Last Call – Part I

John Hanover was looking at his glass of bourbon and tonic as if it were the only thing in the world that mattered.  That probably was more truthful than John would have wanted to admit.  In fact, the entire year of 1985 had not been kind to John Hanover. Still feeling the after effects of a nasty divorce, poor evaluations at work and to just even things out, someone stole his 1985 Cadillac DeVille. It had not been a good year. But, he remembered, 1982 make this one pale in comparison. He took the last drink from that bourbon and tonic when the bartender yelled, “Last Call.” John raised his glass and the bartender nodded.  “Any chance I can get that in a go cup to take to my room?” John asked the rotund hotel bartender.  “Sure pal.  Just make sure you go straight to your room.  Hotel policy is that you aren’t supposed to take drinks from the bar.  But, with all the shit I’ve had to deal with this week, I’m in a don’t-give-a-damn mood tonight,” replied the bartender.  John chuckled at the bartender, took the bourbon and tonic, no ice, straight to the elevator and on to his 18th-floor room at the luxurious Hotel in Las Vegas.

It had been another rough day in the life of John Hanover.   He had failed in another attempt to get the Ridley account for his advertising agency for whom he had worked the past 16 years.  The Ridley account was the difference between his being employed or unemployed.  His manager had told him this was his last chance.  It might have helped if John Hanover had been stone cold sober at the 4 PM meeting with the Ridley people.  He swore he would only have one bourbon and tonic at 3 PM to just “take the edge off his nerves.”  But, with John Hanover, one drink is never enough. One drink always led to another and then another.  And, here he was, taking that all too familiar “last call” at the bar and quite possibly the end of his career as an account rep for Gansen Advertising.  This was the end of the road for John.  He needed that account.  But, he would return to Phoenix, AZ empty handed…again.  Might as well wait until in the morning to give that asshole of a manager the bad news, John thought.  I just need some rest and then maybe look for another job.  Yeah, that’s it, just a little R&R to recharge my batteries, John mused.  He was good as fired as soon as he returned to Phoenix and he knew it.

John staggered down to room 1822 from the elevator, but not before he again ran into difficulty.  He swiped the card into the reader and his door would not open.   Again and again, he swiped the card until he kicked the door.  Luckily, an attendant heard the commotion and opened the door for him.  Barely making it into the room standing, he collapsed on his bed.  John got up, went to the bathroom to relieve himself and sat back on his bed.  How many hotel rooms had he been in like this one over the past 16 years?  How many different bars, how many different cities had he been in over the past decade and a half?  How many “last calls” had John made over his entire adult life?  One too many, in fact.  One last call that, perhaps, could have changed his life had he just left before it got that late.

It was a Wednesday night just three years ago that John’s life went from bad to worse.  His wife, Linda, had already threatened him with divorce over his drinking.  But, John Hanover really never listened to her threats.  He made her a good living there in Phoenix.  An $850K home with all the amenities one could ask for in that lifestyle just three years ago.  A swimming pool, glass sunroom with sauna and bar.  And, John and Linda were active in the community social life at the clubhouse just a tennis court away from their home.   Life was good for the Hanovers and their 7-year old son, Danny.  Danny was the glue that really held their marriage together.  Both John and Linda kept their marriage intact strictly because of him.  Despite working 12-14 hour days during the week, John always found time for Danny.  He was the reason he got up every morning, the reason he always came home with a smile on his face.  But, on that one particular Wednesday night, John once again stayed at closing time at Justine’s Nightclub with his friends, and took that “last call.”  Sure, there had been three calls from Linda that he refused to take that Wednesday night three years back.  John knew the drill;  she called him up to cuss him out and he would go back to the bar for more drinking.  But, not this night.  No, not that night.  That night John Hanover was going to ignore his nagging wife.  Life was just too short.  Hell, maybe he should just go ahead and give her that divorce that she wanted.  If not for Danny, he would have obliged her.

So, John left his friends, after partaking that last call at Justine’s, and headed home.  John had no fear of getting pulled over.  He was one of those few who could honestly drive as well drunk as he was sober.  That was an odd but true fact.  John prided himself on that.  That’s why he never considered his drinking as a problem.  The problem was Linda.  She just didn’t understand him.  He was thinking about that as he turned into his neighborhood, past the security iron gates that opened by waving his magnetized card over the reader.  He saw blue and red lights rotating close to where his house was located.  That got him even more sober…quickly.  John thought it was the Charleston’s having another knockdown, drag out fight.  It was for this reason John voted with the community board to have them thrown out.  Like everyone else, he was sick of the police showing up in their fine neighborhood.

But, as John Hanover turned down Saint Vassar Drive, he saw the police and paramedics were at his house.  Stunned, and with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, John stopped his car and ran past the yellow police tape, past the two policemen trying to stop him.  John Hanover ran right up to his front door, just in time to see paramedics bringing out a small figure on a stretcher…with white sheets covering from head to toe.


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