He took the bottle out of the box and ran his fingers over the label. He was familiar with that particular brand of bourbon and remembered the pleasant warmth that used to fill him as his mind would slowly disengage. But then it occurred to him that he couldn't remember last Christmas.
It had been nearly a year since the persistent banging on his door had awakened him from a deep dreamless sleep. When he had finally opened the door for his father, the questions came in a flurry "Where have you been? Why didn't you answer our calls? What in the world is wrong with you?"
"I had little party here last night," Jim answered calmly. "I guess I just over slept. I'll drop by later for Christmas dinner."
"Christmas was yesterday," his father had said.
Jim stared at the bottle for a long while before placing it on the counter. His hands were shaking as he reached for the phone and punched the familiar numbers.
"This is Jim," he said. "Can we talk?"
Cradling the phone against his shoulder, he listened to the small gentle voice. Then he cracked the seal on the bottle, slowly twisted off the cap, and poured the bourbon down the drain.
Ray Sikes has written two books, the novel Blues for a Dime Store Guitar and the non-fiction Keeping It Between the Ditches. He has never slept through Christmas.
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