Prompt courtesy of Be Kind Rewrite’s Inspiration Mondays.
Joe Beans held the bottle up to the streetlight and saw a last mouthful sloshing around in the bottom. Smiling his toothless grin, he tilted the bottle up and drank it. His purple lips smacked together, contented. He leaned back against the brick wall and looked out at the autumn night.
He saw cars cruise by, crisp leaves crushed beneath their tires, watched men and women struggle through the crowded sidewalks, heads bent down against the late October wind. He heard kids screaming and playing some game, cops and robber most likely, around the corner.
A part of him was jealous of the people in cars, wearing nice shoes, clean clothes and warm coats, rushing from one place to the other. He sometimes missed that feeling of importance he once had, no matter how false it might have been. He tried to tell the men wearing thick tweed jackets and leather gloves pushing through the crowds like prizefighters to the ring.
“There’s more to it, man,” he’d say. “You’ll run yourself out if you keep it up.”
They’d sneer and ignore him, convinced he was some crackpot. Sometimes Joe Beans wondered the same thing. Maybe he should have stuck it out at the factory. He knew he should have made more of an effort to keep his wife happy. Knew he shouldn’t have drank so much and then let the liquor do his thinking. He chewed on his regrets a minute and then spit out to the side. He knew it was no use getting upset over them; he’d just give himself an ulcer.
Joe Beans looked up at the halo of light around the street lamp. He smiled to himself, tucked his old wool blanket tight around his legs and settled in for the night.