Shockley is a friend of Jack's; they're old drinking buddies who also worked together at the university. Al calls martinis "martians." Al's family has money and when Jack was strugglig financially, Al usually bought the drinks. Jack feels he owes a lot to Al, but also feels conflicted because Al was a big part of Jack's days of heavy drinking. When both men decide to quit drinking they greet each other on the phone or in person by saying "You dry?" and reminisce about things they used to do, including bad things that happened as a result of their drinking. Al helps Jack get the caretaker position so he can finish writing his play and get back on track professionally.