Countdown to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans: Sober Reluctance

Rita won’t go to Mother Goose’s. She doesn’t want to see the disappointed Mama look on Renee’s face, although Renee has no reason to judge. She and Natasha both know that Rita still drinks. It’s no secret that she’s the problem child of the group, everybody wanting to fix her. Meanwhile, neither one of them have had a drink since college. Tash quit when she started dating  holier-than-thou Mitchell.

Rita hates how he presents himself as the perfect imitation of Christ, thinking that he’s better than the rest of them—sinners. She would love to one day snatch that soap box right from under his feet, watch him fall flat on his ass, maybe knock his head against the back of something sharp. Who’s looking down their nose now, Mitch?

Wow, listen to herself, she can’t even call him the name she wants to call him. Renee’s really done a number on her. Or maybe it’s someone else’s doing. Someone higher up, who sees all and knows all. Who hears her thoughts and has the power change them if she just opens her mind up to it.

But she can’t lie in her bed and stare at those four white walls another second, waiting for a miracle to happen. So she’ll go to Rico’s. Rico’s has the best spiked apple cider for the holidays, and the cutest blond bartender who works Tuesday and Thursday nights. If he’s nice to her, which he always is, maybe she’ll slip him her number along with a very generous tip. She hopes he’s wearing that teal blue button down tonight. The one with the sleeves that loosely hug his biceps, flexing whenever he mixes up a cocktail, a subtle hint to how built he is underneath. How she would love to have his arms wrap around her, feel the weight of his body pressed down against hers, taste the salt and liquor on his lips when she takes them between her teeth.

She’s not even interested in fucking, which is strange coming from her. But she just wants that intimacy right now. To roll over and feel the warmth radiating from another body in her bed. To intertwine her legs with his under the sheets, touch and kiss different body parts. Maybe she’ll go down on him. Maybe he’ll stay longer than a few short hours. Damn, now she sounds like Natasha. Hopelessly romantic, dreaming for something she’ll probably never share with Mitch, not even after they’re married.

“God, please don’t send me a nigga like Mitchell.”

There, she did it. She prayed. Probably not a prayer Renee would be proud of, probably not even one God would be willing to hear, but at least she spoke to Him, and that’s gotta count for something, right?

Her phone buzzes in her pocket. It can only be Jerome, texting her a third time to go half on a dime. He’s the real reason she out on South Tatum at 10 PM—when all the weirdos come out—looking for this damn bar. It’s not that she’s jealous of Renee and Natasha enjoying a few drinks at their old college hangout on Tash’s last nights of freedom. It’s not that she wants to take that white bartender back home with her, although she does.

As much as she misses being high, she wants to see this fast through. She wants to see if it will change her for the better. She knows Jerome won’t stop at unanswered text messages. He’ll show up at her apartment next. And he has a key. Fuck! Why the hell did she give him a key? She guesses to make their transactions easy. Come in, leave the weed, take the money, and maybe some pussy if she’s drunk enough.

Damn, she sounds like a fucking addict prostitute. No wonder she’s always high. She’s a hot goddamn mess. Sober Rita, would’ve flung herself off a roof somewhere. Her passion for saving lives gone. When did things get this bad? Six years studying to be a nurse wasted. She works part-time at the front desk at an urgent care clinic in the projects because she can’t pass a random fucking drug test. How pathetic is that!

Rita swerves off South Tatum onto Market, just as Rico’s Bar comes into view, then hangs a left onto Elm. There’s a Home Depot around here somewhere. If she’s going back home sober—maybe have that appointment with Jesus that Renee’s scheduled her for—she won’t do it while staring at the sterile walls of her bedroom. Too clean, too evocative of the atmosphere of an inpatient rehab facility. No, her treatment will be spiritual, but first she needs to buy some fucking paint. Anything but white.


Part of Countdown to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans
Previous: There’s No Such Thing a Santa Claus
Next: Possibilities

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