by: Reggie Barnes (Copyright © 2011)

I remember one night when I was driving home late from a friend’s house. He had a small get together, celebrating just for the sake of celebrating, and I was in attendance. We talked about jobs, politics… women, you know, your usual informal hoopla. Then, as we came near the close, my friend asked me if I was happy with my life. I laughed and told him yes without thinking. He asked me again, this time with a pleading seriousness and held my shoulder, “Are you happy with your life?” Again I told him yes.I shrugged if off believing he had a little too much hoopla and I glanced at the coat rack. He saw my eyes and asked me to wait a minute. So, I waited and watched him disappear into the kitchen. I could hear him open the refrigerator door and then close it shut. He emerged holding two bottles in his hands and I immediately told him that I had to get going. He lived around twenty-five miles from where I stayed in the city and the curves that wound down the hill can be down right dangerous, especially to someone who had as much to drink as I had. He shook his head and said that the ales were for when I’d made it home, then handed them to me with specific instructions. One of the bottles was for me and the other with the thumb nail scratch was for him. I told him thank-you, took the elixirs and my coat then headed out the door.Standing next to my car I could feel the full effect of the intoxicating evening, so I leaned against the driver’s side door for a moment. The cold beer in my hands felt good and I decided to relieve my quavering by stroking a bottle across my forehead. The night was old and I didn’t have to work in the morning so off went the top of the Pale Ale. It felt good going down and after observing the label I knew it was the one for me.

After I finished it I threw the empty bottle in some shrubbery and sat in my car with my friend’s bottle and my coat lying next to me. Quickly, I started my engine and headed for home. Shortly afterwards, I glanced at my watch then looked to the horizon of trees. Dawn would be coming soon.

The curves were monstrous in the darkness and it took all I had just to stay awake. Finally, I turned on some music to try to liven myself up a little. Mozart; Symphony no. forty in G minor – Molto Allegro! – Wrong move. Within the first sweep of the violin’s, “Du-du-da du-du-da du-du-da-di,” I was fading fast. The road was coming at me through slits in my closed eyelids. Suddenly, I saw a shadow and something gleaming from within it in the middle of the road. My heart raced as my eyes sprang open. Instinct took over and I cut my vehicle hard to the left while simultaneously hitting the brakes. The car skid tail end to the right, across the centerline and onto the gravel, then to a stop. My eyes were wide open the entire time though I didn’t see a thing. The engine was still running along with the violins and I’m sure, had I looked, my face was as pale as the moon. I looked to the road to see what had awakened me but saw nothing. Slowly I opened my door and stepped out of the car. To my left stood the outline of murmuring witnesses to the event – the oaks and the pines. To my right lay the city in a dark hazy light.

A few deep breaths were what I needed – and took. Around the front of the car I ambled and saw the guardrail of the road was crumpled against the right side of my car. I had come about a full 180 degrees. A little faster and I could have been the new Mt. Rushmore.

Back around the car I went and saw Francis’ beer and my coat on the passenger floor. I leaned through the open doorway, reached past the coat and grabbed the beer.

“This is for you Francis,” I said as I sat in the driver’s seat and opened the top. Again it was cool and soothing and I sighed deeply.

Then it happened. I began to consider the puzzling question that was asked of me only moments before; “Am I happy with my life?” Almost in a trance, I looked over at the city where the sun would soon be rising and felt my feet taking me towards the railing that had been my savior. The metropolis looked peaceful from where I stood near the foot mountain… though I knew better. It was a place of anything and everything. Whatever your mortal heart desired could be had in that city.

I sipped at Francis’ beer.

One of the midsize buildings near the center of the city was where I worked. Before that night I had thought my job to be quite pleasing. Suddenly, it was quite sterile. It paid well, but pay doesn’t make you complete.

I sipped at the beer.

My savior was now supporting me as I sat hunched over. My eyes were fixed to a row of condominiums just to the left of the bay. That’s where Connie lived. All my life I dreamed of someone like her. Now that I had her, I wasn’t sure she was who I needed in my life, or even wanted. How could I tell her that? How could I tell her that I wasn’t sure?

I sipped at the beer and my eyes drifted to my home – Dawn broke.

“That’s not the home of a happy man,” I said. “That’s the home of someone who doesn’t like his life.”

With a final gulp, Francis’ beer was gone and so was the man I once knew. My savior had suddenly become my enemy and I wished that I had come to rest at the bottom of the cirque below. With the empty bottle in my hand I leaned over the rail and let it drop. It took around four seconds before it shattered, becoming part of the countryside. With the question lying broken below, I answered, “No, Francis, I’m not happy with my life.”

It was a long walk home. With my coat slung over my shoulder I strolled and whistled a light tune. My car still hugged the railing with the driver’s door open. I didn’t care… this was a new me. The sun was magnificent as it rose and breathed over the city, bathing it with its warmth. The trees were alive with birdsong and dew covered leaves shimmering in the early morning light. I was happy now; facing an unknown world. My pace quickened as I entered the city limits.

The End


Calvin Shepherd March 26, 2011 at 7:52 pm

My life is happier than it was 6 weeks ago because I made a change towards happiness. I’m not sure if that came with 2 beers though.

Keep writing bro

Reggie Barnes March 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Happier is happier – even if it comes without beer! 😉

Summer March 31, 2011 at 11:43 pm

“Happier is happier – even if it comes without beer”——!! Hahh…….. \(0^◇^0)/

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Reggie Barnes April 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Nice heart! Sorry the formatting didn’t translate it very well.

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