No one wanted to talk to him anymore. He’d drink too much, talk too much, yell too much. It was a quick change. People claimed they could tell if he had just one drink by the first word he’d say over the phone. They were right most of the time, but he’d never admit it.
“No, I just got home,” he’d lie. “I haven’t even had time to take off my jacket.”
He said the same thing to a highway patrolman on the side of the road once.
He didn’t like himself sober, so he’d drink. He’d sober up and be embarrassed about what he did when he was drunk. End up drinking again to forget about it. Eventually it became harder to separate his two lives. The real problem was that he was a functional alcoholic. He could still work. He could still fake it. He could still make it to family holidays. But they’d end up wishing they never invited him.
Then he had a kid. No one cared if he could fake it anymore. Some people hoped the kid would set him straight. Start doing everything right. Things never work out that way. People are the way they are and most of it’s genetic. Not even his fault. Not his father’s fault. On and on for generations back probably. But he wasn’t a bad person. He was smart. He read everything. Knew everything. He was smart enough to do anything. But not smart enough to quit drinking.
One day he thought he could fake it picking his kid up from daycare. The lady called the cops. Probably saved the kid’s life. Ruined the father’s.
He just got home. He didn’t even have time to take off his jacket.