(Background: Beta is a minor character in the story I am currently writing. He is a homeless man known only by his nickname, a play on the old Alpha-Beta supermarket smock he wears. While I don't want to reveal the full details of what he does in the story that makes Doc want to kill him, for some reason I wrote this scene first)
“Weird fucking week, eh?” Beta smiles a mouthful of Cavity Creeps as he reaches for the bottle.
“Yeah, you could say that.” I contemplate holding the bottle just out of his reach, but let him have it when my eyes start to water. Even sitting on the beach with the winds blowing in from the ocean, I stay a good two feet from Beta to preserve my sense of smell.
Beta is already three sheets to the wind and tips over just from the weight of the bottle now half-empty. He takes a deep swig and I wonder if even the alcohol content of the dark whiskey is enough to kill the bacteria inside his mouth.
“So Lazarus confessed to it?” he asks as he hands back the bottle.
“Yeah, blackmail. He says she hit her head on a table after falling. Not sure if that will stick.” I hold the bottle up to my mouth and fake a pull.
“Damn shame. Even for a gook she was a hot piece of ass.” Another deep pull. “She had a real sweet voice, too.”
Beta giggles a bit, the alcohol has finally numbed the vocal filter. “After I got her wallet and stuff, she asked me for help.” Another giggle, and I want to twist his neck shut. I bite my bottom lip to stay calm. Beta has to talk. I need him to tell me what I already know. “Nuthin’ I could do.. She was already dyin’. Feel bad, though. Santos and I kept walkin’.”
I grab my cell after zero rings and say hello to no one. Beta is wasted to a point beyond noticing or caring. I tell my phone I will get there as soon as possible. “Gotta go, Beta.”
“You sure?” he says, gripping the bottle tightly.
“Yeah, you keep the rest. Sort of an apology for decking you the other day.”
Beta grins. He would gladly take a beat-down twice as bad for a full bottle of whiskey. Another deep pull, trying to finish it off in case I change my mind. Hygiene aside, I haven’t swallowed a single drop of the whiskey or the dozen barbiturates I threw in there before walking down to the beach with Beta. As he takes a long swig, I see the small outline of one sticking inside the bottle.
“Well maybe one for the road,” I ask as Beta reluctantly hands me the bottle. I try to casually swirl the bottle a few times and tip it up as if to drink. Pill gone. “Take care of yourself Beta.”
“Thanks again Doc.” Beta slurs as the bottle lands in his lap.
I turn and walk back to Jake’s, sparing one glance back at Beta quickly passing out into oblivion, surrounded by thousands of pock-mark steps struck in the sand. Within a few hours it will all be washed clean, if only for a short while.