I’m here again. I can only stare up at the street light for so long, until I have to stagger back and find my place on the curb. I sit down heavy, elbows to knees, head in hands . . . it’s a strange place we find ourselves sometimes.
God damn, I don’t want to wake up tomorrow.
Where did all this weakness come from? I look around me and see how everyone fills their lives with things. Things to take the place of what we feel, voids never filled with one thing after another. Suddenly, we find ourselves tethered to these things and life seems too hard to walk away from, so we continue to find things and eventually these things begin to define us. How much is your house worth? What kind of car do you drive? Are your kids going to the best school, do you have a garage full of tools? Is that the newest smartphone? What would it take to motivate you to walk away from all this? How could you? You need these things. WE need these things. They are all that matter. They are us and you are me.
And all the pacifists with their pacifiers, in their own minds, stand tall among the masses. Preaching their self righteous, self fulfilling propaganda to the lesser, the weak minded, those who just want to believe in something. Preying on those who can’t stand on their own, eagerly stepping in, crutching their questions, taking on their pain, living off others in a way as to not have to live themselves.
It’s a hell of a lot easier that way.
Do you remember?
I said, do you remember?
I squeeze my eyes closed as tight as I can in hopes the question will go away.
Do you remember?
This is never going to stop you know.
“It has to, nothing lasts forever.”
Fuck you and your piece rate, we still got two hours till last call. God damn, I’m drinking like there’s no tomorrow and I’m holding my breath because any minute now the Bulls game is gonna be interrupted by a breaking CNN news bulletin that “yes indeed friends, it is official, tomorrow, will never come.”
This is it. . . now. . . right now, it’s all you have. Nothing is waiting for you, take this shit . . . grab it . . . squeeze it . . . ‘cause that’s all there is.
“What is the . . . how do you say? Score?”
Out of the corner of my eye a glass finds its place on the bar next to me and a stool scratches its way across the floor . . . a little too far back . . . then scratching just so much forward . . .
It was bound to happen. Never fails, I sit here, quiet, keeping to myself, never bothering anybody . . . but every fucking time, the weirdest fucking outcast in the bar always somehow finds his way over to me. And for some reason, he always feels we have something to talk about.
“In my country it is . . . how do you say . . . ?
Ahhh fuck. Are you kidding me? How the fuck did this guy end up here? And why, why does he think it is necessary to talk to me? I don’t ask for much from life. Just the simple things. And the simplest of all things, to me, is to be just left the hell alone.
“Ahh, the lager is of a fine age this evening. Perfectly blended in a harmony of barley and hops . . . and how do you say . . . frosty mug sensation.”
Shit . . . come on . . .
“And the garrel’s, I luv de’ garrel’s. That one over there, look at her . . . I think she wants me. What do you think?”
“Umm, I don’t know, go talk to her. See if she’s interested.”
Suddenly, this guy’s lips pierce, cheek bones rise, eyes turn to fire . . .
“Bullsheet! I don’t talk to her, she will talk to me. That is the way it is in my country. I will not go out of my way for any garrel, she will come to me, you will see.”
Front door slams . . .
“Mother Fuckers, where’s the bitches and where’s the fucking brew!?”
Yeah, this guy is definitely headed my way . . .
“Aww shit, here we go. Ma’ man, right over here. And my other brother pedro. What the fuck’s up esse?”
I fucking knew it. What did I say? Never fails. Every God Damn time . . .
“If I had known you’d pricks be in here, I’d never even opened the god damned door. Fucking karma brother, fucking karma. Talk about some bad shit, I got some bad shit to tell you all about. Might bite me in the ass someday, maybe not . . . fuck it.”
Bartender shoots a glance our way. There’s something at work in there, wheels turning, hamster feverishly running on its wheel . . .
“Do you want a drink? Both of you, even your mexicano friend here. I’m buying . . . Fuck it!”
“I am not Mexican my friend. I am from a tiny village on the outskirts of . . .”
I squeeze my glass a little, index finger tense from the days events . . . my thumb finds its way around the base, maybe the south side, depends who’s holding the compass I suppose.
“I say who’s drinking around here? This place fucking sucks! Ohh, you . . . YOU! You’re drinking, aren’t ya?”
Yeah, but not with you.
“BA’TENDA’, get this mother fucker right ova’ heau’, another cocktail.”
“Thanks brother but I’m good. Maybe later, huh?”
“What!!?? Fuck that. I’m buying you a drink. Like it, love it, leave it, drink it. Don’t matter.”
“Alright god damn it, who the fuck pissed all over the floor?”
The swinging door swings twice, second time bouncing off the shoulder of some big ass, shaved head government conspiracy slinging good ol’ boy from the greater Midwest.
“That’s right, one of you pricks felt it necessary to pee all over the men’s room floor. And you know what, I don’t appreciate it very much. Somebody has to clean that shit up, and you know what, that somebody is me.”
Man, I haven’t pissed since I’ve been here . . .
You think you can walk away from all this? Think again my friend. I am here and I will not go away.
FUCK . . . LEAVE ME ALONE . . .
There’s a little bit of a slow dance in here. Not quite right but not quite wrong. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this before. Nothing, nothing leads to anything, but something is leading me here . . .
“They have the, what do you say . . . juke’ box?”
“It’s over there.”
A strange swagger accompanies my foreign friend, not quite Texas . . . but a far cry from Mexico . . .
“Well FUCK! I guess I’ll just smile on my way and clean up everyone’s PISS!”
Did that guy just punch the wall?
“No fuckin’ metal. This place is bull ‘sheet!”
“I am mad. This is how you know me, pissed off, no metal. Springsteen . . . Dixie Chicks . . . Van fucking Morrison . . . BULLSHEET!!”
“And what’s this all about? Somebody breaks a fucking glass and then just leaves it? Sure. Fine. Walk away. That big dumb hillbilly will clean it up . . . FUCK IT, why not?”
“There is no Maiden, no Priest. No Ronnie James Dio . . .”
“Dude, they have Styx . . . play “Come Sail Away.”
“Are you kidding me?? Come Sail Away . . . please go away. Fucking Slayer. FUCKING SLAYER!!”
The bartender notices something brewing near the back of the bar. Three faces in the dark. Back there . . . there . . . something is worth talking about . . .
“Damn you people! I told you never to come back in here.”
They remember, why can’t you?
A wet towel smacks the bar, bottles fall to the floor . . .
“Go clean the fucking bathroom. That’s all you gotta do. Simple as that. Don’t come out here hassling my patrons talking about piss on the floor . . .”
“Do you like metal?”
“. . . and it’s a bar. Glass on the floor equals pick it the fuck up. How hard is that? If you weren’t my brother I’d throw your ass out in the fucking snow. Now grab that fucking mop with both hands and go clean the shit out of that bathroom.”
“You know, metal. Iron Maiden . . . Slayer . . . fucking OZZY!”
Something begins to turn.
I’ve got your space. You think something is going to shine here? Better think again. ‘Cause I’ve seen your light, felt the warmth, and nothing is going to reach me here. It’s all cause and effect here. Do you really think you’re ready to peel back these layers? Aren’t you afraid you might find something that might touch you?
This is not right.
This is not the answer.
I’m done with all this. The pretending, the tenderness, the plastic façade shaped in your honor. There’s nothing holy rolling here . . .
“I’ll clean this shit. Fuck it. Nobody else gives a shit, so why should I?”
“You know, old metal . . . real music.”
Where did that one guy go?
“Shit! My own fucking brother is against me. Ex wife, auditor, there’s not enough lavender candles in the world to save me . . .”
“Do you like coffee or tea?”
“Coffee or tea?”
“Can I get another drink? Captain and diet.”
EH, EH, EH, EHH . . .
God forsaken alarm clock. I just want to sleep.
EH, EH, EH . . .
ALRIGHT! Shit. I’m up. I’m up.
I wake twenty minutes later, drenched in sweat, slowly peeling my face from the mattress. Something’s not right. Something is different.
As I roll over, a sharp pain rips its way through my shoulder and down my side. Something cold and sticky touches my leg. A familiar pounding in my head reminds me of last night. Nostrils caked with smoke resin . . . God Damn . . . I think I’m still drunk.
There’s no way I can go to work today.
“You’re late. Punch in and get your ass on the line.”
“One more tardy and you’re on probation. Keep screwing up and you will find yourself unemployed so fast, your head will spin.”
It’s spinning right now . . .
“Why are you still standing here? I’m done. Get to work. And don’t forget, crew meeting at four o’clock.”