I almost want to say:
There are Unless Places.
Places you don’t end up in, Unless. The kinds of places Junior would talk about when it got late enough at night and cold enough, and he was full of enough alcohol. To say that Junior didn’t drink was an outright lie, but one that he was happy stoking the embers of, and one that he’d get away with when he could. Often for the benefit of female companionship, which was a rare enough thing for Junior. He’d claim his mother was a scientist, which she really was, and that she’d been researching the effects of alcohol on a human body and that it was his birth that forced her to resign her job. And that that was why he’d never touch alcohol. But on the nights when all of us needed something to cling to we knew we could get Perry or Bill or maybe even Wink to push Junior just hard enough and just slowly enough that that staunch veneer of the teetotal lifestyle would warble and crack. And that it was then that Junior would begin to drink more seriously and more honestly than the rest of us. It was after, long after, when Junior’s demons would come for him, and he begin to talk about the world and his place in it. And then and only then, that he would even dare mention Unless Places. He talk about these kinds of places in the past in tones that evoked splendor. The Frontier, the Klondike, the Old West. Places where law had little lease, where found themselves standing tall under darkening skies. The kinds of places you don’t get to go to unless something else has already happened to you…
But of course, that’s not the truth at all.