He lay in the dark listening to the sound of her snoring. He counted to twenty in his head before he slid off the bed and tiptoed to the door. The rhythm of her gusty bellows remained unchanged, so he crept out and made his way downstairs.
As he hobbled down the steps he couldn’t help smiling at himself. Henry Earl Henshaw, former governor, two time senator,former Nigerian ambassador to Canada etc etc, now a late middle aged man, dying of diabetes, banned from eating anything, drinking anything….
This was his longest attempt at staying clean. Magdalene had rid the house of every single bottle of rum, brandy and vodka he owned. He could still hear the screams and shouts of his nephews as they carted everything out amidst lavish thanks. Gosh, how he hated them. Fools, blind in the vanity of their youth, deaf to old age or illness, running off to find the next high, the next skirt to hit.
A spasm of pain raced through his belly and he stifled a scream. No use waking Maggi now, he was almost there. There was one place they hadn’t looked when they were looting his bottles–his library. There he had a three quarter full bottle of Le Valier brandy waiting. Two shots and he would be fine, the pain would pass and he would feel free again.
He limped past the fridge and found himself opening it. It was filled with the usual things: bread, oranges, cough syrup, water and chocolate cake. He loved chocolate cake and he hadn’t tasted any in six months. He pinched a bit of it and savoured the taste then cut a slice and shut the fridge as quietly as he could.
He spun around to find Maggi glaring at him. Her full figure was still lovely at 49, the pink silk net on her hair gave her the air of a fairy godmother, the anger in her eyes singed his soul.
“Please Maggi, just a little, just a piece.”
“I’m sorry, Henry, but no. The doctors said you can’t. We are still awaiting your test results. Please, let’s go upstairs.”
So he let her lead him back upstairs to the bed. And he kept savouring the memory of the cake and imagining the taste of his Le Valier until sleep came and with it dreams of being 29 again and conquering bottles, cakes and babes with no thought for the morrow.