How Many Bottles

Ace was keeping score
His friends didn’t know it, but he was keeping score

He doesn’t know himself, doesn’t know his loved ones
Doesn’t get to know the world revolving around him when he’s parked
He’s the getaway vehicle to the getaway beach
Left on the street overlooking the ocean and the sun
Distanced from all the joyous commotions
between him and his peers, the embracing warmth of the sand
As Bethany and Brent and Brenda smile and sip in margaritas
He’s the odd fourth wheel in a group of strong personalities
Him, the quiet
Him, the weakest
Him, the one who makes sentimental callbacks to stories
his peers just shrug off and ignore
He’ll be waiting
He’s always waiting
And as he sits, he keeps score

“I don’t recognize myself when I’m sober”
“I don’t recognize that green sun”
His envy, his greed, cloud his judgment
He’s the leftover crust of the pie
The unpopular lackey
The misfit surrounded by cool kids, unwanted by Ferrises

But no more
Ace moves on
He cheers to himself, for himself, by himself
Ace leaves town, never to be heard from again
and in doing so, reinvents himself
but not in the shape of his so-called friends
Not in the form of what his town wanted him to be
But to his new self
He keeps his name with pride
and shame
and guilt
and giddy

Ace’s the animate van who left his passengers to their confusion at the beach
and it’s dark now
and it’s cold now
“No more getaway cars for you by me”
He drives and drives and drives
Old towns and urbanites skillfully mileaged as he’s waking up from that numbing needlestick
Didn’t even realize he had been going everywhere
Because he felt zeroed nowhere
He was nothing anywhere
But no more
And no longer the habituant forlorner counting how many bottles ’til flying
All to suffer aches till unroundly sober

The rave he enjoys is the rave in his mind
His music collection telling his story
not the snowflake you’d expect
but a personal essay into his smiling madness
An inward intimacy acquired only by age
An afterglow so misunderstood but intimately
and ultimately
Thunder heard minutes after the unseen pompousness
that strike the heavens; flashy yet quick to fade

Ace finally moves on
And he’s happy,
But not in the sense of happy they’d understand
He’s happy on his own terms
Terms unpronounced by silver in satchels
Nor covert affairs with strangers
Not beer in loud clubs
But cognacs by the silent bayou

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