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In Boozo Veritas #1 by Teege Braune

The Rum Also Rises

I had intentions of becoming a writer long before it ever occurred to me to become a drunk. Long before alcohol held the appeal of the forbidden, sips of my parents’ beer, wine, and champagne merely tasted bitter or sickeningly cloying. Written words, were my only forays into the intoxicating and dangerous. Fantasy fiction was an escape from a reality that found me simultaneously outgoing yet socially awkward and unpopular. I created characters who overcame monsters in make-believe worlds to compensate for ritualistic embarrassment at playground sports. Moreover, I found that words spilling out of my big, overly-talkative mouth were often the source of ridicule whereas words I wrote on paper seemed to inspire praise.

As I matured and graduated from young-adult fantasy to the twentieth-century canon, it was the escape of literature that introduced me to the escape of alcohol. Long before I’d consumed an entire beer, I idolized drunken men of letters like Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway. If travels to exotic locations like New York, San Francisco, Paris, and Pamplona were the initial appeal of On the Road and The Sun Also Rises, alcohol seemed like the best way to enjoy such remote places. The logical conclusion to which I came was simple: if I couldn’t visit the lands I longed to see, I could at least drink in my own boring, midwestern town. If nothing else, classic male American writers teach us one thing, that the train to adventure, sex, and literary praise is fueled by booze.

Though my parents had never demonized alcohol, they rarely indulged in more than a glass of wine or beer with dinner and never kept much around the house. The majority of my social interactions revolved around church youth groups. Thus, I had made up my resolve to get drunk quite awhile before I finally found an opportunity to actually do so. Unlike most teenagers, I had graduated high school before I finally imbibed, but the summer before my freshman year of college I had my jaunt.

One evening I accepted the invitation to stay the night with a friend whose older acquaintance had bought us a veritable cornucopia of beverages that were never meant to be consumed in the same sitting. We enjoyed wine coolers while watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, forced down beer, for which I had yet to develop a taste, and then, already thoroughly tipsy, retired to the back porch where we smoked cigars as we passed around a bottle of spiced rum that we chased with Mountain Dew. Slumped, relaxed, and feeling, at least for a few more minutes, really good, I imagined myself in a Parisian cafe with Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley or some roadside bar with Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise. At last I’m becoming a real writer, I thought.

THE RUM ALSO RISES

As the back porch, my hometown, and entire life to that point vortexed around me, I felt myself being transported like Dorothy in her twister from a black and white, straight-laced, church-going youth into a colorful and romantic boozy adulthood. I promised myself that I would document this momentous occasion lest I forget any detail in the sober light of morning, but as my brain sloshed inside my skull, a few illegible lines about feeling dizzy and horny were all I managed to scratch out before puking into the backyard. I shrugged off the advances of a predatory and unappealing woman ten years my senior who seemed intent on stealing my virginity despite the vomit dribbling off my chin and crawled off to sleep in a hammock that rocked like a schooner adrift in a rough ocean. I fitfully slept and woke continually to puke over the side of my vessel till morning when, still drunk, I drove home and with a bottle of aspirin, greasy breakfast, and several tall glasses of water nursed my first hangover.

So, you may be asking, did your young and naive narrator learn the folly of alcoholic excess? Did he realize that literary inspiration does not arise, without fail, from the murky depths of a besotted imagination? Did I in my dry-mouthed and head-pounding misery swear off the sauce forever. No, I did not! Later that very night as I, only seventeen and already fully recovered, spun my tale of over-indulgence at youth group to peers who had yet to taste the secret pleasures and sufferings of alcoholic depravity, I exaggerated my induction into adult fun with romantic flourish. Even then I was already chronicling my life of literary decadence and planning my next binge.

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Teege Braun 5

Teege Braune is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.