He swallowed nervously. He'd rehearsed it a thousand times, but the thought of telling his secret – for real – made him almost light-headed. He closed his eyes momentarily, cutting himself off from the curious eyes that watched him. He stood up, surprised at how wobbly his legs were at this moment. He thought he'd be able to just come right out and say it, but making the big reveal was astonishingly difficult. He could feel his heart, fluttering rapidly in his chest like a frightened bird. He held onto the back of his chair, steadying himself.

"Um…" he said, cursing his dry mouth. "Um…" This was the hardest thing he'd ever done. He'd faced criminals, bad guys galore, even revenge-minded billionaires. And none of them ever frightened him as much as the idea of actually telling. Actually opening up and saying the truth.

He'd thought about wearing more formal clothing for this. Maybe he'd appear….better…in a three-piece suit with tie. But then he figured, No, I am what I am, and changing my clothing won't make a difference.

He braced himself by figuring it was probably an ill-kept secret by now anyway. Even his friends….What had she said? "The quick exits…the lame excuses…" Probably everyone he'd met knew there was something funny about him. But half-known, gossiped conjectures were one thing; it was different to hear it confirmed from the subject's own lips.

He hoped he'd feel better after he told. It was hard to keep a secret. Especially one like this. It weighed on the soul, shattered his relationships. Everything else was subsumed in the need to conceal his secret. If he told, things would be very different. No more secrets, no more lies.

Somehow, he gathered his courage. It's time. Do it now. He took a deep breath, stood straighter. He nodded (almost to himself), and made the choice to speak.

"My name is Perry…" A pause. "And I'm an alcoholic."