LAST DRUNK STANDING By Steven Acevedo

To say my friend Artie was a social drunk was too kind. He was a livid social drunk in the worst sense of the word. On top of that he smoked several packs of cigarettes a day to boot. Deadly mixture at best and at worst, a deathwish waiting to happen.

I used to be like him. I really did. Now he's going down the same road I did.

He was probably the most mixed up person in the whole world. Living in excess and not giving a damn to anyone who didn't like his attitude. Artie hung out with a bad crowd of people. One was a person who had been known to instigate trouble and cause friction among others. The other was his boss, a real jerk in the inside and outside. Artie hero worshipped the man for being so "cool and collective". Guy's name - Albert Holmes.

In truth Al was this way in real life. But it was very disturbing as he conducted himself in a very cold and aloof manner on air as well as off air. And that is what made it incredibly difficult for me to understand the guy. He is a talk show on the popular station WYAK. Fitting call letters considering that the majority of talk show hosts spent far too time throwing out opinions than listening to others. And Artie was in the middle of it trying to soak more knowledge than I'd care to know. Not that I didn't want to know about it. It all just goes over my head.

I had seen a change in him. Probably more than I have in previous years. He was a very sad person when I saw him. He and I used to go for the hardest liquor available to loosen ourselves up. And when I finally reached my limit of self-destruction, Artie continued. It's my fault for trying to make him into something he wasn't.

And when I created an Internet station solely for the fans to interact with us he seemed to have larger plans in mind that did not involve my original one. But then I think I got too carried away by my own ambitions to notice he was slipping back into his old ways. I didn't know what to do.

Months had passed by and I had forgotten all about it until one day a close friend of mine named Steve Devito had come to New York for a visit. When I answered the door he and another friend of Artie's look visibly shaken as if...

No. It couldn't be.

"Is Artie all right?" I asked worriedly.

"Yes. He is fine and No he isn't," Steve said. "We thought you should know what happened."

They told me everything. He had become so consumed by his job as a board operator for another station that it infringed on his job at the station I created. Artie was becoming increasingly unreasonable. He drank a lot to get away from his problems. No one seemed to be able to reach him until he crashed his car into a telephone pole coming home from a party. He was in the hospital recovering from his wounds. I told Steve and Artie's friend to come with me as we sped quickly to the medical center.

We got to St. Dumas Hospital in thirty minutes. Artie was on the 7th floor. The floor was as quiet as a tomb. It creeped Steve out. He once was in a ward like this when he tried to commit suicide and it took him days to recover from the disorientation of staying in a confined place for two and half months. But when the feeling wore off. He came to appreciate how good he had it. He had survived his worst nightmare and lived to tell about it.

It didn't look too good for Artie however. His left arm was in a sling, So was his right leg. His head was bandaged up from the concussion to his head. His left cheek was swallon. He looked horrible. From Steve's perspective Artie seemd half alive. That was what went through my mind too.

We all kept a vigil on the poor fool. If he came out of his coma he'd either be a vegetable for the rest of his life from brain damage or lose his memory. Neither thought was comforting. But still we watched and waited.

We each said soothing words to Artie in our own way. It was very hard for me to publicly express how I felt for somebody but usually I came around to it. For Steve it seemed natural. I remembered when he came to me with open arms wanting to be my friend. I was hesistant at first but after awhile I found that he was a good person with a big heart. Right now Steve's heart seemed on the verge of breaking. His eyes were soaked with tears as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. I knew that feeling all too well. Running his hand on Artie's good cheek he leaned over and kissed it. He really loved Artie like a brother.

The next few days were very tense. Sitting on pins and needles waiting for something to happen drove me up the wall. For Steve it was harder. He was sullen and depressed for a few days neither eating or sleeping well. But luck was on our side. Artie was feeling better.

But not without a bruised ego to remind him he had snubbed too many of friends in the process. It would be a long time still before he realized what his actions had caused him. Same way with me once upon a time. I've paid my dues. I hope this time he does too for the sake of loyalty and friendship.

God be with him.