Leary watched Barrows head snuggle the knotty table top and her eyes flutter until she fell asleep. Amateur, he thought, and finished another shot. Still the arrogance of his gesture didn’t even out last the burning in his throat. Before the waiter refilled his shot glass, he found himself admiring the way in which Ms. Barrows passed out. She really thought she could keep up with the professional alcoholics, just like she thought she could walk into another tropical war zone and keep up with all the veteran journalists. So young and naïve--so American. But wasn’t even Leary ambitious once? There must have been a time. Perhaps in London in thirty nine when he queued for a uniform and boat ride east. Perhaps Leary thought he was smarter now because he was one of the few that managed to survive the boat ride boat back.
The waiter finally filled Leary’s glass. Barrows shifted her head on the table, covering his eyes with an arm. Connie shouted something from the other table, reaching up so his bright shirt lifted to show his hair belly. Sid joined in, one eye crooked behind his thick glasses. Others too, all ready to laugh at the intoxicated Ms. Barrows but Leary waved them away. This wasn’t something to joke about. A young woman passed out passed out in a Honduran rat hole. Innocence tainted by what? Leary’s intoxicating cynicism? Did he not stay drunk on this, the cheapest drink of self proclaimed worldly men? Yes after decades of practice, amid horrible, worldly events, they could drink whisky like water? Just as they could, consume war, famine and disease with no emotion than it took to pen a two hundred words post. But was that really preferable to someone who was still intoxicated by liquor, grand dreams, perhaps life itself?
Leary tipped his glass and yelled for another. He’d drink enough to quench his dark thoughts then stay drunk so they’d never return, but Connie and Sid were still making obscene comments and he wouldn’t let his friend be insulted. Abruptly, and awkwardly he stood up, staggered to the bar, grabbed the phone and made a call. When he staggered back, Connie and Sid were standing up offering to help him with the young woman. He pushed them roughly away. Gently, he raised Ms. Barrows up to her feet. She leaned close, hugging him around the waist, so close he could smell the scent of her bath over the whisky. Leary guided her out the front door onto the dark street and listened for the sound of the diesel engine of the vehicle that would safely carry her home while he planned an entirely different trip in another direction, a direction only a naïve foot or Ms. Barrows would choose.