Temptation In New Orleans
Sam Barasch
S weat trickles between my shoulder blades. My wife sleeps quietly beside me. I am thirsty.

I rise from my seated position on the corner of the bed and walk to the open sliding doors. Pushing aside the listless drapes, I step out onto the balcony over looking the French quarter. Are there any liquor stores open? I hear the muffled riot of pleasure seekers from miles below our suite. I can almost smell the friendly scent of stale beer and secondhand smoke.

There's my wife again. I remember everything she's done for me and everything she made me do for myself. I remember the months of counseling. I try and make myself believe that I could not go back. I try to believe that water will quench my thirst.

"We asked for a room without the minibar." My wife told the hotel's front desk. "Yes, we did get the suite, but I'd like someone to come immediately and remove the liquor. Yes, the other items are fine. They can stay."

When the bellboy came, my wife held the tiny bottles of bourbon and gin from extended limbs like the rotten, poisonous fruit of a wasted tree.

I feel my stomach drop when I think of the brown spicy bourbon down my throat. Bitter gin dancing on my tongue and the laughter of friends. It has been a long time and no one would know. Things couldn't get as bad as they were before. I have better perspective now and could stop myself.

I notice that I am dressed, but don't remember exactly putting on my clothes. I wander through the balcony, kitchen, and bedroom. It's as if I have lost my keys, but I can feel them in my pocket. Gingerly I sit on the corner of the bed and put on my loafers. My wife stirs. Quiet. Quiet.

I ghost walk to the door and look back at my wife. I want to tell her that I love her. I want to tell her I won't be out too late. Opening the door, I stand at the precipice looking out into the red velvet hallway. Turning back towards our room, I notice that the drapes are moving slightly in a gentle breeze.

First published: August 1999
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