We were blind drunk by noon. I woke up in my car when the sun was fading out. My grogginess fell away, replaced by mounting horror. We were in the parking lot of the LL Bean flagship store. I had no idea how we’d gotten to Freeport. It was three hours away from our houses. You were passed out in the backseat, your forehead pressed against a gallon jug of windshield washer fluid.
Your beard was scruffy and quite blond. I rubbed my own beard, enjoyed the dull scratch of it against my palm. I needed a drink. There were bars in this town but none of them were for us. We were no good. Freeport is a tourist town meant for people who wear boat shoes, capris, tasteful asymmetric haircuts. Not for us.
I shook you awake. You dry heaved over and over into whatever empty thing was close – a McDonald’s bag, a travel mug, an empty fifth of rum. I wiped the spittle off of your mouth with the sleeve of my sweatshirt.
It was dark by the time we got out of the car. You said you needed air. I was still shaky on my feet. There were several LL Bean stores arranged around a central courtyard. We went into the one with bedding. You wanted to climb on the display bed, like a child. But we couldn’t risk the cops discovering the empty bottles in the car, nor the other things that the light of a cop’s flashlight must never touch.
I looked at the cardboard cutouts of healthy men with square jaws. Their beards were lovely. I told you about a YouTube video I’d seen where they told you how to set your eyes so they looked better on camera. “It’s called squinching,” I explained. You nodded and told me how your face looks greasy in every photo. I told you it wasn’t true. You put one hand on the cardboard cutout.
You jerked away to look at us in the mirror. You were not a healthy man and neither was I. We had broken backs. We met on a lobster boat and then we broke our backs. On the sea there is no law so we snorted oxys together. You got them from your sister-in-law, initially. You hadn’t mentioned her in months and I was afraid to ask.
Lobstermen get off work at six in the morning and are blind drunk by noon. We continued the tradition, even though we can’t work anymore. There is a scar that runs down half your right thigh and I have never asked you why.
The shop girl was nervous. She muttered into her radio and a burly man appeared. He glared at us. I wanted to pull you away but you wouldn’t quit it. You unfolded every shirt in a display of polos. I was forced to promise that I’d buy you a beer. Still you wouldn’t go. “Rock Me Amadeus” played on the store PA. You told me that the guy who sang that got drunk, snorted a bunch of cocaine, and crashed into a bus. You laughed. My teeth chattered at the thought that we are the kind of men who laugh at that. The burly man was coming closer. I convinced you.
In the car you stuck your head between your knees and complained of vertigo. I wanted to tell you that we need each other. I wanted to place my hand on your shoulder and let you know that we’ll be together until one of us dies. Then I would tell you how that will never be long enough to qualify as “forever.”
But I couldn’t. We had to go. I sped towards somewhere we could be alone.
Meagan Masterman’s work has previously appeared in Unbroken Journal, Reality Hands, Specter Magazine, and more. She lives in Massachusetts and grew up in Maine. She haunts twitter with the handle @MeaganWords.