He wanted so goddamn bad to pick up the glass and drink. Drink the whole thing, pour himself another shot -- hell, three, maybe five -- and keep his grip on the edge of the counter until he was sure it had hit.

The rum almost looked like glass itself. Dark amber, and he was pretty sure the label copy had something to say that would make it sound poetic. Something other than 'this shit is strong enough to knock you on your ass.' But it was, and that was why he'd hauled this particular bottle out from the cabinet, out from behind the half a dozen bottles of gin and vodka and scotch that he kept for company and show. Open, most of them, but by himself it took him nearly a year to kill a single bottle.

When he got drunk, he preferred to go with beer. Safe, common, and it was a lot easier to stop when he'd had enough. With rum, he could never be sure how many it would take. With rum, sometimes he'd land on his face before he got through the living room. Sometimes he'd end up in bed, singing.

His hand clenched and he kept staring at the glass. Just do it, he told himself. Do it already and get it the fuck over with. Drink one and tell yourself you'll stop.

Drink five and tell yourself it's all the fault of the rum. Whatever you do after, anything that happens tonight will clearly be the alcohol.

Never mind that nobody was holding a gun to his head to force him to drink. Never mind that the only reason he wanted to drink this was so he would have an excuse for the next.

He turned his head away from the glass and caught sight of the phone.

What if he went over and dialed, anyway, stone cold sober and totally responsible?

He took a sharp breath and let his head fall. Found himself gripping the edge of the counter even tighter as though his hands knew if he let go he would walk over there and call, and he would have no one to blame but himself.

He reached out quickly and picked up the glass, slammed back the rum in one swallow. Grabbed the bottle and poured two fingers more, slammed back as much as he could and turned very deliberately away from the phone and walked stiffly into the living room. The drinks cabinet door was still open; he took it as a cue and put back the bottle of rum. Slid it carefully past the other bottles into its place in the back.

He closed the door and turned, sipping at his drink.

Sat down on the couch and thought maybe....

He swallowed the last of his rum and put the glass on the floor. There was no phone in the living room. As long as he didn't move again, he would be safe.