It was late, maybe 11pm, work was hell and I needed a drink. I pulled into the corner bar near my hotel. I started my usual process of talking myself out of going in, but it never worked. I was by myself in North Carolina traveling for my job. At the time, I was teaching road safety and knew that the last thing I should be doing is drinking. Being the alcoholic I am, just that thought wasn’t going to stop me. I needed to try and sedate the depression creeping in to steal whatever self-empowerment I had gained that day. I slowly made my way into the old dark and rustic bar. The cute 30-year-old bartender, Amy, gave me a nod as I made my way to the dim and lonely spot at the end of the bar. This had been my seat for the last three weeks. It was somewhat quiet and away from everyone.
Amy looks over with a smirky smile and says, ” I’m guessing another long day, Josh.” I nod as she slides a glass down the bar to me. She grabs the bottle of Pinnacle Vodka and starts making her way down to me while yelling at George, the resident drunk, who’s playing grab-ass with one of the young patrons. As she walks towards me, I can’t help but notice her 5′ 2” curvy petite body and long dusty blonde hair. As she looks up, with her bright green eyes and a smile of undeniable confidence, my body tenses up as the memories start flooding in of the past week’s drunken after-bar sex. She was beautiful, and I was broken. She was the type that thought she could fix me, I guess, and that this was just a phase I was going through.
I never bothered to tell her the truth that I had been this way for as long as I can remember. She leans over, pours my glass to the rim, and puts the bottle next to it as if it was deemed mine the minute I walked in. She folds her arms on the bar and looks at me as if she knew my every thought. She then pours a glass for herself and says,” so when you leave for back home are you going to just forget about me and move on with life .” Well, shit, I guess she can read my mind. I sigh and say, “not tonight, Amy, I’m not in the mood.” I get a disappointing look as she mumbles, “imagine that.” Then she walks off yelling at George again and tends to the other patrons. I finish my first glass and look over, and in a booth sits an old man reading the paper. He has his old beat-up ball cap sitting on the table and an unlit half cigar in his mouth that looks like he has been favoring it all day. His cowboy boots are muddy, his jeans rusty looking, and he has a well-worked in flannel shirt on with the sleeves rolled up.
I wave to Amy, and she makes her way over. I ask her who he was and why isn’t he drinking. She said that his name is Mr. Marsher. His wife died 6 years ago. Almost every day since then, he’s been coming in here at the same time. He sits at the same seat and never talks, but to say hi and thank you. He only drinks water, and an occasional cup of coffee, then reads his paper and leaves after about an hour or so. She grabs my bottle and fills my glass back up for me, pours herself another, and walks off.
I have been coming here the past three weeks and never noticed him. I grab my glass and walk over and ask him if I can sit with him. He gives me a confused look, then shrugs and nods. I sit down, loosen my tie and start drinking. We sit in silence for what seemed to be about ten minutes. I feel compelled to say something, so I asked him how his day was. He looks up from the paper with an annoyed look on his face and says, “just fine, and you?” I take another drink and tell him all about my day, complaining about how frustrating it was with my class. I go on about how the company needs better equipment and how badly I thought I was underpaid. He never budged but to wave Amy over and ask for a cup of coffee. I finally finished and right on time for Amy to return and fill my glass and give Mr. Marsher his coffee. I get a confused look from Amy as she walked away. He surprisingly speaks and asks if I was married and had any kids. I said yes, but separated and in the process of eventually getting divorced and that I had four kids. He gave this odd grunt and asked me about Amy and me. I nervously replied that it’s just a fling. He chuckled and asked if she knew that. I didn’t say anything. A powerful sense of guilt overcame me. I finished my glass off and told him the truth that she doesn’t, that she thinks this will all have some fairy tale ending, and I will be sober. He stares at me in disbelief that I actually just told him the truth. He drinks his coffee in silence for a moment then tells me he was married once to a beautiful woman named Elane. Elane was a local school teacher who came from a good family. She never got in trouble, loved her family, and was well respected in the community.
After her mother passed, she started drinking. Mr. Marsher never gave it a second look. He thought, well, she deserves a drink every now and then. After a short period, she lost her job for being intoxicated at work and was rapidly getting worse with her drinking. Mr. Marsher started to get depressed as well. He didn’t know what to do to help her. He was frustrated when his farm work started slacking because he was taking care of her. Bills were piling up, and they were on the verge of losing the farm to the bank. He then started drinking too. One night they got in a huge fight, and Elane left to the bar, the same one we are sitting in now.
Mr. Marsher sat at home drinking and then decided to find her and try to work things out. He got in his truck and went towards the bar. The bar was about to close, and Elane had drunk enough and was heading out. A fight had broken out in front of the bar. Elane stumbled her way around but was not paying attention to the road. A car swerved, nearly hitting her. She was way too drunk to drive but must have assumed that she would be fine since the house was right down the road. Elane drove off and headed towards the house. About a half a mile down the road, she must have lost all focus and drove head-on into a tow truck parked off the road in the grass. She died instantly. She was thrown from the car and was said to have broken her neck on impact. Mr. Marsher pulled up to the scene just moments after the crash. He found her lifeless body 20 feet from the car.
He held her till the cops came. Repeating the words, I’m sorry and rocking her back and forth in his arms. After that night, Mr. Marsher never drank again, never remarried, and never stopped mourning the loss of his wife. He returns to the bar every day to remind himself of what alcohol did to his life and to maybe feel a small connection to his dead wife. He says they used to sit in that same booth we were sitting in. I sat in shock as Mr. Marsher got up, and he looked at me with glossy eyes as if he could break down at any moment. He left some money on the table, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “don’t take life for granted, kid, and I hope you find peace one day.” and walked out of the bar. I sat alone for what must have been 20 minutes before Amy came back to fill my glass again. She asked me what all that was about. I never did tell her. I stayed in that booth alone and drank till the bar closed. Then Amy locked up, and we left. A week later, I went back home only to return in two weeks for more classes. I stayed with Amy, but it was short-lived. She got sick of the depression and the never-ending drinking. I went back home to the hell I was living, wishing I hadn’t messed up everything with Amy. Then realizing she was better off without me. I still, to this day, will never forget Mr. Marsher’s story of how alcohol destroyed his life and how he lived in a never-ending cycle of sadness and pain. I’m sure he’s gone now and hopefully at peace. I always sit back and wonder, though, who is sitting there now at the booth in the bar.
I hope you got something out of my story, and I hope you hold your loved ones close. If you or a loved one suffer from a mental illness, remember, there is help out there. Now all of my stories are honest and true. Except for this one, it is all entirely made up. Well, there are some genuine parts, but I’m not telling you which parts at this moment. I hope I didn’t disappoint you, but there are many lessons in this story and hopefully things for you to think about. The tragic death from drunk driving, the mental breakdown that Elane had, the messed-up relationship with Amy and me, Mr. Mashers overwhelming depression, and more. Thank you for reading my stories, and I hope they help someone and remember You {R} Not Alone.



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