The Old Guy Sat At The Bar

Jason pulled back the bar stool, and had a seat. The bartender quickly found him, and asked what he wanted to drink.

“Seven and Seven,” Jason quietly, politely asked.

The bartender wandered off to mix his drink, and the old man sitting at the bar, in the chair next to Jason smacked his empty glass on the shiny hardwood surface. “Oh, yeah! That’s good stuff.”

Jason thought of moving. He didn’t want to sit next to anyone loud, or anyone in a group. Before he could, the bartender returned with his drink, “Seven and Seven,” he placed the drink on a tiny napkin in front of Jason, then turned to the old man, “You want another round?”

The old man didn’t speak, he smiled and nodded yes, and the bartender wandered off again.

The old man looked through Jason. He had those kind of eyes, the ones that see past all the lies, the games, the masks people put on every day. The ones that see your soul, and know the truth of who and what you are.

“Had a fight with your girl, did you?” Jason started to get up, but the old man kept talking, “Nobody won, did they?”

Jason stayed on his stool, and stared back at the old man. He’d always thought he was a good judge of character, but when he looked at the old guy, he saw no lies, no masks. He saw the face and eyes of someone who’d lived live. Someone who’d seen life. Someone who knew.

“Yeah. We had a fight.”

The old guy took a deep breath. “Money?”

Jason nodded.

“Yeah. It’s always money, ain’t it?” Jason picked up his drink, and chugged half of it down. “So, you’re gonna drown it all, ain’t ya?”

Jason let his drink glass reconnect to the bar with a loud smack. “Yep. We just broke up.” He picked up his drink, and drained it, then smacked the glass down again. “And I’m gonna forget all about her!”

The old guy laughed. “Gonna let a fight about money destroy love and happiness?” He shook his head. “Yep. You’re an idiot.”

Jason, jaw dropped and he stood up, “What!”

“Sit down, and shut up. And maybe I can talk you out of making the same stupid mistake I made when I was young and full of hormones, and emotions, and pride, just like you are now.”

Jason couldn’t help himself. He sat down.

The bartender plunked new drinks in front of them both. The old man stared at his. “See,” he took a long chug. “I was in love once.”

“Hasn’t everyone?”

“Yeah.” The old guy finished his drink. “Yeah, everyone has.” He laughed. “But the smart ones stay in love.”

Jason shook his head. “You don’t know what she said, what she did.”

“I don’t need to.” He didn’t smile. There was something in his eyes, some memory, some regret, and perhaps a wish he could go back in time. “I was in love once.”

“What happened?”

“We had a fight.” He waved at the bartender, “Another round for us, Bill.” Then he shook his head, and stared at the reflections of light in the polished wood of the bar. “We had a stupid fight.”

Both men sat, waiting for their drinks. When they arrived, the old guy wrapped a hand around his glass, but didn’t lift it. Jason watched him stare into the liquid swirling in the glass. “I was too young, too stubborn, too idealistic.” Jason stared at his own glass. “I hadn’t figured out the truth. And I didn’t want to know the truth.”

“The truth?” Jason stared at his drink, picked it up, and took a swallow. He felt the familiar burn of the alcohol in his throat, and the warmth in his stomach.

The old man told him the truth, “She said a lot of things about you, didn’t she.” Jason nodded. “She called you irresponsible. She called you immature. She told you to grow up.”

Jason nodded, “Yeah. Something like that.”

“Hurt, didn’t it.”

“Hell yeah.” Jason took another swallow. “And she knew it. She let me have it with both barrels.” He looked at the old guy, “Why should I put up with that? That’s it, you know. We’re done.”

Jason thought the old man wanted to cry, but maybe the old guy had forgotten how. “What do you know about fights? About couples?” He looked around the bar, Jason did the same. “You know how many couples break up these days?”

Jason shook his head.

“Damn near all of ‘em.” The old guy took a chug of his drink. “Damn near all of ‘em.” He stared into his drink again, “And nobody stays married forever anymore.” Jason stared at his drink, and the old guy asked, “How long were your parents married?”

“Still are.”

“How long?”

Jason shrugged. “Twenty-five, twenty-six years? I don’t really know.”

“Have you ever wondered how they stay married?”

“No.” Jason took another swallow. “Never thought about that?”

“So. How do you think they stay married?” Jason sat silently. He didn’t have an answer. He’d never really thought about it. “Did they ever fight?”

Jason remembered the nights he heard them screaming at each other. The nights he heard the front door slam as his father left. The night his mother cried herself to sleep, and his father came home, and slept on the sofa. “Yeah. They did.”

“Why did they stay together?”

He didn’t have an answer. He’d never thought about it.

“You like music, right?”

“Yeah. A good band is good. But they always break up.”

“All of them?”

“No. Not all of them.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not the same thing, you know. It’s not.”

The old man finished off his drink. “Bill. I’m gonna need another.”

“You’re gonna need a cab.”

“Yeah. That too.”

“Let me know when, and I’ll call one.”

The old guy nodded, and resumed his conversation with Jason. “Why isn’t it the same?”

“Bands and couples. They’re not the same.”

“Now you just think about that a bit. And then think about how they are the same.” Jason shook his head. “Don’t band members fight?”

“Yeah, but it’s over a band. It’s not like when a couple has a fight.”

“You saying the band members aren’t family?” Jason stared into his drink. His mind struggled to make sense of the old guy’s words. “You saying families don’t have fights and break up, just like bands do? You saying they stick together for fame and money, and not because they’re a family?”

The old guy shook his head, and tipped his drink again. “I was just like you. Thought fights weren’t supposed to happen to people in love. To friends.” He gently placed his glass on the bar. “I was so fuckin’ stupid.”

He leaned toward Jason, “Dude. Fights happen. You put two people together, and sooner or later, fights happen.” He put his hand on Jason’s shoulder. “The smart ones figure that out, and learn to get past the fights.”

He remembered his parents, the morning after the fights. They didn’t act like nothing happened. They talked. Quietly. They apologized to each other. And their lives went on. Together.

“Fights happen. It’s not an ideal world. Not a dream world.” The old guy stared at his empty glass. “I used to love her. Probably still do. Had a fight with her. About money.” He took a deep breath, then slowly let it out. “I’ve been alone since then.” He looked at Jason. “She was my girl. My one chance at love. My one chance at being happy.” They guy looked at the floor. “And I fucked it up. Me, and my pride. She’d hurt me in that fight. And I couldn’t get over it.” He took another deep breath. “I couldn’t let it go.”

Jason said nothing. What was there to say?

The old guy smiled. “If you’ve got any brain cells in that head of yours, well. You’ll figure the rest out.”

Jason excused himself. He went to the quiet hallway outside the restrooms, where the pay phones were, pulled out his smart phone, swallowed his pride, and called her.

The old guy sat at the bar, and smiled. “I’m gonna need another one, Bill.”

#FinishThatThought 38 : Chickens Have Lips

“Chickens have lips,” I observed, staring at the video feed from the rover. “At least on this planet.” I studied the creature in the video. It looked just like a chicken from the history books of Old Earth. Except it had lips, and not a beak.

“Hey! Herry! Look at this!” I motioned Harry over. “The rover found a life form.”

Herry stared at the feel. “What the hell is that?”

“Looks like a chicken.”

“‘Cept it has lips.” He studied the image. “They look just like Bellas.”

I studied them a bit. They did look like Bellas. “I’m going to have the rover follow it. See where it goes.”

“Good idea. Maybe it’ll lead us to more chickens with lips”

It did. That chicken walked a couple of miles, arriving at veritable chickens with lips city. Chickens were everywhere. Moving in organized patterns, like they were walking on sidewalks. They congregated in small groups of two, three or four. The members in the groups were talking to each other. That was my guess, since their lips were moving, and they kept looking at each other, flapping their wings.

They ignored the rover.

I had the rover follow a group of three chickens. They made a right turn around a rock, and the scenery changed, becoming a row of different sized rock structures. I noticed rock structures looked like small, stone houses, with no windows, or doors. Each structure had an opening. The three chickens turned into one of them. I sent the rover in after them.

“Son-of-a-bitch.”

Herry heard. “What?”

“The chickens just stopped in a bar for drinks.”

“What?”

He started at the video from the rover. “What?”

It was a bar, complete with bar stools. A dozen chickens sat on the stools, facing a long rock bar. Every so often, a chicken flexed its wings, picked up a stone glass, and had a drink of whatever it contained.
“Well.” Herry shook his head. “This is certainly going to wake up the fanatics, isn’t it.”

I nodded, “I wonder how they’ll explain intelligent chickens?”

“Probably will call them demons, and say we should stay away from them, or wipe them out.” He was right. As a human from Old Earth, I knew we humans had a nasty habit of destroying anything we couldn’t understand. “Probably wipe them out.”

I looked at the chickens on the screen, and tried to think of them as lunch. I almost pulled it off. But it was too disturbing to think of eating chicken lip sandwiches.

424 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 38 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Given I’m the Judge this week, my entry is ineligible. But it was fun to write. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

#MidWeekBluesBuster : Week 8 – Living Room

Cherie was one of those women guys just go stupid around. Big, blue eyes, dark red, almost brunette hair, breasts that were just the right size, and an ass that you just had to watch as she walked away. She was my greatest mistake. I’ll never forget her. And I’ll never blame her for the way she was, the things she did. She was a work of art, a goddess to behold, to hold, to kiss, to sleep with. And she was absolutely heartless.

I learned she had each of us scheduled into her life. Nick on Monday, Tom on Tuesday, Frank on Wednesday, Robert, Steve and Jim on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I was her Sunday plaything.

I met her on a Sunday morning, at church of all places. She came in that first Sunday, and sat next to me. “I’m looking for a church home,” she explained.

“You are always welcome here,” With all the empty spaces on the other pews, I should have known something was wrong when she singled me out to sit next to.

Sunday after Sunday she showed up, and she sat next to me. After a month people began to talk about her, and about how she was corrupting me. “Do you see the way she dresses? That hussy!” I didn’t care. I relished having a pretty girl sit next to me. And Cherie was gorgeous. Everything she wore exhibited her curves, and they were the best curves I’d ever seen.

After two months, she asked me to lunch. Of course I said yes, why would I have said anything else? Lunch after Church, with a hot chick? It was a dream come true. And the rumors at church took off, expanding, “They’re having an affair! She’s sleeping with him now!”

After the third month, she asked me to come watch the football game at her house, in her Living Room, on her big screen TV. “I don’t want to watch the game alone,” she declared, as she took my hands in hers, lacing her fingers through mine.

When we got to her house, we sat down in her Living Room, and she turned on the game. But, I never saw a single play. She got naked, and then got me naked, and then the sex started. Sundays became filled with sex. In the morning, before church, in the afternoon, watching a game, or a race, or whatever she put on the TV, then well into the night. “I just want to be loved,” she explained. “I need to feel loved. To know you love me. I need to feel alive. Make me feel alive.”

Hell, she gave me everything I wanted. Right there in her Living Room. Me, with a fantasy women like the ones you stare at in magazines, and on-line, and pray no one sees you staring. And there I was, every Sunday, having sex with a fantasy woman.

Until she grew tired of me, and replaced me with Harry. That’s when I realized how much I’d spent on her. Buying her anything she asked for.

When it was my turn to be thrown away, I wandered into a bar a few blocks from her house. That’s where I met Nick and Steve. They were there, drinking and telling stories of Cherie, waiting to see if another of her victims wandered in. And I did.

Now we’re a group of ten. Any day we should grow to eleven. Cherie’s still out there, collecting men, then throwing them away. We sit here once a week, at a set of tables, and we laugh about how stupid we were.

It’s like Tim Allen said once, “Breasts make men stupid.” Yep. No doubt about that. And if you add a good ass and blue eyes to the breasts, we don’t have a chance. Trust me on that. The ten of us are proof.

666 Words
@LurchMunster


Trying Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge again, and finding I had to cut oceans of words out of this one to get it under 700. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#MidWeekBluesBuster : Is This Love

I always liked Mexican food, and I especially liked Mexican drinks. That night, I needed to do something I liked. When I sat at the bar, I sat alone. Some crazy Latino music was playing in the background. I couldn’t understand a word of it. The bartender was singing right along with it as he sat chips and salsa on the bar in front of me. “Somethin’ to drink, Senor?”

I nodded, “Something big. With lots of Tequila.”

“For you, Senor, I have just the thing.”

He’d come back with a giant Margarita that had to weigh a couple of pounds. Plunked that sucker down in front of me, and then put two shot glasses of Cuervo Gold next to it. “The biggest drink we have, and lots of Tequila to go with it.” I handed him a $20. “If you need anything else, Senor, you just let me know.”

I sat there, eating chips and salsa, planning to get too drunk to drive anywhere. And doing anything I could so I wouldn’t cry. Not one damn tear. Hell, I’d stand in front of a truck on the highway before I shed one damn tear. I picked up my drink, “Here’s to you, bitch,” I mumbled, and took a long chug, clean up to where I got brain freeze.

The bartender walked back by, singing again, this time in English, “Is this love, is this love, is the love, is this love that I’m feeling?” And the song continued on.

“Yeah, baby. This is love.” I looked at my drink. It wasn’t going to be big enough.

I remembered that afternoon when I got home. She was gone. She’d left a note. All it said was “You don’t love me anymore.” I knew she was never coming back. For two years, we’d lived together, slept together, shopped together. I’d given her everything she’d ever asked for. And I loved every minute of that two years. I loved her. I loved having her around. I loved being able to hold her, touch her, kiss her.

And she was gone.

I’d never seen it coming. And I sat there, at the bar, listening to crappy Latino music, drinking straight shots of Tequila, and liters of Margaritas, wondering how she could abandon me like she had. How she could leave me.

Another song was playing in the background. Some kind of Spanish Love Ballad. The bartender walked by, heading to the couple halfway down the bar, singing right along with the song, “You don’t bring me flowers…”

Anymore…

And, God damn-it to hell, I cried. Because she been right. She’d become a prized possession. Something I could show off. A prize of some kind. I didn’t love her anymore. And I kept hearing her voice saying those words on that note, “You don’t love me anymore.”

And the bartender walked by, singing along with that crap music once again, “Cold. As. Ice. You’re cold as ice to me.”

I swore that night, I’d never fall in love again. That was 16 years ago. And I’ve kept my word since then. I’ve kept my word.

543 Words
@LurchMunster


This pile of words came out of me in response to the prompt for Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster challenge. Please go read all the other entries in the challenge. They’re better than mine. 🙂

There Was Something About That Woman That Made Me Uneasy

There was something about the woman that made me uneasy. Took me a few minutes, but I realized it was her eyes. They weren’t any special color. Just hazel. But there was something in the way she looked at me that rattled my nerves. They were empty. I mean, the kind of eyes that you look in and nothing looks back. No emotion. No life. Just nothing. Everybody’s got a look in their eyes. Anger. Frustration. Love. Pain. You name it. It’s in their eyes. But not hers. Her eyes were like blank sheets of paper. Not even any lines to write on.

I watched her as she walked around the bar. Moving from place to place. Looking like some kind of soulless bird of prey searching for food. I was thinking, “Damn. I ain’t going anywhere near her.” Now I gotta admit, I didn’t mind watching her. She was a work of art. Some of the best curves I ever seen. And if it hadn’t been for her eyes, I’d have gone after her. She was the best looking thing in the whole bar. By far.

But those eyes. Damn. One look at them, and I could hear air raid sirens going off. “Everybody, to the bomb shelters! Now!” Jesus, but those eyes were scary. You know that feeling you get when some guy’s pointing a sword right at you, and all you got’s a jewelry screwdriver to fight back with. Yeah. That kind of scary.

She hit a few guys up for drinks. Always walked away from ‘em. Until that last guy. He was all smiles. You know the type. “No woman can resist me! And I want one to play with tonight!” Gods, I hate them bastards. Give the rest of us bad names. “Oh, he’s a male. You know what they’re like.” Well. Mr. I’ve got what you want in my pants just kinda drifted over to her. Bought her a drink. Then another drink. They laughed. They talked. He put his hand on her thigh, and let it drift up. She didn’t stop him.

I figured, “They’re made for each other.” Sure enough. After an hour or so, they left. Together. Her clinging to his arm. With that playful look that says, “I’ve know what I want for desert.” And him, grinnin’, with that look that says, “Don’t you poor bastards wish you were me.”

Yep. They  left. And everybody knew where they were going. And what was gonna happen.

A few days later, the cops stopped by the bar. “Have you seen this guy?” They were asking everyone. Showing his picture. It was the same guy that had left with the woman with the blank eyes. “He’s been missing for two days now.” His friends were concerned. His employer was concerned. They’d called the cops. Filed a missing person report.

That was the last we heard. Until a few weeks later. It made all kinds of news. Was on CNN, right there over the bar. They’d found a mini-storage shed that had 24 male bodies in it. Stacked like cord-wood. No telling how long they’d been there. They’d been treated so they didn’t decay. Like they’d been embalmed or something. The story said this has been going on for years and years. Each body was someone that was missing, and never found. The missing reports went back 24 years. One each year. But never on the same day, or time of year. So there wasn’t a real pattern. And the missing were scattered over a 100 mile radius from the warehouse. Again, no real pattern.

But, checking the corpses, a pattern did appear. Each had severe damage to their central nervous system. As if they’d been severely shocked.

They never found the woman. But we all knew it was her that had done killed those men. We all described her to the cops. But they never found anyone matching the descriptions. All anyone could do was wait, and see if there was a 25th body someday.

All I could think was, “I knew that bitch was dangerous.”

This work was written in response to the prompt for Motivation Monday, hosted by Wakefield Mahon each week. I’m still writing. But I’m writing outside the word count limit rules of most challenges right now, so I’m not entering Flash Fiction challenges at this time. Seems I’m looking for something. Anyway. Please feel free to wander to the Motivation Monday site, and read the entries for this week. They are always good.