“My name is John,” he said, “and I’m an alcoholic.”

The scrubby man let the response wash over him. There was something about having a group of strangers in the palm of his hand that excited him more than anything in the world. He would never say that he was addicted to the sensation, but he knew that there was a fetishistic element to the feeling that it gave him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it.

He got the idea from Fight Club. The idea of being a support group tourist had intrigued him, and not for the reasons that the characters in the film did it. Sure, the occasional captive audience was a plus, but it was more the sense of belonging that he got, as though he was the member of an exclusive club or fraternity, and that he had managed to gain access by simply walking through the open doors of a community center’s meeting room one hot summer’s afternoon, without the prerequisite disease, tickled him to no end.

He fingered the six-month chip in his pocket as he launched into his talk for the day. He liked the talismans a lot and brought them out whenever he felt the need for a little extra sympathy. He always kept the one-day chip somewhere on his person, as it drew the most potent responses from people. He had gotten more than his fair share of free coffees and minor discounts by flourishing it along with a sheepish grin. The occasional free embrace from a stranger was just an added bonus. He wondered how effective his scheme would be in a smaller city or town, and even with the size of Celondria West being what it was he was bound to run into someone who would remember how sober he was supposed to be, and the jig would be up.

It never ceased to amaze him how he ended up living with that splinter of a lie embedded in his character. It was even more surprising when he took into account the fact that he had never had a drop to drink in his entire life.

2023.08.19 – 2023.12.31

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