If anyone were to ask the staff of bar on 7th and McNaught, they would say that Jerry was there, six days a week. As near as they could tell, he would miss out on Saturday nights because he hated the crowds. But any other given night, at 6pm, Jerry would stumble in, as if he’d already downed several drinks. He would still be in his business casual clothing, his tie pulled loose and the top button undone.
Jerry was 30 years-old, divorced. Two years earlier, his wife, or ex-wife now, had caught him sneaking in one night. Laura had had her suspicions, but that night she had all the evidence she needed. There had been yelling, a lot of yelling. In the back of his mind, it reminded Jerry of his own mother and father. At the thought, Jerry shut his mouth and took the verbal beating he deserved. But it wasn’t the worst of it.
The next day, Laura had packed all of Jerry’s belongings and demanded he leave the house. Thinking this was a fight, Jerry left willingly. But when he received the paperwork, divorce papers, a few days later at his hotel, he was overwhelmed with grief. Laura was the one. His one. And now, because of his stupidity, his selfishness, and his lack of thankfulness for what he had, Jerry was being divorced.
Compounding his grief was the fact that Laura wanted sole custody of their son. At this, Jerry became livid. He knew that he had messed up, and was being punished for it; however, he would not allow his son to grow up fatherless, just as he had. But the court seemed more in favour of single parent who was a doctor than a single parent who was a librarian.
Jerry lost. He lost his wife, his son, his home, and his self-respect. He spiraled down, wishing he could go back and not do what he had done.
And so, we find Jerry here. At the bar on 7th and McNaught, drinking his sorrows away, one shot at a time. The door opened, admitting another customer. Jerry glanced up with weary eyes. He blinked twice, hoping his vision would clear and he wouldn’t see who he thought he saw. But the person didn’t change. It was Thomas.
Thomas came and sat at the bar beside Jerry. The army had been good to him, giving him a hulkish build, and an engineering degree. Thomas hadn’t spoken to Jerry since the divorce. As it happened, Sari and Thomas, themselves married now, had taken Laura’s side. This was the first time they had seen each other, alone.
Jerry stared into Thomas’s eyes, looking for friendship, but finding only anger and pity. He looked down, into his drink, knowing he would find a friend in the liquor.
“I’m sorry, Thomas,” Jerry said. He was looking down at his drink, so he didn’t see Thomas’s fist flying at his face. Jerry took the hit straight in the nose, and crumbled to the floor. Several patrons rose to their feet, ready to leap to Jerry’s aid. But Jerry, groggy from the hit, waved them off.
“You made a promise,” Thomas screamed. “And you broke it!”
Jerry lowered his head. “I know,” he whispered. “I’m sorry.”
Thomas looked as though he were going to hit Jerry again, but then his anger subsided. It was as if he saw his old friend again, and felt compassion for his pain. He reached out his hand to help Jerry up.
“Are you okay, Jerry?”
And with that, for the thousandth time in his life, Jerry lied.