By Sam Farahmand

WINE is to the right, the way wine always was the italics of alcohol, while whiskey and all of the other spirits are to the left, though I don’t see the sign for them, but I already know beer is always in the way back where it’s the coldest, so I walk down the aisle to the middle of the domestic side of paradise where I see one heaven of a deal on the brand of beer I drink most. There are cases of twelve sixteen-ounce cans for twelve dollars, only a dollar more than the cases of twelve twelve-ounce cans, so I’ll have to believe, if this isn’t another dollar for another day, it at least is good to have a reason to not have to have one.

I pull open the door of the refrigerator and I stand in the cold for a second until I take the case of twelve sixteen-ounce cans, staring at the one in line behind start to slide down toward me until it reaches the end of its shelf. I push the door back then closed with my back, carrying the case at my side while looking back to the other domestic cases, but the brand of beer I drink most tastes more like America than most things one can put in one’s mouth in America. The case has a lot of lines written on its blue top, like More Taste in white and Only 96 Calories in gold, but I wonder, if I hold the can upside down to let it finish into my mouth, it must look a lot closer to 69.

I wait in line behind another customer while I stare past the cashier at a calendar with the date someone has to be born to be able to drink, one of my favorite pastimes being to try to remember where I was on that same date. I started with the pastime sometime in 1996, not the year 1996 it­self, but the year 1996 on the calendars with the dates someone born in 1996 could start drinking legally by turning twenty-one.

It hits me that the Only 96 Calories is for a serving size of twelve-ounce cans, not for the six­teen-ounce cans, looking down at the case again, but I don’t know what that means, other than to multiply the caloric content by four-thirds, or even, thinking of that line that isn’t between things or under things but that line drawn over things, 1.333̅.

I set the case down on its side so the cashier can scan the barcode, but she makes some show of picking up the case and setting it upright and asking me for my ID, which I show her, only to hear her say her birthday is only four days after my birthday. The cashier sets the case down on its side so she can scan the barcode while I ask if that makes her a Taurus too, which she says it most definitely does make her a Taurus too. I don’t, though all I want to do is, say, Bullshit, so I plead the Twenty-First.

It is hard to say something without wanting to say everything, so I take the case and leave be­fore another customer starts to set his bottles of wine down and I think life is mostly made up of ands, ands as in forgive and forget. I know I’ve gotten the forgetting down, though I wouldn’t re­member if I am working my way backwards through the and, but when I am outside again and I set the case on the roof of the car, I have to stretch my legs because, after spraining my left ankle this past spring, I started running again since moving to Atlanta in the summer. My Achilles heel is still my Achilles heel, but maybe there is something in the difference between successive ands and simultaneous ones.

Self-inflammation isn’t as sexy as self-immolation if it takes you a lifetime to burn yourself to death, so I’ll have to believe, staring at the case again, it’s good I’m strained from running up and down a mountain this morning. The mountain was the site of some battle from when the country went down on itself, but some of the cannons are still there and the mountain is covered in signs with the C word all the way to the top. I read some of the signs about the Civil War and it is hard to tell who won.

It isn’t surprising to see how many other C words the C in Christianity has stood and stood up for in the past and present of this Country, but I walk over to an overlook where most of the peo­ple there look like they can hardly stand after having driven up in their cars to take their pictures of themselves and stare out at Atlanta, though the city looks like it is underwater.

I run down the mountain and I run past the cemetery where there are American flags set in the Union side and there are bouquets of flowers on the other side. I see all the others recording their moments around the mountain and I see everyone wants to record something because they all be­lieve the past is the truth, though some of them are looking for their service, holding their screens up like they’re looking up to God. Maybe I’d believe in God if he believed in me.

I run down the mountain because running up and down the mountain is as close as I can get to exorcising my demons, though looking at all of the signs on the mountain, I think the past looked like ghosts even before they died. I see all of the signs for where the bullocks moved the cannons up and down the mountain, which makes me think, I should stop by Bullock’s Wine & Spirits on the drive home, so when I do and I’m inside the liquor store, I see the sign for

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