This morning I am paying my bills; writing insurance checks; health insurance, auto, and real estate; one for a police fund, and another for St. John’s Church. These days I’m not looking for surprises, in my here and now, or in the hereafter.

My perfect childhood had flown by largely unappreciated. Fourteen sunny-summers had passed, and all at once I was fifteen, and everything I wanted was just outside my grasp. Suddenly my life wasn’t so well considered, and it wasn’t safe. I desperately needed something to happen. Anything. It didn’t have to be happy, but it had to happen now.

I met Budweiser when I was seventeen. Budweiser was the King of Beers. The charlatan King hinted at various adventures, and whispered about mischief yet to come, and we stepped-out-staggering, trusting to caprice and big-time stupid; I bought an entire six-pack of possibilities and my world became a wonderland.

Then little-by-slowly, the magic went bad. Something went missing sometime between the spring of ’62, and the summer of ’75 − I’d sold my soul for a glass of beer. − Darnedest thing …. Must have disappeared in some dark honky-tonk. It may have paid for a short draft − a 15-cent sip at Eric’s in Brooklyn, or a pricey brown bottle in DC’s Cellar Door; misplaced, left on a checkered tablecloth, and taken with the tip.

Eventually, me and the King parted ways, and I soon found my soul in a dead-end hock-shop. I manage to keep up with my minimum monthly payments. King Bud still sends postcards without return addresses. I must admit: I’ve come away scathed and well decorated with bright little keloid scars. Some still sting. Others have blossomed into sweet reminiscences: tales to be told; some to be painted, and others to be penned.