Aristotle Troublefield (The Road Scholar)
The first time my pops ever got drunk with me, I was seven years old. He grabbed himself a beer and pulled a Sarsaparilla out of the fridge for me.
He told me that it was the drink they drunk in the Old West.
“The gunslinger would ride into town and take the parch out his throat with one or two of these,” he said, handing me the bottle. “This ain’t the kind of drink you take from a glass, you always use the bottle, ya hear?”
I told him what he wanted and we kept drinking while practicing our form for the game horseshoes.
As the empty bottles collected on the window seal, I imitated the way his speech slurred and every now and then, teetered before falling to the floor like he did. We cackled like hyenas. It was one of the last happy times we had together as father and son.
My moms came in soppin’ mad from her double shift at the sprinkler factory after she saw what we had got up to. Pops couldn’t keep another lick of beer in the house again. Because of this, he saw no need for the Sarsaparilla either.
A local bar gave him what he couldn’t get at home anymore and that’s when he learned to be mean with his drinking, at least towards me.
At first, Sarsaparilla carried the memory of that one night together, now I order the drink because they say addiction is hereditary.
I travel a lot and while I don’t have trail dust to contend with, I still like the idea of using it to take the parch out of my throat when I come into a new town. Silently, I always raise the bottle and give a toast to that night, never touching the glass when they give me one.
BEHIND THE STORY INSIGHT:
Aristotle Troublefield is a literary self-portrait of who I was as a teenager.
My emotional wounds were leaking blood and my will to succeed was as strong as my fear of falling into oblivion.
It was an intense time of self-reflection, self-doubt and vulnerability mixed with a need to fight back against everyone that was reinforcing the negative in my life.
The Gospel of Wolves, Episode One (Novel)
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