In real life, he died in his bed with his friends around him. In my dream, the doctor took out his liver and I examined it: fatty, scarred, used up. But he lived in the afterlife in a new, healthy body. He didn't need to drink to elevate his mood. He just was, and that was good.

The regular at Martuni's ordered another one. The bar was full of people ordering another one, as well as newbies who really don't drink very often. They'll have the lemon drop, please. The man stirred his drink five times, lifted the straw and tapped it, then laid it down beside his glass. A soothing ritual repeated again and again, all over this town.

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