After they had left, I started pacing up and down, my head a maelstrom of thoughts. I looked at the bottle that Angel had brought for me; Kentucky Bourbon. I opened the bottle and smiled when the aroma hit my nostrils. I wondered if Percy had suggested that particular drink, knowing it would bring back memories of our Christmas party. I went to the fridge in the faint hope that there might be some ice, but there wasn’t, so I just cleaned a glass on my shirt, and poured myself a drink. I lit another cigarette and sat looking out of the window.
What the girls had said about me “being Tony” somehow kept repeating over and over in my head. How would I recognize who Tony was? For one thing, Tony was a Jag owner, so I went and found my old Jag Owners jacket in 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. I chuckled as the sudden recollection of our attempt to sail to Germany came to mind. Turning over a few more old papers, there was a clipping about the County Fair, and I remembered the first time I got really drunk.
I found a notice from the parish church when Mrs. McKinley had won a cookery prize. I’d forgotten what a great cook she had been, and the wonderful food she made when she came to live with Dad and me. My thoughts naturally turned to her and Dad, and I thought about their marriage, and the aftermath.
I looked through the box and found the Lynn News clipping asking for help in finding me. That brought back memories of Ruby and our own sweet summer of love.
I knew it had to be there, but when I found the wedding announcement for Ruby and me, my world stood still. 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.
There was more; I found the article from when I crashed the car, 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. I found the ad for the Edinburgh house too, a flyer for the Food Truck, and a paper from when Ruby was a student the first time around. There were clippings about the flood, mentioning High Street News, which made me remember High Street Eats. I chuckled at the Good Beer Guide pages I had saved, the Harbor Inn, Fingers, and the Walpole Arms, all very different places that held so many different memories.
I suddenly felt a chill and pulled the jacket around my shoulders. As I did, I felt the notes from Maggie still in the inside pocket and got them out to read. I hadn’t put them in the box in case Ruby found them, but that didn’t seem likely anymore. After I’d read them, I gently placed them in with all my other keepsakes.
So many memories of the things I’d been in my life, and they had all been right at the time. Somehow Julie and Angel’s comments kept coming back to me, I started to think that maybe I had 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 friendship from other people.
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 knew that Angel and Julie just wanted to be good friends. 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 to see me together, or were they just drinking on a Saturday night at the Anchor. I’d forgotten that I really loved 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. When I light another cigarette, I 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 a lot, so I think I’ll go lie down. Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow I’ll shower and change my clothes. Angel can help me clean up this place, and I’ll ask Julie to support me in finding a good dentist.
I’m smiling, even though the pain in my chest is dreadful, it’s so tight I can hardly catch my breath.
But tomorrow I will start Being Tony again.