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The Prodigal Love of Nancy

Much can change in a day, in just the passing of the sun. 

Yesterday I walked these streets elated, burdened only by the weight of my pocket whose seams had been stretched by the love of my parents. Again.

I had stood before them bright-eyed, clean shaven and smartly dressed; the perfect appearance of contrition. And I walked from their door a richer man, in both spirit and in pocket.

My sparrow-mind flitted upon all the owes I owed: rent to the landlord, loans from friends, bad bets and my bar tab at O'Reilly's.  

Debts are best paid by cheque when money is safely stored away, my father says, and I tripped and traipsed along Langan Street with the full intention of depositing my parent’s loving care in the National Bank on the corner. 

But the road to hell is paved with the cobbles of Langan Street. 

I only went into O'Reilly's to pay my tab. 

It made sense to me at the time, for I was passing that way.

But I had barely broken the threshold when I caught her scent. Sweet and dangerous. 

She was here. 

My Nancy. 

I don’t think I saw her as I trod the bar floor, my feet dancing to the creaks of the wood. My elbows had scarcely rested upon the counter when her flash of auburn sat down beside me. She had been waiting for me. 

She always was. 

I’ll admit I smiled. She smiled back, I think. 

The people faded behind her, the room grew quiet. At least to my ears it did. I had missed her, longed for her. 

It’s many a year I’ve loved her, through all the turmoil and trouble, all the pain and punishment, all the hurt and heartbreak. 

I’ve cursed her, I’ve damned her, I’ve spat and I’ve snared. More times than I dare recall I’ve shown her the door and warned her never to come back. 

My mother said she would be the ruin of me and I knew it to be true. 

But with a flash and a smile, my heart was beguiled and I was hers once more. 

I always am. 

She just sat there, smiling, inviting me closer. 

I won’t be lured onto her rocks this time, I told myself as I leaned in. 

I kissed her.

The violent clash of her engulfed me; her stormy torrents lashed me to the mast; she had me as her prisoner once more with that first kiss. 

I did not fight, for I did not care. 

The old familiar taste of her warmed me and I drank her in more. 

Repressed feelings surged and broke through, washing over me in a cold sweat. 

The more I kissed her, the more I loved her. And the more I loved her, the more she smiled. 

My father’s heeding and warnings were forgotten as I looked upon her, my mother’s tears only whetted our kiss. My mind was lost in her copper sea. 

I did not think, for I did not care. 

We sat long together, her and I, until the evening swell had surrounded Langan Street with armaments of shadow and gloom. 

My pocket steadily emptied as the street lights, standing to attention, took aim and fired, cannoning the air with light as the battle of night began. 

Somewhere a bell rang for last orders and, longingly, I looked at her. I wanted her, more of her, all of her. I had to have her. 

She took me home. Or I took her home. I cannot be sure of which, or who led who, but we leaned on each other, walking the cobbled streets to damnation. 

A truce had fallen on the street, the light awaiting the cavalry charge of the dawn.

The night air droned with the sound of distant cars. The people we met patted me warmly on the shoulder and I smiled my delight. 

Enraptured, we struggled to open my apartment door. Her hands were my hands as we fumbled with the keys, our eyes upon each other, blurred and out of focus. 

I carried her in my arms to my room and held her body tightly. Her scent was my vision. She was all I could see. 

And as the night closed in around us, so too did my mind.

* * * * *

The late sun revealed the remnants of our destructive entanglement, all strewn around the room. 

The darkness of the night had retreated into my mind and soul.

I tried to rise but my Nancy pulled me by the heel to the memory of her bosom and there I laid my pounding head, my stomach churning.

How I wished to never rise. 

Not for comfort, but for shame. The cold beams of early afternoon prickled my skin, goosebumps rising with the swell of nausea, for in the naked light I saw her once again for what she was. Her body was cold to me now, her dank kisses imprinted me with regret, her smile now a scowl.  

She had lured me onto her rocks and devoured me. Again. 

She had whistled her siren song and I had thrown myself into her sea, only to be washed up onto this frigid bed, ashamed and alone. 

My dry mouth choked me; a cruel mockery of the night before. I could not raise my head.

Nancy Whiskey had ruined me again. 

* * * * *

And so, here I stand before the door of my parents. Again.

The day has changed but my clothes have not. 

My owes are still owed and my pockets are bare. 

My stubble is sharp and cutting. My eyes are heavy and pitiful. 

I reek of day-old shame and fresh remorse. 

This worn out confession they have heard many’s the time before but as sincere as ever I’ll be. 

For this will be the last time I ask them to pardon their prodigal son. 

And if they forgive me as many the time before, then I never shall drink Nancy Whiskey no more. 

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