Let Him Drink
by Zane Castillo
Ramon had his first drink when he was seven and never looked back. He spent every chance that he could to steal a beer from his dad’s stash in the fridge. His father would blame his mother for that missing drink that he desperately needed after work. Ramon would feel guilty watching his father yell at his mother, but a few days later he would be right back at it again.
During his high school years, he used a fake I.D. at liquor stores and if it didn’t work he would steal it. By the time he turned 21, he was drinking heavily, which concerned his mother who felt that he was following in his father’s footsteps. On the other hand, his father didn’t care and yelled at his wife to stop picking on Ramon. “Let him drink,” he would say to his frustrated wife.
Ramon started having a difficult time staying sober and a lot of his experiences was while he was drunk. He lost his virginity to a girl while he was intoxicated and could barely remember the act. He managed to complete high school and showed up to his graduation drunk. His mother sat sullen in silence during the memorable event and watched as her husband and son drunkenly toasted to his future. Both father and son could barely walk by the end of the night and she drove them home in a low spirit.
After graduation, Ramon found work as a gas station attendant, but was fired after drinking and falling asleep on the job. He then got a job helping a construction crew cleaning up buildings. He drank whenever he could sneak it and somehow was able to do a good enough job where he was hired on for another job. There were several guys on the crew who were heavy drinkers as well and Ramon quickly came into their fold. After work they would spend their money at bars and on any woman that gave them the time of day.
Ramon would wake up many mornings in the home of a woman, who he didn’t even remember going home with. When he would go to work after such a night, the guys would jokingly give him a hard time over his appearance and hungover state.
After a year on the job, he managed to cobble enough money to rent a place with a couple of the guys. They moved into a small three bedroom apartment where beer and liquor bottles piled up in on a daily basis. Ramon’s mother was worried about his living with other drunks and wanted to stop by to see his place, but Ramon continuously made excuses.
One night after work, Ramon met Janelle at a bar that he frequented with the guys. She was a few years younger than him with a gold tooth that he couldn’t resist. They drank and danced to the loud music, until Janelle asked Ramon to come home with her. He happily agreed as he swayed on his feet.
They both got into Janelle’s car and she got behind the wheel. She drove rapidly on the streets; going through red lights and stop signs. She went through an intersection and a car came into her path. She swerved the vehicle and it crashed into a pole. Janelle was thrown through the windshield, whereas Ramon’s legs were crushed from the impact and his torso pushed into the dashboard.
Ramon woke up in the hospital to see his mother and sober-faced dad at his bedside. Noticing that Ramon was awake, his mother went to him sobbing. “My poor baby,” she kept muttering over and over. Ramon looked at himself and saw that both of his legs had been amputated. He glanced at his father who could only stare back at his son.
Ramon returned home in a wheelchair. His mother took care of him as his father sat on the couch all day drinking. A few months passed with Ramon becoming accustomed to his new life. He received a monthly disability check that helped to cover his needs. He went a few days without drinking, as his mother stood constant vigilance over him. He desperately needed a drink and planned for the right opportunity to get one.
One day, Ramon wheeled himself into the kitchen and opened the fridge. He saw a six-pack of beer and he grabbed one. He popped the top off just as his mother walked into the kitchen. She watched him in agitation.
“Ramon what are you doing?” she sternly asked him. Ramon didn’t answer.
She asked him again, but this time in a loud voice. Ramon held the drink in his hand and did not answer.
“What’s going on in there?” His father yelled from the couch.
“Ramon is trying to drink a beer. He knows he can’t have one with his medication,” she called back.
She looked at Ramon with an unhappy expression on her face, as he held the cold bottle in his hand. Ramon does not look at her, but sits frozen in his wheelchair.
“Would you leave him alone? Let him drink,” his father yells back. Ramon finally moves as he wheels himself out of the kitchen.
He takes a long drink from the bottle and feels his mother’s eyes on him as leaves. His father watches Ramon go by, before returning to the television screen. Ramon could hear his mother quietly crying in the kitchen as he takes another swig.