When I was a boy, my father would take me along to the liquor store to exchange bottled beer.

The checkout counter is flanked by a roller conveyor stacked with the cardboard cases holding the returnable bottles. Crisp new cardboard. Faded fuzzy cardboard. Clear Bottles. Green bottles. Brown bottles. Kingsbury. Blatz. Rhinelander. Budweiser. High Life.

The conveyor declines gently down into the darkness of a basement cellar. Each case the cashier puts at the top of the conveyor pushes the row further into the darkness, into the musty smell of stale beer and mouldering cardboard.

I am just tall enough to peer over the edge of the counter down into the cellar. The cashier leans in with a warning,
“Careful, Boy, The Beer Monster is down there.”


An old man lives alone with his tumbledown memories heaped up in The Old House. Massive and derelict and overgrown with secret passages and hidden rooms and miles of subterranean crawl spaces where violent things are hidden. A storm rages outside, battering the sagging roof of an impossibly expansive attic. The rain comes through the seams and runs down the timbers and down the walls.

The water runs down into the bed rooms of youth where the drywall is missing and you can see right through. Collections of old furniture piled in the center and boxes in the closets lie neglected by the movers.

The water runs down cracking the plaster of the living rooms, buckling the hardwood floors, soaking the Persian rugs rolled up alongside the cold iron of the steam radiators.

The water runs down and joins the dribblings from the riot of leaking pipes to pool ominously on the floor of the basement poorly lit by naked bulbs swinging in pull chain fixtures.


The Beer Monster lives in the cellar where the light never shines. It lives in a nest of shredded cardboard boxes and feeds upon returnable bottles. Clear Bottles. Green bottles. Brown bottles. Kingsbury. Blatz. Rhinelander. Budweiser. High Life.

Grandmother’s bones lie in her stone crypt. Pull her quilt over your head but it cannot muffle the sound of those jaws slowly grinding up the glass.


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