The Web Poetry Corner - James Bredin - The Alcoholic
Fred Fogerty was a friend of mine when we used to drink a lot,
But he was never showed that he was drunk and never was distraught
And friends of Fred all thought that Fred was such a decent fellow.
He was handsome hale and hardy and always kind and mellow.
Even at a party where all his pals got drunk,
Fred could handle hockey or football but behaved like a monk.
He would even drive them home ‘cause it was obvious he was sober,
But I knew Fred’s secret; he’d been drunk since last October.
Fred’s Mrs, Marguerite, knew that love was sometimes blind,
What if Fred had a drink or two? so did all mankind!
She loved that Fred no matter what and knew she always would
Though she knew Fred had a problem and she knew just where she stood.
‘cause Fred stood first in line at the liquor store each day
And a quart or two of whiskey he would secretly stash away,
He had several spots in the cemetery and more down by the park
To hide a crock or two or three and come back after dark,
He always had a reason to be out and around;
A small insignificant reason - nothing too profound,
He’d go for cigarettes and often walk the dog,
It didn’t faze Fred Fogerty - sunshine, rain or fog.
And when he came close to his stash, he’d always look about,
He was casual and cautious ‘cause he did it day in day out,
And if an innocent person he happened to discern
He’d saunter to his other stash and never show concern.
He also stashed a crock or two inside the trunk of his car,
And when he went to work each day, that trunk became a bar,
He’d slip out the factory door for some insignificant reason,
The coffee truck or a cigarette; it didn’t matter the season.
He’d open his trunk, unscrew the cap and raise a bag on high
And quickly down an ounce or three of loganberry rye,
Then back inside before they knew that he’d been an absentee,
Because he had to watch himself with that new boss, Marie.
She was young but she was ugly and probably a dyke,
And acted like someone who ruled back in the Third Reich.
She loved to be a boss and almost caught him once or twice,
Smelt liquor on his breath she said which wasn’t very nice.
And Fred attended meetings of alcohol anonymous,
He went through the motions; he would never be autonomous.
He listened to their stories ‘bout their problems with the booze,
Even gave an account or two ‘bout his own alcohol abuse.
It was a sickness and he knew it; all he needed was to cure it
And a shot or two of whiskey in order to ensure it -
stayed away -- the blues that wanted to consume him,
Depression that could entomb him -- had to be kept at bay.
But one day Fred lost the lever and crashed the forklift truck,
And Marie the new boss acted like she had become unstuck.
She sent him to the office where the manager sent him home.
Joe knew that he’d been caught and admitted he was stoned.
Then they sent him a letter that mentioned "alcohol dependent",
He would have to cure it and control it to be independent,
He needed medication in order to be rehired.
Otherwise the letter said, he could_ "consider himself_" "retired"
The shock of being retired, Fred could handle in his stride,
Because a shot or two of whiskey could bolster up his pride.
So the doctor took some blood and sent it to be analyzed,
Fred was obviously sober; why should he be penalized?
Fred had to have this filthy job to feed his wife and his kid,
Not to mention that crock or two of whiskey god forbid,
And running out of money to pay for his booze,
Could bring on deep depression -- the depth of the blues.
The analyst’s report showed that Fred was far from sober,
And cirrhosis of the liver had advanced since last October,
And Fred should be in hospital because he was so sick,
Fred couldn’t understand it - it must someone’s trick.
How could he be sick, he asked, he had never felt a pain,
"And this sickness is serious," the doctor sought to explain,
"You’ll have to quit drinking and your liver should survive.
And then instead of dying, you can work from nine to five."
"I’ve already made arrangements. Go to hospital right away.
It’s vital that your go there and don’t wait another day."
Fred waked in shock, deep in thought, as he got out to the street,
He’d have to keep this secret; couldn’t dare tell Marguerite.
He raised a paper bag in the back parking lot,
And downed three shots right away ‘cause he was distraught.
Death couldn’t be so bad he thought if there was no pain,
He’d keep this secret to himself or they’d think he was insane.
Fred Fogerty was a friend of mine and he died just the other day,
Because the doctor’s orders, he never could obey,
He drank himself to death they said, which I’m still trying to explain,
How could the booze get such a grip on Fred Fogerty’s brain?