Jamisyn Gleeson (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Alright, fuck, I guess we’re here now. In the thick of it. I don’t feel too good about it either man, but what else are we supposed to do? How else are we supposed to feel? Here. Let me pour you a scotch. A nice long drink. You used to call it a ‘stiff drink’—do you remember that? And you would laugh because the word reminded you of a stiffy. And I didn’t know what that was back then but laughed anyway because I wanted you to think I was cool. Ha. Ha-ha, man. It always hurt to laugh with you because you made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe, and I’d have to clutch at my guts. But it hurts more to laugh when you’re not here. Thirsty mate? Here. Let me pour you another round. Nobody’s here to judge us. It’s past midnight. I’ve unscrewed the Johnnie Walker cap, give me a sec. You’re just as impatient now as you were when we were teenagers, always asking where your next drink was. There you go. Drink up. That’s my man. God, we’re gonna stink when we get home. My missus will smell it on my coat. Does she ever smell your clothes to find out if you’ve been drinking? Ever since you’ve been gone, all the woman seems to do is smell my clothes. She does it when I get home. She does it before she does the washing. Nah, my missus is alright; she’s just looking out for me, you know? She misses you. She says hi, by the way. I forgot to tell you that. She would have hit me on the arm if she knew I forgot. The playful kind only—just like Linda and you used to do. That’s how you first knew she liked you, remember? She’d always tap you on the arm during lunch at school. She did it when she asked you a question. She did it whenever you told a joke that wasn’t even funny—she’d laugh and hit you on the arm and say Joe, you’re SO funny. Yeah. Those were good times, man. Every day was a good day with you. Cheers to that, yeah. I need another drink. To tell you the truth man, I haven’t been doing so well since you left. I’ve been hitting the scotch pretty hard. That’s why my missus is sniffing my clothes all the time. But … I can’t think of any other way to get it all outta my head. The thoughts man. The memories. We have so many memories together. I wish we could make more. What I’d give to make more … okay, okay, I won’t hog it. Here’s the scotch. Shit. My jeans are soaked. Probably from the scotch, but it could be from the soil. It’s a bit damp tonight. Sorry, mate. I tried to pour it where I think your mouth is, way down there under the dirt. My missus will see the stains straight away, then smell me before peeling my jeans from my legs and putting them in the wash. But I guess that makes her feel useful. Like she’s helping. Poor Linda, she doesn’t have any clothes of yours left to wash. They’re all put away, left in your wardrobe. I think she might keep them forever, mate. Some of your stuff still smells like you, she says. We invite her over for dinner sometimes, but it’s not the same without you. She cries a lot. We cry a lot. I tried to do it in the bathroom when you left us, so she and my missus wouldn’t see, but I’ve given up trying to be private about my emotions in front of them. All you wanted was a drink. A glass of scotch. And I didn’t go with you because I was too tired. You crossed that road alone and that drunk truckie made a corpse out of you. He’ll be in court soon, mate. Hopefully we’ll get him locked up forever, but I reckon he’ll only get a few years. My face feels hot. Sometimes I reckon I drink so much I have scotch for tears. Wouldn’t that be a cheaper way to get drunk? Ah. God. I’ve gotta finish the rest of this, mate. When I’m sober, the world is too bright, and it forces me to focus on things I don’t want to. When I’m drinking, the world feels a little more bearable. Hundreds of dollars for a coffin you didn’t want? Fine, drain my bank. Arrange a funeral that shouldn’t have been planned for another couple of decades? Sure, hold my drink. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve thought of crossing a busy road and ending it myself, just to have one more laugh with you, one more drink. But that wouldn’t be fair to my missus, or Linda, or even the drivers who’d hit me. Dying probably wouldn’t even be fair to myself, but now I reckon the world doesn’t care about fair. Gone too soon, man. Gone too soon. I swear it’s scotch dripping on your grave, not tears. This’d be a good place for a scotch tree to grow, eh? Imagine that. That’d be the stuff of our dreams. I hope there’s a nice old scotch tree for you wherever you are now, mate. I hope … I hope you’re somewhere nice. That it didn’t all end, just like that. Anyway. I left a drop for you. Let me pour it. Cheers to us, mate. To you.
Jamisyn Gleeson holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing from the University of Melbourne. She has been published in Voiceworks, Room Magazine and , and tends to write about the non-nuclear home and mental health. When she isn’t writing, Jamisyn can be found binge-reading and drinking her body weight in oat milk lattes.