they live alone and their grandkids don’t call but I do, and they need someone to talk to.

By the time I’m off work, she’s messaged me again saying that she locked herself out of her house and her roommate is out of town and I help her get that sorted. I’d like to tell you that I got her inside with something cool like the credit card trick but that would be a lie. My roommate had a key to the house is all.

Saturday evening we decide we’re both hungry and go to McDonald’s because we’re broke early twenty-somethings, and after that we go buy a case of Bud heavy tallboys. We drink while I hand wash my dishes due to a clogged dishwasher, she’s covered in glitter from a Pride picnic that happened while I was at work, and the glitter gets on me and it is still on me as I write this. I say that like it’s been a long time even though as I sit here on her couch and write this on my phone it is only Monday and I’m hungover and we have clogged toilet issues that I’m ignoring to write this. Clogged dishwasher, clogged toilets, clogged hungover heads, clogged life.

Well, I wake up Sunday morning and get into my Sunday best which is just a button down shirt tucked into dress pants which was still nicer than what most of the actual Catholics we sat amongst were wearing. But I get dressed, go to her house, knock on the door and wait. And Wait. I knock a few more times, wait, knock again. She answers wearing a bathrobe. I had been up for an hour and she had just woke up fifteen minutes or so before I got here. It’s okay thought, we got to church early.

The church we went to is across from a mental hospital.

That’s not really an important thing to note but I wanted you to know it.

None of this is really that important but I want you to know it. It’s important to me and I want to share it with you.

When walking in, after taking the weekend’s pamphlet, we look around and try to figure out where to sit. I’m worried about stealing a regular’s usual spot. I felt lucky that the Catholics don’t really do ‘fellowship time’ where they walk around the pews, say hello, shake your hand, and ask you small-talk questions like, “what brings you here?”

In case they did I had aliases for us. She was not the woman who is only at church because of a promise made in jail, and I was not me. We were Richard and Jane Martin, a married couple of three years. I was a novelist working on his second book, I also work as an English teacher in a home for troubled adolescent boys. She works at a daycare specializing in care for paraplegic children, the daycare dayjob being the reason her face was still covered in glitter.

We ended up not needing the aliases and she didn’t want to lie in church anyway. Besides, I knew the guy who sat behind us with his family.

The church organ began to ring out and the mass started.

This is the part of the story where I tell you what the Reverend said and how it was what we needed to hear at that moment.

This is the part of the story where I tell you that I cried during the Psalm, “Lord It Is Good To Give Thanks To You.”

This is the part of the story where I tell you we had a religious experience full of epiphanies and how we now want to be better people who roam the earth doing the Lord’s work.

But you know that I started day drinking after mass, and you know what I clogged a toilet and that I am no better this Monday morning than I was yesterday.

The truth is we accidentally sat in the crying baby section of the congregation and could only make out about half of what was being said because this church does not use a P.A. system. “Lord It Is Good To Give Thanks To You” is beautiful, but only when you can hear it.

Though I do remember two things the Reverend said.

He said that all our lives really are is that assignment kindergarteners do where they plant a few mustard seeds in a Styrofoam cup and watch it grow little by little as they nurture it. That all we are is a single plant that grows and needs to be taken care of. Some plants need enrichment, others don’t. Not all plants survive, but we have to at least try.

He also told a joke: “A grasshopper goes into a bar and orders a drink, the bartender says ‘Hey it must be cool to have a drink named after you!’ and the grasshopper responds, “There’s a drink named Bob!” It killed the room.

Maybe if I had done the research and known the cues and what to say when I would have felt the community of the room but I entered an outsider and stayed that way. 

The only moment I knew what to say was when it got to the Lord’s Prayer. Like a song you haven’t heard for half a decade, the lyrics somehow all come back to you and fall into line like the congregation during communion. We didn’t take communion.  And then the service was over.

We left and went to Kroger’s, the last cigarette of her pack of Camel Crushes hanging out the window still wearing our Sunday best. Her roommate bought a grill so we decided that we were going to go to Kroger, buy some meats, use the grill ourselves and be true porch trash for the rest of the day.

In one of the aisles I make the joke that both of our best days are behind us. That the good old days are over.  Then I turn things around.


I tell her that the good old days are yet to come for her.

I tell her that the good old days are yet to come for me.

I tell her that everything is going to be okay.

I tell her that my therapist would be proud if she heard me speaking this positively.

She gets medicine for her post-jail sickness and I push the cart.  We get a piece of steak, a piece of salmon, Doritos, and that’s it

We get back to her place and I immediately go back to my apartment for a moment. I switch out of my church clothes and get into a pair of shorts and a Cass Scenic Railroad t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. If I’m going to be porch trash all day, I’m going to look the part.  When I get back to her place, she’s begun preparing the meats with spices. She grills asparagus and beans too.

She has a box fan set up on her porch and we both agree that it is maybe the best decision made of the weekend. She also sets up a tower speaker and we begin listening to Loretta Lynn and drinking Budweiser as the food grills. We listen to “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).” 

We eat and it was delicious and the only real full meal I ate this week, and we talk and it is good and we sit and drink two tall Budweisers each and an IPA with a bird on it that I told you I hated in the first paragraph and here five pages later nothing has changed. I still hate it.  But after we drink those three drinks and are starting to get a buzz, we run out of beer. The good news is though there is within walking distance there is a liquor store. We decide to get more Bud heavies and a handle of whiskey.

We start to walk and get to the liquor store and realize once we get there that it’s closed. The good news is though that the liquor store is attached to a grocery store, and the grocery store is open and the grocery store has beer. It doesn’t have whiskey though, which is okay, we’re saved from what would’ve been the worst decision of the weekend.

Once we get back to the porch we start drinking again and look through the ash tray for unfinished cigarettes, for some reason we didn’t buy any at the store. We realize that her roommate only smokes about half a cigarette each time, stopping at the same point. We make a buffet of nicotine leftovers to supplement the Bud heavy main course. We continue to listen to music, singing shouting out, watching people come-to-and-leave the park her porch is across from and it becomes the day we needed.  We finish the 12 pack by 6:30 or so.

A couple of friends come over and we get ready to go to the last show a punk house venue is ever holding before they moved out of the house and move on with their lives.  I see some people I haven’t seen before, I’m drunk, and it’s a good time. She vents to an ex-roommate about her ex-boyfriend situation. We jump and dance and bounce into each other and I drink another two beers as the final band at the final house show plays their final song and it’s time to go the show is over and it’s barely 9pm.

At this point we need food again. We get Chinese food. My heart said yes but my body did not enjoy any of it. We leave the buffet, go back to her place, and it’s time for bed. We’re calling it a day at 10pm.

I get ready to sleep on the couch but I feel like I need to go to the bathroom and as soon as my shorts are around my ankles I begin to puke out onto the floor. I turn to get some of it in the toilet but most of it goes onto the floor. An entire Chinese buffet erupts from my mouth like that volcano, here is where I’d name a volcano in China but I’ve ran out of data for the month so I can’t look one up. The worst thing about throwing up chicken is it always looks and smells like chicken. I decide that I’m too drunk to properly clean this right now and go back to the couch.

When I wake up, I wake up before her. I check on the bathroom and it looks like someone already tried to clean it. When she wakes up, I ask her if she tried to clean it, she says no. No one else was in the house.

I must have blacked out and tried to clean the puke off the floor and wall. I didn’t do a very good job of it, but I tried. I’m glad that blackout-me was responsible. When I get more sober, and get water in me, when the hangover begins to fade, I clean it for real.

And now it’s Monday, and the day is going to reach 100 degrees by the time I have to walk to work at 5pm, but it’s okay. I am a mustard seed that still needs to grow and my good old days aren’t here yet.


image: party