Jack was shitfaced on gin. He slipped off his chair and stayed sitting on the kitchen floor, propped up by the wall with his head resting on a leg of the dining room table. Martin told him to hand over his keys. He said there was no way Jack was going to drive himself home.
Jack said he didn’t care if he was drunk. He said he didn’t care if he crashed into a pole on the way home and died. Jack said it was his life and his car and his freedom to do with them whatever he pleased.
Martin said, “Look where your freedom to get drunk’s gotten you, Jack. You’re helpless right now. You’re as helpless as a newborn. You can barely say your own name.”
Jack thought about getting up. But he knew he couldn’t.
“Helpless?” Jack babbled. “I can still fight. Plus, living or dying’s my choice or God’s choice. I don’t care either way. I got guts. I ain’t scared to die.”
From the living room, Madeline said, “Guts but no brains, Jack. And bravery and foolishness aren’t the easiest things to tell apart sometimes.”
“I don’t care,” Jack mumbled. “I don’t care how things turn out. There comes a point in a man’s life when you gotta accept whatever’s gonna happen.”
“We know you don’t care what happens to you” Martin said. “It’s the other people out there we care about. So give me the keys.”
“You care about them so much?” Jack asked. “What about me? You’ve known me a long time.”
“Too long,” Madeline added.
“We don’t care any more about you than you care about yourself – which is none. But, unlike you, we do care about other folks,” Martin said.
“That’s insulting,” Jack slurred. “Besides, people get killed from crashing into deer every day. Deer are a huge nuisance. And they’re dangerous. Getting killed on the road’s just a chance you take.”
“That’s the dumbest goddamned thing I ever heard,” Martin said. “Now, just give me the keys. We’ll call you a cab. Or we’ll open you car and let you sleep if off in the back seat. But no driving.”
“I ain’t sleeping in my car,” Jack said. “I got a home. And if I take a cab how am I gonna get my car back?”
“Not us,” Madeline said.
“Yeah. That’s a problem,” Martin said. “But it’s your problem. It’s nobody else’s problem and nobody else ought to have to deal with the consequences of your mistake, Jack.”
“I’m driving,” Jack insisted. He heaved like he was going to vomit.
Martin said, “If you were talking this way sober I’d say you’re a sociopath, Jack.”
Jack was slumped forward. His chin was in his chest. His head lolled around, knocking into the table. With his eyes closed, he said, “Madeline’s chicken Kiev stinks. I’d rather eat dog food.”
“Good, since your breath smells like dog shit,” Madeline said.
“Insult my wife’s cooking all you want. You’re not driving home,” Martin said.
“But I’m a good guy,” Jack pleaded. “Ask my kids. I put ’em all through college.”
Jack gave one final dry heave before completely falling to the floor, passed out. It was the best thing for everybody, even though there was a decent chance he’d end up pissing or puking all over himself. Then again, at least he’d passed out on the linoleum.
Martin called his name. Jack couldn’t respond.
“He’s out,” Martin said.
Martin told his wife to help him get Jack to the couch.
Marilyn refused, saying he might puke on it overnight.
“Let him lay there like an animal,” she said. “That’s all he is anyway, not giving two hoots about anybody. And if he pukes or pisses, I’m rubbing his nose in it just like a dog.”
“Like he said, he put his kids through college. He’s not an animal,” Martin said.
“I don’t care,” Madeline said. “We’re leaving him on the floor.”
Martin agreed so they left Jack lying there on the linoleum, in his shoes, for the rest of the night.