1915, by A. F.
Killick and W.
they needn't move the
public library into
larger quarters," Fatty
Lewis declared, as he
ordered a short one.
"At least not on my
"I thought you were on the wagon,"
Hurrah Smith remarked.
"Same thing," Lewis replied; "I'm
just drinking a little beer occasionally."
"You're the guy that was going to
read everything in the library, get a lot of sleep and save money," said Hurrah
"Made a lot of speeches knocking booze, said everybody that drank was feeble
minded and all that sort of thing. Did you get tired of reading?"
"I got tired of living like the
Man in the Iron Mask," Lewis replied. "Books may be fine company if you've
been raised with 'em and know 'em. But meeting the as a stranger, it takes
a long time to get acquainted. I enjoyed reading, but it made me sleepy.
The prohibitionists ain't provided many ways for a guy that's taken the veil to
amuse himself. It's a cinch the Dutch Lunch Brigade can't use you.
What's a guy going to do?"
"How did you happen to slip?"
"Oh, that old stiff they call
Satan grabbed me one night when I wasn't looking," Lewis admitted.
" 'What's the matter?' Satan
inquires. 'Why ain't you down with the bunch?'
" 'I'm on the wagon,' I replied
proudly. 'I've cut out the boys for awhile. I am getting too old to
be dubbing 'round nights with a lot of owls with castiron stomachs.
There's nothing to it. A guy just ruins his health. He don't have
time to do anything else and besides it costs too much. If I'm ever going
to get any place it's time I was starting.'
" 'You're absolutely right,' Satan
admitted. 'Cut it out for awhile. Give your insides a rest.
You've been hitting it up too strong.' "
"Must be a friendly old stiff,"
Hurrah remarked. "I always thought Satan was a bad actor."
"He is a bad actor," Lewis
replied. "He was just framing up on me, but I didn't find it out until
later. If he ever comes monkeying around you bounce a brick off his noodle
and run him away.
"Well, I drifted along for a few
days and was all swelled up on myself," Lewis continued. "I could tell to
a minute, any time of the day or night, just how long it had been since I took a
drink. I won't say I didn't kind of have a hankering for one. But it
was up to me to demonstrate that old Demon Rum didn't have me in his grasp.
I had some will power. Temptation sure was thrown all around me. I
was invited to go cabereting. Guys that hadn't offered to buy a drink
since Fourth Street was the southern city limits wanted to pop. Several
Annette Kellermans came to the surface and insisted on buying me something in
the way of a present. If I'd been drinking they wouldn't have even shook
dice for the beer if I'd spotted them the first horse. But nothing doing.
I was the Grand Worth President of the Never Again Club.
"All the time old Satan was
standing around patting me on the back.
" 'That's the time,' he says;
'show them weak-kneed brothers that you've got a will power.'
"Pretty soon I realized I was
losing my thirst and accumulating lonesomeness. I hadn't been invited to a
poker game for three weeks. Guys I used to see every day never came near
me. Everything was turning green.
"Why don't you drop into the
Dutchman's?' Satan suggested one day, when the sun was shining bright, and
I couldn't see it. 'Show them dubs that you've really conquered your
" 'Go ahead,' he says, giving me a
shove toward the Dutchman's. 'You can take something soft like buttermilk
or white soda. It'll do you good to see the old bunch.'
"I tried it," Lewis admitted, "but
buttermilk and soda sure are a couple of sad beverages. While everybody
else was getting happier I grew sadder. Soft drinks were filling, but not
satisfying. Still I was on the old sprinkler.
" 'You've got that old booze game
beaten to a pulp,' Satan says as I came out. 'You needn't be afraid of it.
You convinced me that you are right.'
"The the old stiff opened a window
and let me catch cold.
" 'Take a little shot of rock and
rye,' Satan suggested. 'It'll help you.'
" 'Nothing doing,' I replied.
''I'm on the wagon for keeps.'
" 'I know it,' he admitted.
'Still a little jolt for medicinal purposes wouldn't hurt anything.'
" 'Not for the good Lewis,' I told
him. 'I'll take some quinine.'
"The old fellow let me alone for
about a week. Then he sends along one of those carbolic acid days.
Cold, drizzling rain, raw wind, sloppy under foot. One of them days when
you feel like you could cheerfully murder somebody. If I'd been
temperamental, I'd probably longed for an open fireplace, a pair of slippers, a
plate of apples and some copies of Poe and Balzac. Being Boozemental, all
I could see was a nice quiet thirst parlor, congenial companions playing
pinochle or whist and a dark-skinned attendant bringing hops in tall, thin
glasses, interspersed now and then with cheese sandwiches on rye bread I
tried to nerve myself up to going to a matinee and forgetting that thirst parlor
scene, but nothing doing.
" 'I'd sure like to meet you
again,' old Swiss Cheese remarked, when I tried to concentrate my mind on
" 'Why don't you do what you want
to?' Satan suggests. 'Other guys can drink and get away with it.
Ain't you as good as anybody? Use a little judgment. Don't try to
drink it all up. A little beer ain't going to hurt you. Your
system's been used to it. Giver her another trial. If you can't get
along with it you can stop again.'
"I had the rottenest luck that
afternoon," Lewis added. "Held all the 9-spots in the deck and never even
melded forty jacks. But I never lost temper. I heard a lot of bugs
come in and tell the bartender that it was a 'rotten day.'
"But they were crazy. It was
one of the grandest days I ever saw in my life. The bluebirds and robins
were singing, the orchard was in bloom, and the sunshine was almost blinding
over where I was sitting. Why, I even laughed at Mrs. Lewis that night
when she told me that there was a double assessment in the fraternal insurance3
society that month."
"I guess there ain't much for a
guy to do that's not drinking," Hurrah admitted.
"Oh, I'd hardly say that," Lewis
replied. "He could go out in the hills and be a hermit."