There’s a Bottle and There’s a Man – January 30, 2005

The other day I was on the bus, heading for work. This old gent across from me, a gray overcoat, soft and worn greasy at the elbows, head down and hunched like he could still feel the chill of the winter on the bus.He pulled the bell cord, needing to get off. I was sitting by the middle door. He stood up to head for the door and a bottle fell out of his coat pocket. A cheap vodka, a pint my dad used to call it, or a mickey as my grandparents called it. It was partially drained. He’d obviously been tippling.

Shame radiated from every pore, as he bent with slow arthritic strain to retrieve the bottle. He looked at me then, with the saddest of eyes. “Shit happens,” he said with a shrug.

I could tell he was terribly embarrassed. As low as he had sunk, the man still hung onto his shredded dignity. The people on the bus were alternating between sneers and horror. Some just simply looked away.

I looked up at him and said, “Cold day, isn’t it?”.

For a time we sat and talked.

My stop arrived.

I stepped off of the bus, skidding a little as I hit the frozen sidewalk.

It’s scary to think how easy it can happen to any of us. A bad day, a certain blow, one too many failures, and you reach for something comfortable. People fall through the cracks, as easily as falling on the ice.

There’s a bottle, and a dirty coat, but there’s a man there, as well.

* * *

I’m very excited today. Just completed my first assignment for Really Scary.
A book review of Raw Dog Screaming Press’s 15 SERIAL KILLERS, by Harold Jaffe. You can check it out at

That’s all for today.

Yours in horror,

Steve Vernon


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