I had forgotten

how well Mark Spragg writes!

When I’m back on my horse I’m seized with the sudden fear that two bottles might not be enough this year.  I’ve seen the old man before he gets his first drink  in the morning, and the difference between the old man drunk and the old man getting drunk is the difference between a house cat and a wolverine.  The horses are already edgy, but at least the sky is clearing.

There is whiskey stashed everywhere in the kitchen and pantry at the lodge.  In the flour bins, behind canned goods; bottles rattle in the backs of silverware drawers.  He keeps a bottle wrapped in sackcloth and buried in the ground meat in the walk-in cooler.  My mother has found one in an empty milk carton in the fridge.  Every week I drag two gunny sacks of empty beer cans out of the cabin.  He claims that beer is nutritious.  Like taking vitamins.  “Gives me gas,” he’s told me, “but it’s a small price to pay for your health.”

My father packs in four cases of bourbon to get the old man through the thirty-days in hunting camp.  I try to imagine how he gets by in the winters.  In the summers and falls we feed him, house him, but he never takes anything away.  He trades his wages for booze.

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