I want to tell you about my buddy Reggie. Let’s see; how can I put this? Reggie is the clumsiest, most accident prone, stumbling, bumbling, inept, two left footed, bull-in-a-china-closet human being ever to walk this blessed earth.
So help me God I do not fucking exaggerate.
I once saw this man accidentally stick a knife blade under his thumbnail trying to peel an apple, and while he was squawkin’ and jumping around he managed to slip one of his belt loops over the knob of a chair and bring all of it down with him – the chair, the apple, a plate, and some other odds and ends – all of it down to the floor in an explosion of cussing and clattering and shattering that scared my dog so badly he took a shit right on the spot.
And that was on a regular old Tuesday. You should see him on the weekends.
The preacher was in town last week. Reggie and me both like the preacher a lot. We don’t understand him, but there’s something about him. Hard to explain. Anyway, I invited both of them over to the house to knock back a few drinks and just hang out, as the kids say nowadays.
The preacher, he always shows up with whiskey. That’s just his way. And I sure as hell ain’t gonna argue with that. This time he showed up with a bottle of Redemption Rye. Do you know this whiskey? It ain’t the fanciest rye in the world, but I like it. And it’s only 25 bucks, so there’s that, which is nice.
This rye is spicy as hell. It just screams rye when you smell it. See Redemption is a proud rye whiskey. It ain’t trying to slip by pretending to be half bourbon. No sir. 95% rye in the mash bill. Look it up.
“I’m a goddam rye and fuck you if you don’t like it.”
And I respect that. I surely do.
My first sip was sour. Really sour and harsh. Intense. I don’t mind that. Hell I like it. The second sip calmed down a bit. Still harsh but not so much. That’s all I can say. My tongue is all beat to hell by now and I can’t pick out all the tasting notes like the fancy boys do. But I really like what happens when you swallow it. All that intensity kind of bunches up at the back of your tongue, like kids scared to go down a slide. Then it goes over the edge and down your gullet with a nice little snap and crackle.
There’s not much boosh at the end, but that’s okay. Redemption does all its fighting up front when it walks in the door. Then it gets friendly as the evening goes on.
So the three of us started drinking Redemption Rye in the kitchen and ended up some time later by the fireplace. I don’t remember exactly how that happened. But we left the bottle back in the kitchen.
Now the preacher is a philosophical man, and he likes to talk, especially when he’s been drinking. He’s one of those that sounds fancier the more he drinks. On this night he was wound up and talking about how yea and verily whiskey has been transmogrified (His word not mine) and become the communion element for this lost and forsaken generation. Bunch a shit like that.
He came to a pause and decided he wanted some more of that whiskey. Reggie jumped up and ran to the kitchen to fetch the bottle. I noticed he was a little wobbly. He came back around the corner with the bottle in his hand, shouting some kinda nonsense like, “I got it, boys. I’m comin’.”
About that time my dog walked right in front of Reggie and sat down.
The preacher was watching this while he was talking. As it was unfolding he slowed down and his fancy talk transmogrified (my word this time) into something a little more simple:
See the thing about Reggie is this: you can’t yell out a warning because then he panics. So all you can do is hold your breath and hope he finds his way through the impending disaster.
He bumped into my dog and got a little discombobulated. Then the bottle started slipping. He tried to catch it, bumped it back and forth between his hands for a second, and finally knocked it straight up in the air. The preacher and me had our mouths open, watching that bottle go up, reach the apex of its accursed parabola, then start back down again.
Then a miracle happened. A got damn bonafide miracle. Reggie shot out his hand and snatched that bottle right out of the air, Kung Fu style.
Things were real quiet for a moment or two. Then the preacher said, “Jesus, Reggie. You caught it.”
Reggie stared at the bottle, as surprised as any of us.
“Shit yeah I caught it,” he said, like he catches things every damn day.
Then he took a step forward and I saw his foot was heading right for the dog again. I cringed, but he stepped over the dog and wobbled the rest of the way without incident. I grabbed the bottle from him. Two fuckin’ miracles is more than enough for one night.
We raised our glasses and the preacher offered a little benediction to the evening:
“Dear brothers, our esteemed friend obviously met the Buddha on the way here tonight. And, as was advised by the most ancient of the masters, he slew that sonuvabitch right on the spot.”
I looked at Reggie and mouthed, “What the fuck?”
The preacher went on. “Cause our boy got enlightenment. Snatchin’ bottles out of the air like a master of secret wisdom. If that’s not Zen as fuck, I don’t know what it is.”
After that there didn’t seem to be much else to say. But when we were done that bottle was upside down on the coffee table. We killed it. Killed it good.
The preacher called one of those Ubers for him and Reggie and they headed for the door. The preacher paused in the doorframe, and in that liminal moment, he gave us one last word.
“Reggie, my friend, I believe tonight you finally found your redemption. We all needed a little redemption tonight, boys, every man jack of us.”
And then they were gone. The preacher and Reggie. Holy fuckin’ hell, am I right?
And I say amen to that. A-fuckin-men.