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After they had left, I was alternatively tearful and furious. I looked at the bottle that Angel had brought for me; Kentucky Bourbon. I considered throwing it out but then thought again, opened the bottle and smiled when the aroma hit my nostrils. I went to the fridge in the faint hope that there might be some ice that I’d forgotten about, but there wasn’t, so I just whipped a glass clean on my shirt, and poured myself a drink. I stopped pacing the room, lit another cigarette and sat at the window, drinking, smoking and thinking.
What they had said about me “being Tony” somehow repeated over and over in my head. The thought of my Jag Owners jacket, the one that Maggie had paid for, came to me, and I went to get it from the wardrobe. As I pulled it out, I noticed my box of clippings, so I picked that up as well and brought them both to the window seat. Opening the box, the memories came flooding back.
There, faded and discolored, but still readable was the birth announcement for my brother, and I chuckled at the sudden recollection of our attempt to sail to Germany. Turning over a few more old papers, I found the notice from the parish church when Mrs. McKinley had won a cookery prize. I’d forgotten what a great cook she was, and the great food she made when she came to live with us. So my thoughts turned to her and Dad, and remembered their marriage, and my running away. There was a Lynn News clipping, asking for help in finding me. That brought back memories of Ruby and our own sweet summer of love.
I found the article from when I crashed the car, and then my heart almost stopped when I found the wedding announcement for Ruby and me. I just held that in my hand for a long time, trying to bring back that brief time in my life when I’d been happy and felt fulfilled.
But there were more; the ad for our house in Sandringham, well, two of them, actually, one when we bought it, and then a few years later when we moved to Edinburgh. And here was a flyer for the Food Truck, a paper from when Ruby was a student and something about the flood, mentioning High Street News, which made me remember High Street Eats. I even had some pages that I must have torn out of guide books. Of course, yes, the Good Beer Guide that I started buying when I was at the Walpole Arms. I shivered a bit and put the jacket on my shoulders. As I did, I felt the notes from Maggie still in the inside pocket and got them out to read.
All these memories of the things I’d been in my life, and they had all been right at the time. Somehow Angel’s comments kept coming back to me, I think I’d forgotten how to be Tony. I was always the one looking at the bright side, looking for the positive. I’d always been a friend, and now it seemed I needed to accept others friendship and help.
I noticed that my right arm had begun to shake. It sometimes did nowadays, but this time, it was really noticeable, and on top of that I was getting a severe case of heartburn.
I started to think about what Angel and Jenny had said. I knew that they were good friends, and probably the fact that they were gay helped me accept them more, I didn’t feel like I needed to impress them, or wonder if I could get them into bed with me. I wondered if they were partners now, was that why they came together, or if they were just drinking on a Saturday night at the Anchor. I’d forgotten that I really love the atmosphere in the pub, the fun and loose talk, the joking and the story telling.
Wow, this heartburn is really painful, and I’m clearly not used to the bourbon because I’m starting to feel a bit sick too. I light another cigarette, but can’t seem to get enough breath to enjoy it, so stub it out half finished.
I need to think more about this “being Tony” thing, but for now, I’m getting quite dizzy, and am shaking quite a lot, so I think I’ll go lie down. Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow I’ll shower, change my clothes, Angel can help me clean up this place, and I’ll ask Jenny to help me find a dentist.
I’m smiling, even though the pain in my chest is dreadful right now, it’s so tight, and I can hardly catch my breath.
But tomorrow I will start Being Tony again.