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As Honest As The Day Is Short
by Kristina England

Charlie Smith liked to drink. But his wife, Sara, would never have called him a drunk.

No, the man could pack down the most beers she knew and still keep a balance.

Sara even encouraged Charlie to try for a Guinness World Record. People got world records for the strangest things these days. Like Leslie Tipton. She proved she could pack herself in a suitcase on the Regis and Kelly Show.

But Charlie had his pride to think about. He didn’t want to be listed next to Rolf Iven in some book.

“The man walked on hot plates... so what? I could lay down on hot plates with enough beer in me.”

Of course, there was the matter of money. And Sara had stated many times before that she had no interest in working.

“Honey, if you don’t get a better job, I may have to leave you,” Sara said, jabbing him in the side.

“Taxi driver is a reputable and tough job.”

“I know, but it doesn’t pay the bills.”

“Well, it doesn’t pay the bills if you spend the check on manicures and waxings.”

“A woman needs to look good.”

“I have to be honest... I don’t really think the waxings are doing you justice. I mean the woman waxes your eyebrows too thin. You keep going to her and I’ll buy you a pencil so you can draw them in.”

“That’s not funny.”

Charlie smiled and grabbed his car keys from the dining room table.

“I’m off.”

“Would you at least think about the book?”

Charlie sighed. He had in fact dreamt about the book. His name, his face, making history. But what if he didn’t make history? What if there was a Charles Smith in Alaska who could drink him under the table? Then what?

And there was the matter of his liver. And the matter of Sara not knowing about his liver. From what he had learned about matter in high school, it was a particle that had mass and volume. Life matters weren’t as easy to grasp. 

His liver was matter. But it was also a sordid matter.

“Quite honestly, I’m surprised you're still standing,” the doctor had said with a chuckle.

So he really couldn’t do the book right now. When death flashed before his eyes, he had done away with beer. Of course, he loved his addictions so instead he took up with Patty, a real spicy thing. Now he was as dry as dust and as dirty as coal.

Dirty itself took on different meanings with Patty. Just this morning, while taking a shower, he could sense another doctor’s visit in his future.

Charlie picked up his coat and nodded.

“I’ll give it some thought at the bar. In fact, I’ll sleep it off at the bar.”

Sara rolled her eyes.

“Of course you will honey. And I’ll be here painting my nails all night.”

“Sounds like a lovely time,” he said and left.

Sara waited for the headlights to disappear. Then she grabbed her jacket and made for the door.