Tag Archives: bars

“Which One?”

They found the bar on Yelp, which all three had agreed never to tell anyone. It was just a few doors over from the restaurant, and the night hadn’t felt over yet.

After succumbing to the pull of a third round, she goaded her boyfriend with words and elbows to tell Sid the story of when they had watched a drunk girl fling herself at him. “Like I wasn’t even there.”

Neil dutifully ran it down, through the confused phone call the next day. “I let Carol answer. Short call.” They all laughed, loud enough that people at the bar looked over despite the throbbing bass. “My buddy Barry at work, when I told him, he had the best reaction. He was so mad at me for giving her my real number.”

Sid leaned forward, the sofa cushion sliding under him. “Why?”

Smirking, Carol said, “Barry’s a douche.”

“He thinks infidelity is inevitable.” Neil didn’t make it clear if he was issuing a correction or giving support. “And he thought I was doing it wrong. He was all, ‘Dude, what are you doing? You get a second phone, keep it in your car, only check the messages.’”

“Again, like I wasn’t even there.”

Shaking his head, Sid sat back on the couch to look more relaxed. “A second phone? Really? That gets found. Google Voice made that outdated.”

Carol nodded and pointed. “Yeah, totally. And anyway, you can set your phone to automatically delete or hide certain messages.”

Sid looked at her across her boyfriend. She turned away and sipped her Moscow Mule. They both knew they had been a little too ready with this information. He rubbed his thumb across the raised letters of his beer bottle. They could only hope Neil hadn’t noticed.

Neil nodded along to the Kanye song that had just started, without seeming to realize he was doing so. “Yeah, man. It would get found. That’s some Walter White bullshit right there.”

She insisted on paying when they closed the tab. At each red light during the drive home, Sid took out his phone and balanced in his hand. Each time he stopped himself from sending her a text.

The Regulars (part II)

(click here for part one)

Another Saturday night at McGinty’s. This time at least we had the pretense of celebrating the birthday of another esteemed patron at the bar. Although none of us could quite remember who this guy was or how we knew him. Jenny seemed to recall it was the college friend of someone she worked with two temp jobs ago. I didn’t really care – any excuse to leave the house and come here worked for me. I even wore a corduroy blazer to try to lure in a girl, only realizing once I had arrived that I had no idea why I thought that would be alluring. Was it something that came from the advice the fifty-something women who populated my office and told me what a catch I was? The bar had gotten warm after a couple of IPAs, so the coat had ended up crumpled on the floor. Still, I made sure to keep scanning the bar for prospects.

Mike, on the other hand, had spent the first part of the evening grousing about outsiders intruding on our turf, going into a full snarl whenever anyone had leaned around his sizable frame to try to get a bartender’s attention. He would have preferred to buy the bar and close it to the public so the three of us could drink there in peace.

As we continued to tease out scenarios of our intricate debate, a girl with a frilly purple shirt, black librarian glasses, and the stench of over-priced perfume giggled her way up to the bar. She seemed very outgoing, leaning in to our conversation without provocation. After a few moments, she wrinkled her nose and bore her teeth with disgust. “Why would you want to talk about hurting nine-year-olds?”

Mike locked his eyes on hers. “Why wouldn’t we?”

I leaned over a little, trying to get her up to speed while making sincere eye contact. “They’re attacking us. It’s self defense.”

“Why are nine-year-olds attacking you?” She shifted so her left foot was facing away from us, ready to bolt at any moment.

Mike sighed, exasperated that this needed explication. “I don’t know. Because we kidnapped their parents. And their little sisters, if they have any.”

“Oh.”

“What about their brothers? Why do they care more about sisters?” Jenny had slammed a few shots back to catch up and was already slurring.

Our librarian intruder persisted. “Are they attacking you all at once or one at a time?”

Before Jenny or I could say “all at once,” Mike roared, “One at a time? Shit, if it’s one at a time I’ll take all those fuckers down with one hand and smoke a joint with the other.” We were too busy laughing to notice the girl slink away. I hadn’t even caught her name.

The Regulars (part I)

“Nine-year-olds?”

“Yeah, nine-year-olds. How many?” Mike tapped his index finger on the bar, as if that would hasten my answer. He sat perched on the stool, hunched like a gargoyle, craning his ear so none of my response would be lost in the growing din of a Saturday night.

“I don’t know. Seven?”

“Seven? No way. You’re selling yourself short, brother. Seven? You could take at least twelve. At least. You’ve got a streak.”

Before I could inquire about my so-called streak, Jenny appeared between us, peeling a dark green scarf off her neck disgustedly. “Fuckin’ N train. Sometimes I really hate this city.”

Mike turned to her. “How many nine-year-olds could you take in a fight?”

“What, like a street brawl?”

“No, in a ring, Royal Rumble style. An infinite number of nine-year-olds swarm you. How many can you bring down they take you out?”

Jenny’s pupils rolled around her sockets. She slowly took off her black coat and draped it over the stool in front of her. She always had a cute way of sticking the tip of her tongue out the side of her mouth when she contemplated something. “Uhhhh… probably about thirteen.”

Mike slapped his hand down, causing the glasses on the bar to jump and clink. “Now we’re talkin’. Tommy here said seven.”

“Seven?” She raised an eyebrow at me accusingly.

I put my hands up, showing my palms. “I’m just saying, nine-year-olds can be pretty tenacious, and I got a bad knee.”

Mike shook his head forcefully, his tight shaggy curls knocking against each other. He pointed at one of his bushy black eyebrows. “You gotta think. They all come after you, but you take that first one out, bam, punch to the nose. When he drops, the rest of them are gonna pause. They take a step back. Then you take down two or three more before they even think to regroup, and it’s off to the races.”

Jenny sipped at the Jack and Coke the bartender had put in front of her. At this point, she didn’t even need to order it. “You could use the body of the first one as a club,” she mused. “Or maybe a shield.”

“See? Somebody’s thinkin’.”

(continued in part two)

Automatic Teller

The entranceway was a net, designed to capture the sunlight before it contaminated the pub inside. Kevin had forgotten that it was still daytime. He stutter-stepped as he pushed past the door and a wave of light crashed over him, splashing across the walls and floor and burning his heavily dilated eyes.

He waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the sun, then scanned the small foyer, past the dilapidated racks of free periodicals, until he found the ATM sitting in the corner to the left of the door through which he had just exited the bar. It looked like a tired old man, leaning up against the wall with its knees up against its chest. There was ribbed plastic tubing resembling arms on either side, bent up into L-shapes at what appeared to be the elbow, and its body was more of a boxy metal trash can with worn, rounded edges that were clearly intended to make it look sleek. It had a pixelated monitor in place of a swinging lid, with a numeric keypad goatee and two scars across its chin — one for consuming the cards, the other for dispensing cash. Presently, the monitor displayed a digitized face with a sardonic, bitmapped smile.

Kevin inserted his card into the appropriate slot/scar and punched in his secret code. A voice spoke: “Ten twen-ty.three. Let.me.guess — hYour birth-Day? Ha. Ha. Ver-ee oar-idgenal,” it said, with a mechanical inflection. Kevin took a step back, being careful to keep one foot by the machine in case someone tried to rob him. He looked around the room frantically, but couldn’t see anyone. “Wuh-who said that? H-how did you know?” he said.

“Ha. Of.course. Fuh-king tip.ee.cull. Seer-heously, did.you.hwant.some-one.to.steal-hyour.i-den-ti-ty Be-cuz hyou are just.ask-ing? for.it mis-ter,” the voice responded. Kevin looked down at the ATM display in bewilderment and noticed that it was rolling its pixel-cluster eyes at him. Its bitmapped mouth was dropped open in disgust. Once it noticed him staring, it returned to its default expression of indifference. “Sorry,” it said. “hWould you like.to.make. A-deposit, or-A. hwith-drawal.”

“Uhh…withdrawl, please?” Kevin responded nervously.

“Let me-guess,” responded the machine. “hYou did-not re-uh-lies that.it-was.a cash. only-bar. Good-fuh.king-job.dumb-ass. En-ee way.how-much-would. hYou. like?”

“I’ll take eighty, please.”

“Ay-tee. Doll-ers? Gee-zus. Christ.man. How much.did-hyou drink?”

“I haven’t had anything yet. Just give me the cash!” At this point, Kevin was frustrated. Why couldn’t he just got his cash and be gone? He had always hated artificial intelligent, ever since the soda machine at work had started giving him Diet Coke “for his own good.”

The machine let out an exasperated digital sigh. “All. rite-man. Calm. down. Don’t have-a. cow. I’m-just. Try-ing.to.help. hOne-moment.please.” Kevin listened to the harddrive whirring inside and felt a sudden urge to rip it out and smash it on the street.

After about a minute, he heard gears begin to grind, and a taped-together five-dollar bill came out of the slot. Kevin waited for a few more seconds, but nothing followed, and soon the digitized emoticon face had disappeared. He smacked the machine on the side of its boxy head and yelled, “Hey! Where’s the rest of my money?”

The digital face returned with a blip wearing a straight expression. “Sar-ee, bud.ee. I’ve seen-hyour. Cred.it.Card-bill this month. I’m-just. Try.ing.to-help.Good!bye.”

Kevin stormed back into the bar, ordered a shot of whiskey, and left without giving the bartender a tip.