A Bottle of Vodka

By Dick Johnson

It was summer when Joe walked into the bar on 2nd street. It was the same old place, and Billy was sitting in his same old spot, while the juke box played the same old “Sweet Home Alabama”, and people danced around.

“Joe! You’re out! Let me buy you a drink.” Billy said.

“What will you have, Joe?” Terry the bartender asked.

“Give me a Miller.” Joe said.

“I didn’t know you were getting out.” Billy said.

Joe looked at him quizzically.

“Kelly didn’t tell you?” Joe asked.

“I haven’t seen Kelly.” Billy said.

“Oh, I figured you’d talked to her.” Joe said.

“No, I’ve only seen her or talked to her a couple of times since you were locked up. I saw her at Wal-Mart I think.” Billy said.

The Bartender placed a cardboard square on the bar in front of Joe, and then placed a Miller bottle on top of it. Joe nodded thanks to him, and turned back toward Billy.

“Yeah, that’s what she was telling me.” Joe said.

Billy nodded his head and took a drink of his beer.

“Have you talked to Lacy lately?” Joe asked.

“No, I haven’t seen her in a while.” Billy said.

“You been out to the lake any? I bet the fishing’s been good.” Joe said.

“I’ve done a little fishing, but not much. Been working mostly” Billy said.

He pulled a cigarette out of his pack,

“Hey, I’m going to go smoke” He said.

He downed his beer, and sat the bottle back on the bar, then headed toward the door.

“I’ll come with you.” Joe said.

He downed his beer and followed Billy outside to the smoking area.

It was just turning dark, with the street lights kicking on. The two of them sat down on a picnic table on the side of the bar, and lit up.

“Hey, I got a bottle of vodka. Let’s get out of here and walk up to the abandoned trains like the old days.” Joe said.

He walked over to a bush and reached inside, pulling out a brown sack holding a fifth of vodka.

“Ok, that’s cool.” Billy said.

Joe unscrewed the cap from the bottle and took a swig. He handed it to Billy who also took a swig. They both made awful faces, and laughed.

“Tastes like shit.” Billy said, and then took another swig.

“Come on.” Joe said and headed toward the train tracks.

They walked about a half a block, and then entered an alley that ended at the tracks. They got on the tracks and headed off into the darkness, toward the abandoned trains.

Joe took a swig, and then handed the bottle to Billy who took a swig. They walked as the crickets chirped and the skeeters buzzed.

“Was Kelly fucking anybody while I was gone?” Joe asked.

Billy wiped his mouth and took another swig, then wiped his mouth again. He handed the bottle to Joe.

“Not that I heard” Billy said.

“Would you tell me?” Joe asked.

‘Sure” Billy said.

“Really?” Joe said.

“I guess, I mean some people get mad when they find out and then they get back together, and everyone hates the snitch.” Billy said.

“I wouldn’t hate you, unless you lied to me…” Joe said.

Joe handed Billy the bottle. He hadn’t taken a drink.

“She was out at the lake a lot. I think she was partying and fucking someone. She didn’t write much and always seemed busy when I called her on the phone.” Joe said.

Billy unscrewed the cap and took a swig, then screwed the cap back on

The giant hulks of the abandoned train cars could be seen in the darkness against the distant street lights and twinkling stars, as they got closer. They both jumped as something took off running through the weeds ahead of them.

“What the fuck was that?” Billy said. He laughed.

“Probably a deer.” Joe said.

They both took drinks, and watched the big light of a train approaching. It was an old freight train, right on time. The whistle blew a mournful tune, long and slow.

Billy handed Joe the bottle, and Joe wiped the bottle off with his shirt He cleaned the whole thing, then dropped it on the tracks and it shattered in the rocks.

“Fuck!” Billy said.

Billy bent over to get a closer look at the busted bottle. Then, Joe moved behind Billy and grabbed him. He pulled him up and whispered in Billy’s ear.

“I know you fucked Kelly.”

Then, he cut his throat. Billy struggled but lost strength fast.

Joe lowered Billy’s body onto the tracks and positioned the neck wound in such a way that the train wheels would destroy the evidence. It just looked like a drunk passed out on the tracks and got hit by a train.

Joe walked away, before the trains lights hit him.

Billy never was a very good liar.

“Sorry buddy. But, you just had to go there didn’t you. You could have been a friend, instead of a fuckin traitor”


(Bio: Dick Johnson is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri.)

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