Merc Rule 21

Written by J. D. Wiley --- Art by J. D. Wiley

Merc Rule 21: On a scale of one to drunk, how many tens am I? -Big Money Marquez

There’s a handful of figures every merc in the bloody business should be able to calculate at a moment’s notice. For example, the number of drinks he can toss back before becoming completely useless. As importance goes, knowing the aforementioned falls damn close to the top. Might be the first thing an employer looks for. ‘Specially one as demanding as Big Money Marquez.

Fortunately, there’s a rating system—a simple 1 through 10—for determining how drunk you are. Big Money’s worked out the math, so we don’t have to.

Without further ado, I introduce the Marquez Scale.

1.) Had a beer? You’re a “one” whether you’re feeling it or not. Ain’t no such thing as zero, unless you ain’t been drinking.

2.) The world’s suddenly a brighter place. All rosy cheeks and rose-colored lenses. Handshakes and high fives. You’re either swimming your way up to a buzz or winding down from one.

3.) The urge to piss becomes overwhelming and you’re forced to break the seal for the first time. If you stopped drinking now, you might be stone sober in a couple hours. As it stands, the buzz is real. 

4.) You just traded in your rosy bifocals for beer goggles. You found that charm you been missing your whole life. You’re the devil in a velvet suit. Everyone’s your friend tonight. But a word o’ caution on beer goggles. Everyone only gets better looking the more you drink from here… 

5.) There’s momentum now. And it’s getting harder to stop. You’ve entered that fuzzy area. Where it’s hard to say how much your decision-making skills are being affected. You might think you’re okay to drive. You ain’t. Might start a fight. On accident. Hell, you might even dance right down the center of the street ’cause it seems like a good idea.

6.) Suddenly you’re a tough guy. No, you’re untouchable. Shit, maybe even invincible. The paltry idea of being shot doesn’t faze you. You might even proudly proclaim that you been shot before. When you clearly haven’t. None of that matters. ‘Cause damn it, you’re ready to break bottles and get shit done.

7.) Pain is no longer a factor. You’ll look at the hand holding the bottle you just broke and wonder how you didn’t realize it was bleeding. You’ll apply pressure, wrap it in duct tape, and finally attempt to cauterize it with the flat of a white-hot knife. But you’re just drunk enough that you’ll miss the cut entirely.

8.) The room won’t stop spinning. You have to hold onto chairs, people, anything… just to keep yourself from flying into the wall. You’re in desperate need of the bathroom and have a disproportionate chance of being able to find it. You should’ve stopped three drinks ago. But you soldiered on…

9.) Cold tile, a toilet seat, an empty bathtub… These are your new best friends. As you lay there you’ll swear off drinking—or at least consider going on the wagon for a week—as you contemplate your life decisions up to this point. You’re hurting. Expect the Hangover from Hell and plenty of Menudo in your future.

10.) When you wake up, you won’t remember curling up in the snow to sleep. Or having left your vomit-soaked shirt behind, with the genius idea that coyotes would find it. And save you from having to deal with it the next morning. You won’t remember why your pant leg smells like piss. Won’t remember a damn bit of it. And you won’t try. You’ll walk around, a broken shell of human regret for a week. Until you realize the only solution to your profound emptiness is to start drinking all over again.

Now that you know the scale, make adjustments accordingly.

The level of drunkenness Big Money is willing to tolerate varies by the day, and by the job. But the rule of thumb seems to be, if you stay within two points of wherever he’s sitting, you’re in good shape. So mind the gap when he’s stone sober.

-Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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