It’s late now, and we’re only five hours from the sun’s peek. I’m used to smelling like cigarettes, and I look cheap in my jacket when I stand outside kicking a beer can in the parking lot. I haven’t been touched in over a year now, and the last time was that 45 year old Missed Connections mother with a smoker’s rasp. Flem and cum make a confused gargle.
It doesn’t say “gay bar,” with a sign or anything, it’s a feeling in the air. That’s if you ignore the glam smell and the Benatar blasting on the TV screens. There’s always TV screens.
I don’t care for any of the holidays, which is why I spend them in absences like this. This is the closest to the vein we get, here in these bars, all of the like-minded show up to ignore the hatred outside. Rain, sleet, if i’m not here I miss that urine emanating from the one working urinal too close to the door too close to the dated cigarette vending machine. I stay out here late at night to avoid the casinos, where my bitch wife is at. Of course she’s a bitch, of course she gambles. Gambling away her good years, my good money.
The bartender has got that lack of a grin that gives this place some gumption, some evidence that Hell still reigns on the outside, that this establishment is complicit in merry-making, that we’ve still got the animal left in us. You’d expect more from a place like this on a Tuesday night. Just a gay couple and their fat friend-girl. I’m not feeling social enough yet to try and drag them through a line of drunk questioning, I don’t even have it in me to entertain myself. Half-priced top shelf liquor – this place should be a hotbed. Maybe it was back when, a bar like this would have done well in the pit of Sodom. Instead it’s sallow and domesticated, free of the erection ego, dead like the rest of the country.
In a fit of inspiration I try to converse with the group. They’re older up close, talking big game of the past when life was eminent. Reminisce, that’s all we do at this age. We have nothing left to squander, no experiences left in this descent into dark corners. So, I listen. I know how to look captivated. I rest my chin on my fist, I look doe-eyed, I can even bring about a tear if the story needs it. I should’ve gone into play-acting.
I tune out like I always do eventually, I’ve got nothing to add. I had no real glory days — I was blessed with a dead life early. I’ve never escaped the trap of expectations. I’m steel wool for the dirt, the shit that lines the sink when you let your kids wash the dishes. I couldn’t be a metaphor if I tried. I’ll always be behind the wall, stuck in two dimensions.
These walls are mute from years of occurrence, the outer arguably dirtier than both bathrooms, locks unfixed on the doors, grout cum grain graffiti stickered blowdryer. Time may as well not exist here, it’s another fixture along with the lights, blinking ten years replaced then another ten, colors unchanged from Christmas. Inhibitions buried under late-night waitress bag eyes maple syrup waft on her uniform collar, she was probably a great singer when she was in High School. I wonder if i’m lucky being the first person she saw when she walked in the door. Jacket on and it’s not cold outside.
There’s a recession going on, a spreading wildfire, that’s what the TV tells me while she attempts to cry into my shoulder. She sounds like she’s choking on her tongue when I feel the eyeliner run onto my neck. I’m holding her and i’m watching HD enhanced trailer park dicks cry about a missing child. The way their mouths move I swear I can hear them talk on mute. This woman could be my daughter.
She looks up at me from the lowered window of her minivan. I don’t deserved to be thanked, i’m silent enough to sound like i’m listening. She thinks more tips would make her life better. I have nothing against people with money, they seem to have all the answers.
Bless the rich, and bless me. God bless me. One day the war will be over.