Thursdays In The Valley – Chapter 1

How many nights have I walked these streets, boots clunking against the pavement, snow crunching every few feet. Thoughts in my head shattered by the glance of a passer by. Each of us wondering what reason could the other possibly have to be out on a night like this.

If only they knew.

A cross street stops me as I suddenly recognize the soft glow and low rumbling tempo of some long forgotten Springsteen song. At least I thought it had been forgotten, until now.

I step off a curb and barely keep my balance against the ice beneath me, cleverly hidden by a fresh dusting of virgin snow. The walk is familiar to me, narrow street . . . few cars . . . a five stair ascent . . . the door which opens out instead of conveniently inward. Always warm . . . and that smell, stale cigarettes and even staler booze. Who could resist? Or forget. And why would they?

I mosey on up to the bar, yup, mosey, I always wanted to say that. And now that I have, I have no idea why. Anyway, there I am at the bar, I push aside a stool as I have no desire to sit, at least not yet. The bartender looks my way, nods and then proceeds to completely ignore me. A little game he likes to play, to always remind you he is in control here, nothing shall transpire in his establishment unless he first sets the ball rolling. His need to over compensate this control behavior leads me to wonder if he . . .

“I thought I told you never to come back in here?”

Control . . .

“Umm, yeah, you did, but I thought maybe you had changed your mind by now. It’s been two days. People change.”

“Hang on a second. KENNY! watch the bar, I’ll be right back. Come with me.”

Shit, what’s this all about? I follow him down a hallway to a back room filled with empty beer boxes, each labeled crudely with a specific month and year. This Must be his office.

“Sit down jag off.”

“Well, since you put it so nicely…”

“Look, that shit that happened the other night, not a big deal. I can get over that. Problem is, I’ve been hearing some pretty twisted shit about you and I’m not liking what I’m hearing. I don’t need your kind in here.”

“Man, I’ve been coming in here almost every night for the last two years, why the fuck is there suddenly a problem?”

‘What are you talking about?”

“What do mean?”

“I work here seven nights a week, three hundred sixty five and I have never seen you in here before the other night.”

“Man, I don’t know what you have been smoking but I moved out here almost two years ago and I’ve been in here all the time. There’s been a couple nights you and me got into some pretty deep conversation. Remember that chick from the Circle K you were talking to me about last week?”

“Oh shit, that’s you?”

“Umm, yeah, what’s wrong with you man?”

“I don’t know, fuck. I think it’s these new meds they got me on. It’s fucking me all up. Don’t tell anybody about this, alright?”

“Yeah man, no problem. Just try to lighten up a little, huh? You’re fucking tense.”

“Alright, it’s cool, what are ya drinkin’?”

“Captain and diet.”

“That I remember, all that fucking rum you drink, the diet pop isn’t going to save you.”

“Calories brother, calories.”

It’s funny how we try to see things differently through a four dollar glass of something. A lot of it just comes down to time. And time is not on my side, not anymore.

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