Damn it! There is a black thing inside an ice cube in her drink, a vodka soda. How did I not see it? Sh**, is it a baby cockroach? She hasn't noticed, yet. She's quite happy sucking on her straw. My hand swoops down like a bird of prey and snatches the tumbler from the bar.
Hey! she says, I wasn't finished with that.
Oh, sorry! I say, rifling her a fresh vodka over clear and pristine cubes.
This one is on me.
And I fire the cryogenic preserved horror down the drain, whatever it was, banished to the underworld of rotting bar pipes jammed with the fossils of dead limes and massacred cherries, rusted by soda deposits, carbons and sugars, and old straws from where lips once met the pleasure.
Tag -- What is it with the type who tags walls inside a bar? As if your stupid scribble means anything. The pleasure is mine, painting over it, as your dumb tag vanishes back to nothing.
Breathe Easy -- The smoking room is sealed but for an old fan extractor wheezing. I like the smokers. They are a cult of resistors in the age of healthy tyranny. Some squat in there for hours on mangled old stools. Animated talk and bellyache laughter spotted through the window. I watch as if it were a silent movie. The non-smokers in the main room, they don't seem as happy. But they might live longer to buy another cocktail.
Occasionally, the smokers stampede for the door. A fight has broken out or a scary psycho has wandered in off the street looking for a light in the darkness. Last week, a delinquent grabbed the fire extinguisher, retardant everywhere. Smokers choked and coughed, spluttered and cursed, someone said, Breathing in that stuff is really bad for you. The old extractor fan wheezed worse than ever.
Life sentence -- I ask myself, a quarter-century tending bar, is that some kind of failed life? Someone said, bartending is the lowest rung of celebrity but I don't see anyone asking me for an autograph. What are the pluses? A four-day week, cash in hand, can get drunk on the job, meet lots of people, don't get to be awakened by an alarm clock at 7 a.m. and get to do errands during the day when the rest of the populace is at work in cubicles or on campuses or whatever they call those happy utopias tech people are shuttled to.
The most boring man in the world came in. His voice box plays monotone only.
"Roger says he's been working up to getting the house painted but May considers that he fix the garage door first as Peter will be coming home soon and the idea of the door being off the hinges is something she doesn't like so she asked him to go to Home Depot to get the screws but he brought back the wrong type and had to go back and that's Roger for you, always getting it wrong, so says Jim, who has known Roger for the longest time and Jim says that he must fix the door first before painting as May prefers to have things fixed or she gets..."
"I don't know any of these people," I interrupt.
I've known the most boring man in the world for fifteen years, and I have never seen him with another human being.
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