Wine

A flash piece by Mike Lee


“Wine! You’re drinkin’ goddamn wine!”

Mom on my left, with Dwayne on the right, sitting on the sofa in the house Dwayne shared with his mother and his screaming younger sister…

Her high-pitched words were brutal. Dwayne is an alcoholic, and my mother never seemed to care. Years later she admitted she was one, only because she thought about drinking all the time. I did not believe her. At least she was private about it; I never saw her drink in front of me. Perhaps in my dim memory she did. Or maybe I was inattentive. I nodded in acknowledgment, moving on, which I did for real several months later, one month short of my nineteenth birthday. I only saw her twenty times before her stroke nearly fifteen years later.

That aside, this was a situation I never asked to be involved in.

The sister yelled, “Goddamn wine!” again before flinging the quart bottle of MD 20-20 into the fireplace, glass shattering against the brick, shards flying onto the carpeted floor.

This was a trinity: mom, boyfriend, and me in the middle; though someone else’s son—another drunk—was with us, too.

We all sat quietly, heads down in shame.

I leaned over and gathered the pieces I could reach, and then got up to get the rest. I pulled open my shirt and dropped them in, harvesting Dwayne’s sorrows. Mom’s as well. After gathering all the glass I could find, I walked to the kitchen, passing the raging sister. I tossed the shards into the garbage.

Dwayne died two years later. I was fourteen. Mom got the call late at night during a snowstorm. The phone awakened me.

It was a bad year for her. I did not go to the funeral. Instead, I shined his boots, which they would bury him in. His aged mother watched, understanding.


Mike Lee is a writer, labor journalist, photographer, and a managing editor at a trade union newspaper. Some of his fiction pieces, as well as other types of work, have appeared in The Ampersand Review, Paraphilia, Sensitive Skin, Visions Libres, Glossolalia, Dime Show Review, Peacock Journal, Third Street Writers, Corvus Review, Violet Windows, and The Potomac. His stories are also featured in several anthologies, including Forbidden Acts (Avon Books) and Pawn of Chaos (White Wolf Publishing). Lee’s story collection, titled All Your Ambition, is available from Blurb, and published in Germany by VL Editions.

Lee’s photography has been included in several group shows, including those at the Museo della Grafica in Pisa, Italy, with his photographs featured in the Museo’s collection. His photography is currently being exhibited at Art Thou Gallery in Berkeley, California.

Lee lives in New York City.

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