Maverick Winspear, disregarded the quantity of alcohol he had consumed for the entirety of the day. I am a star musician. I could stop my drinking if I wanted to! If only they understood in every possible way the pressure and adversity I face. His thought patterns were oblivious to how serious his drinking truly was. He remembered in a vivid way, tearing apart a solemn vow to change one after another to those that love and support him most.
As a middle-aged blues musician and divorced man known to abuse hard spirits and frequent old-fashioned bars, he did not care for his unforgivable behavior and actions, because he knew them all too well. It had become normalized and accepted by way of his musician lifestyle. His alcohol abuse seemed to make all his troubles disappear, a tormented spirit searching for a way out of suffering, even if it meant hurting thyself. Maverick’s musical ensemble and travelling comradery, Natalie, and David Moore, were anticipating an encore from their tried-and-true fans.
At the corner of his honey-golden eye, he glanced at the two siblings as they both psyched themselves up to ensure their own composure and success on stage. Although, Maverick would never participate with his bandmates and their rituals, he insisted on having another shot of Courvoisier before starting out on stage again. It was his way in priming himself for the remainder of their gig. With a keen, observant eye, he twisted the cap off the glass bottle of Courvoisier and got a whiff of the enticing alcohol bliss.
The scent of Cognac gave off the impression of a cold, wintry breeze, as though he breathed in the air of a winter sky. Then, he placed his lips on the glassed opening for one last taste before going back out on stage to perform with Natalie and David Moore. With every passing second ticking on by of the backstage clock, he felt more elated and besotted. His blood alcohol level climbing higher with every passage of time. Beads of lukewarm sweat trickled down his forehead, cheeks, and neck. He reached for the inside pocket of his black-wash denim jacket and pulled out a quaint beige handkerchief to wipe off his alcohol induced perspiration.
“It is ten past nine! Time is up! Three more songs! Play and sing your hearts out!” Paul Cooper, Remedial Life, Band Management and Producer, shouted in an enthusiastic way.
Maverick picked up his long-time companion, an acoustic guitar and started out having not spoken a single word. Despite his silence, he was relieved to have another drink, even if it was for a single moment or two.
“David, he is going to ruin our lives if he doesn’t get clean. Look at him, pitiful!” Natalie Moore said.
“The longevity of this band won’t last forever.” Natalie glared at her brother, David. Insinuating the inevitable fate of the band if Maverick does not stop drinking and fueling his addictive ways.
“I agree. It is unfortunate Paul does not seem to mind his drinking at all. He treats Maverick as if he were just an adolescent. Now, we need to get out there and finish what we came here for, Natalie. It is the homestretch.” David replied.
The band’s trio were welcomed back on stage as the crowd began to clap and shout at the top of their lungs. The rhythm and blues loving audience began to cheer even harder as a spotlight shone on Maverick, Remedial Life’s guitarist and singer. He equipped his acoustic guitar with a capo on the second fret. Then, he plugged in the amplifier cable into the input jack of his guitar. Finally, he struck a single chord to determine whether his guitar remained in tuning.
“I am trying to be a great frontman, but I am terrible at it.” Maverick said. His voice was hoarse in ordinary speech. “I don’t want anyone to think or believe I have a problem, but I am going to get drunk tonight! Is that all right?!”
Natalie leered at Maverick menacingly, as he carried on with his antics. Before their band can resume playing, Paul Cooper startled Maverick as he appeared out of no where.
“What now, Paul?” Maverick asked with a confused look on his face.
Paul brought him a little shot glass that was filled to the rim. Maverick did not hesitate and thought he may even impress his fans that were in the front row as they had a clearer, intimate view of what was happening. He reached for the glass and gulped it all down with a sour faced look that rang disgust.
“That’s it! No more!” Maverick shouted in Paul’s ear away from the microphone.
Remedial life began to play their final songs and proceeded to play them with the audience being more than satisfied. Finally, they were on their last song and in the middle of Maverick’s finishing solo. His inebriation began to peak and as a result, he had missed several notes by plucking the wrong strings of his guitar. He had lost his coordination and rhythmic groove. Come on, you are almost finished! Maverick thought. He began to feel unsteady on his two feet, losing touch of his balance.
He felt he was going to faint and collapse as he began to see a myriad of stars. His vision was gradually getting darker as more shades in his visual field began to emerge and appear. An extreme high-pitched ringing occurred in both of his ears, which all seemed too familiar. Not again, not now. My sweet lord forgive me. Everyone forgive me. Maverick thought to himself as he gradually collapsed onto the stage floor rendering himself unconscious.
Maverick awoke the following morning not remembering what had transpired. He rubbed his eyes and reached for his prescription spectacles, unable to see where he was or who was with him.
“It is about time you’ve got up. Get ready, our flight leaves after twelve.” Natalie suggested. It seemed she had kept an eye on Maverick all night.
“There is a fluid IV inserted in my hand. I have embarrassed myself, haven’t I?” Maverick said to her, wondering what had occurred. “What happened at the amphitheatre?”
Natalie Moore, powered on her smartphone and shown him an online article published by The Toronto Sun.
“Remedial Life’s Maverick Winspear Collapses on Stage.” Natalie read to him with a deep concern in her voice. “You and I both know your drinking caused this. You should consider yourself lucky, the journalist could have easily written about your drinking problem for all to see.”
“Thanks for the soothing remark, but they already know.” Maverick scoffed.
Maverick detached the adhesive medical tape from the top of his hand that kept the IV intact and thrown it into a waste bin.
“I need you to know, I am going to quit the band. I am tired of seeing you kill yourself with that awful poison.” Natalie, said. “However, I will leave you with an ultimatum, alright? Here is the deal.” She began to propose, “Commit to sobriety now and I will promise to stay for as long as we are a band.”
Maverick got up from his bed and started over to the windowpane. He pulled aside a curtain and looked through the chilly glass. Maverick stared into the overcast autumn sky, pondering an answer for Natalie.
“I haven’t played in front of an audience sober in my life.” Maverick insinuated, “As you know, I am not myself when I am under the influence of alcohol.”
“Yeah, it is called an alter ego. You cut loose on a whole other level.” Natalie replied.
“But you are right in every way. I am grateful to have you in my life, Natalie. I can only return the favor by fulfilling your wish and committing to true abstinence.” Maverick explained.
Natalie scurried over to the guest bathroom and picked up a recycle bin that was filled with empty liquor bottles.
“Do you see? You do this to yourself! Everywhere we go, everywhere we stay. I am serious, Maverick!” Natalie explained, “I am astonished you are still living and breathing these days!”
Maverick felt ashamed as he glanced downward at the carpeted floor, knowing quite well her statements rang true.
“I know. Now, will you please go? I need to pack here.” Maverick demanded.
“I will ask you in a nice way and do me a favor, please? Get rid of your booze and eat something. The restaurant in the lobby should still be serving breakfast still. Don’t talk to anyone, and don’t get tempted.” Natalie asked in a sincere way. She seemed worried he would start drinking again.
“There are two bottles of wine inside the refrigerator. Please, spill them out.” Natalie asked.
Maverick slipped in both of his feet inside his suede leather boots and zipped them up. Then, he started over to the fridge and opened its door, grabbing the two bottles of chilled wine.
“This seems like such a waste, don’t you think?” Maverick said.
“Whatever, I will meet you in the shuttle bus. We are heading to the airport after lunch at one o’clock. Get your butt in gear.” Natalie replied.
Maverick twisted both caps off the bottles and poured out the wine down the sink. “I will see you in an hour.” Maverick asserted, knowing quite well where this was going.
With his imagination, he pictured sitting at the hotel bar having a few pints before leaving with the band. Maverick had finished packing his belongings and out the door he went, still feeling subtle withdrawal. Although, he slept for a total of eight hours, he yawned as he waited for the elevator to appear on the seventh floor. Still waiting for it to appear, he thought about what Natalie had said to him. As a result of reiteration, an overwhelming feeling of curiosity clicked in and he decided to check his phone for other articles about what had happened last night.
He felt Natalie had shown him the news article that would not hurt him the most, as it was in her nature to be kind-hearted. To his surprise, he was right. “M. Winspear of Remedial Life: Intoxicated. Could Not Finish Encore.” He read, silently to himself. Natalie is right. I feel disgusted with myself, how could I have let this happen. Maverick thought about Natalie resigning from the band if he decided to continue with his drinking ways. The fact he poured out chilled wine down the sink, prompted him to think of strategic, addict-like ways in acquiring more alcohol. Even if it meant walking a mile or two.
The elevator door opened, and he began to strut over to the restaurant bar. The heels of his boots caused a fancy clicking sound with each step on the laminated flooring. Maverick picked out a barstool to sit on and waited.
“The bluesman! What’d you like?” The bartender said and was more than delighted to help.
“Two pints of ale and a shot of Courvoisier.” Maverick ordered, “Keep them coming my way, I got a plane to catch.”
The bartender handed over Maverick a large, frosted glass of ale. His first drink soothed and comforted his subtle withdrawal, a slight tremor of his gifted hands. In the endless depths of his heart, he willingly broken a promise and betrayed Natalie Moore. However, in an immature way, he felt they were even as she did not provide enough disclosure to him earlier that morning, the reality of what the journalists were truly writing about him and his health. Maverick finished the remains of his ale and tipped his trucker hat to the bartender.
He began to feel all the satisfaction alcohol can offer to its chemically incarcerated prisoners, as the familiar sensations of warmth and comfort began to emerge in him. He had glanced at the television set that was attached to one of the walls of the restaurant. It displayed the twelve o’clock local news, weather and of course, his incident from last night. As the story of his band Remedial Life was shown in real time, he felt curious and anxious to watch the band’s news coverage in its entirety. Finally, the newscaster in his own words: “Winspear, too drunk to stand up and play. Collapses after encore.”
Maverick felt disgusted with himself. It was not a feeling of belittlement, but he was humiliated in a deep way. The bartender picked up the television’s remote and changed the channel. Maverick felt his abilities to empathize from afar.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Maverick. These guys exaggerate everything.” The bartender said to him with a genuine smile. “This one is on the house.” He handed Maverick one last beer, for the road.
“Thank you for understanding! Well, it is twelve-thirty, I must get going.” Maverick explained, “You don’t mind if I take this along with me, do you?”
The bartender seemed amazed. “Go ahead, you are leaving. But you didn’t get that from here!”
Maverick nodded his head to show his understanding. Then, he started over to meet his bandmates in the front of the hotel building. Before he could reach the exiting doors, a teenaged girl had approached him before he could walk on out.
“Maverick, please sign my T-shirt?” the girl asked with a bright, innocent sparkle in her eye.
Maverick examined his band’s concert T-shirt, wrote his signature in permanent ink, and reciprocated her smile. If I were really in bad shape, she would not have asked for an autograph. Maverick, thought. Finally, he exited the building and approached the bus. He climbed inside and they all began to head straight for the airport.
“There he is! How are you, feeling better?” Paul Cooper, their producer, and manager asked.
“I feel as though I didn’t sleep, to be honest with you.” Maverick replied.
“You are such a liar!” Natalie shouted toward Maverick. “I seen you at the bar twenty minutes ago, you said you would stop drinking today!” Natalie expressed her concern.
“Calm down. It was one drink, Natalie. I can handle a single pint or two.” Maverick looked over to Paul and shrugged his shoulders.
“What is this about? You really are going to quit drinking?” Paul asked as he wanted to uncover every detail between their argument.
“I told him I would leave the band unless he gets clean and sober.” Natalie explained to him.
“I don’t think he is going to quit anytime soon, Natalie.” Paul said.
“Then, I am checking out! You all can figure things out on your own.” Natalie said, seemingly fed up with the entire situation.
David rested his hand on Maverick’s shoulder in confidence. “She is just going through a difficult time pal. This will blow over.” David advised.
“You know her more than I do. After all, she is your full sister.” Maverick replied.
“You are right about that! I will talk to you in private once we are on the plane.” David insinuated.
What could he want? We never talk to each other, nor do we get along. Maverick had thought. Their shuttle bus reached their destination, and they all boarded the private jet. Maverick, chose to sit next to David Moore, intrigued by his proposition in their prior interaction together.
“Well, what were you meaning to say, David?” Maverick inquired as he buckled himself into the luxurious seat.
“Your problem with Natalie is ironic. In her early twenties, she battled a dark demon in alcohol too.” David explained, “Because she endured and suffered the spiraling ups and downs of alcohol abuse herself, she knows what you are going through. She doesn’t want to see you self-destruct or being hurt.”
Maverick felt quite uncomfortable, as he began to fold his arms but still listened to what David had to say.
“I would not have thought she fought a former alcohol addiction. Natalie’s personality is a delight to be around. It is just peculiar she would have a history with alcohol abuse.” Maverick replied.
“Although, she acquired empathic traits as a result of her recovery, you had caused overwhelming tension in her because you remind her of what she’s been through.” David explained.
“I understand. I will tell her I plan to moderate my drinking, and I will get in contact with somebody who can arrange support.” Maverick insinuated his subtle interest in sobriety, in the hopes of earning back Natalie’s trust.
“Tell her, she would admire your initiative. After all, she made sure you were still breathing and alive last night.” David said.
“I will talk to her about it now, wish me luck.” Maverick unbuckled his seatbelt and started over to Natalie’s spot.
Please be understanding, Natalie. Maverick had thought as he taken a seat right beside her.
“Are you enjoying the view?” Maverick said, “Look, I know my behavior caused a lot of disruption and heartache in our band and if it weren’t for you, we would have been finished a long time ago.”
Maverick looked deeply into her emerald-green eyes and meant what he was saying. As a result of his approach, Natalie’s face brightened and lit up as if he finally understood how she was feeling about him.
“Alright? Tell me, what are you going to do about it?” Natalie asked, seemingly testing him.
“When we get to Ottawa, I promise to contact several professionals that can help with my drinking. However, I already started, and I assure you I will moderate for the time being.” Maverick promised to her.
“Your falling down in front of everyone last night should have been the breaking point, but you still insist on submerging your feelings into an unforgivable sea of liquor.” Natalie expressed her worries.
“Everyone knows I am not shy about my drinking.” Maverick said.
“That isn’t the point. I know all about your failed marriage, is that why you drink yourself into oblivion day after day, night after night?” Natalie inquired.
“That is all water under the bridge, Natalie. Valerie Flanagan is just a handful of strawberries turned rotten. She concealed her ulterior motives quite well.” Maverick explained.
“When we met, you were still married to her. However, at that time alcohol didn’t mean a thing to you back then.” Natalie reminisced her prior engagements with Maverick. “Looking at you nowadays, your unkempt beard and missing tooth are all indicators of a man who doesn’t recognize his kryptonite or is nearly giving up on life.”
Maverick nodded his head as he listened and agreed to Natalie’s observations. “I will change, Natalie. I had conquered alcohol addiction before, and I will do it again.” Maverick said.
“I will believe it when I see it. I still don’t think you can manage all on your own.” Natalie replied.
“Recovery takes time and cannot be forced, just keep believing in me. I will talk to you later, Natalie.” Maverick said.
Maverick returned to his original seat after their conversation together ended. Then, he unzipped his travelling bag and took out a composition book which he always carried on hand. He opened the book up and began to write the lyrics to a song about heartache and the redemption that would follow. Maverick envisioned it would be a song he would perform on his own at some point in time during their tour. He felt it would be one step closer in earning Natalie’s trust once again, and to ensure their bands survival.
I am going to leave you alone, I will just let it be. I would change my ways if you would just love me. Maverick written down onto his notebook. Although, his writing was inspired by Natalie Moore and his own drinking affairs, more irony came in to play as he was not reluctant to ask the flight attendant for a glass of wine. Deep down in the trenches of his mind, he knew not to flaunt his drinking after what was discussed between himself, Natalie, and David Moore. Everyone was aware he needed to change, even their fans themselves.
As the addiction had him, he sipped on the wine just as a social drinker would. Maverick maintained a level of intoxication that would render satisfaction, but more importantly, not crossing the boundary in blacking out. He had known about this phenomenon, and it would occur to him frequently, as he was not able to remember and could not pick up the pieces on what transpired in many of his alcoholic escapades.
Maverick looked through the plane’s window and appreciated the beauty of the vast horizon of the Eastern Canadian landscape. He had written down lyrics that would conjure up the hardship of continual travel on the roads or in the skies, how it may prompt an individual to give into the bottle without considering its consequences. Time stood still in the air, but an hour had passed, and he decided to pull down the window curtain and cover. He closed his eyes and slept for the remainder of their air travel.