by Mike Wachs
The din of bullshit filled the bar. Planes of late afternoon light leaked across the room from windows up high, obscuring an old matinee on the TV in a corner. He let out a sigh to remind himself he was breathing.
The Eagles scored on an opposite screen. Fuck yeahs, claps, mugs hitting shellacked wood. He closed his eyes.
Someone stumbled into his back and his eyelids peeled open. Gauzy vision returned with dilating pupils. Rosie leaned on the bar, hands as pedestal for the ugly mug she owned. Her mouth twisted, trying to get at a beer nut in some molar. He squinted, trying to X-ray what lay beneath that over-sized t-shirt: mammaries like days-old mylar balloons and a wide, formless stomach which gave no indication of there ever being any enviable hips; her legs plump and dimpled. How long must have it been since this cunt was fucked? Even naked, she kept her dingy tennis shoes and ankle socks.
“Another one, please,” he said, trying to wash away his gross fantasy.
Rosie moved out of frame and then back. She was still wearing just shoes. The beer tasted like brass.
People cursed at the screen.
“Jesus H,” Duck said.
“First game of the season, Duck.”
“Fuck you, Sammy. It’s the second game of the season.”
“Jesus H,” he thought to himself.
The heroes on his TV set were celebrating their bounty and kissing bodiced women. He left to take a piss.
“Sammy, why you always piss in the stall?”
“Because I got a small prick, Richie.”
“Fuck that. I’ve seen your prick.”
“I don’t fucking know then.”
“Hey, come out here.”
“Richie, I’m still pissing.”
“I’ll be out here. Ah, Christ.” Richie had pissed on his shoe.
“I fucked Rosie.”
Sammy couldn’t help but be disappointed. They were two shits, but this seemed like a new low.
“You want a congratulations? Because, honestly, that’s fucking disgusting. Not to shit on your shit or anything. Nice work, Rich.”
Richie swung his mouth to one side, arched his eyebrows, and walked out. Sammy finished zipping up and followed.
Richie already had one elbow on the bar and was talking with Rosie. Rosie was fucking Richie. She was still wearing those shoes.
Sammy got back to his beer and wordlessly reprimanded Richie while John Madden pontificated on Dante Culpepper.
“You fucking fuck!” People half-turned away from the game. “Motherfucker!”
“Bobby! Don’t hit the fucking machine you fucking maniac!”
“The ball’s fucking broken, Rosie!”
“The ball’s not fucking broken!”
Bobby sucked at Golden Tee but he had found out about a tournament with fifteen thousand and a set of real clubs as the grand prize and that was that.
Sammy arched his head and wanted to see something a little good. The tin ceiling was tobacco-stained.
Sammy broke out the door because he felt like he was going to puke or pass out or hyperventilate. He doubled over to get his breath back. He spat to get the taste out of his mouth. The brass stayed. The Lite stayed. The Winstons stayed. Everything was blurry. A building, a car, a person.
He walked a block over and took the bus south. The mullato driver had a pencil mustache that woke him up. “How do you do?” He had gloves and impeccable posture.
Sammy dropped his fare silently, headed to the back and grabbed a sideways seat. The bus rumbled along and gave him a hard-on. He looked around to see who could be undressed. A baby mama made eyes straight across the aisle. Her toddler clenched at a braid while the end of a piercing rolled across her glossed lip. Neither of them flinched. Her eyes moved down to his crotch and he practically came. The bus was empty. They fucked standing up, holding on to the metal bars overhead for support. The kid was gone. His gut was gone. The mullato was driving carefree to nowhere, an overwhelming glow in front of the windshield.
The bus hissed to a stop. The kid was there. The gut was there. She stood up and walked out the doors. His dick went limp.
Sammy stayed on for fifteen more minutes and then got out for no reason.
A fat white kid in a puffy jacket jabbered on to his two black friends about the Sixers on the corner. Sammy hated him. They started yelling back. He hated them, too.
Lights started to turn on. Crowds huddled around food trucks. Neon from not-dead-yet electronics stores burnt the retinas of walkers. A dotted arrow pointed to the door of the Liberty Mini Market.
The bell on a string rang as Sammy sidestepped through the narrow entrance. It smelled like corrugated cardboard and curry. He passed by a yellow cone on the ground and his sole snagged on its haphazard cleanup. While he browsed, he heard background clamor of a family and some movie he would never watch.
He headed to the counter. The Paki-Indian-Whatever continued reading his magazine, one hand resting on top of a dirty polo that didn’t finish covering his stomach.
“Dollar ninety nine,” the man announced in a foreign monotone.
Sammy clutched the Mexican Coke by its neck and struck him across the jaw. The man took it in stride, disoriented but not desperate. He raised his head and spat a tooth and some blood across the counter onto Sammy’s checked wool.
The sounds from the back continued. Sammy flitted his eye between the man and the door. The man was not stalling. He finished unloading the till and reached across the divide. Sammy backhanded his forehead with the bottle as the naugahyde bank pouch came across. The man fell off his perch.
Sammy stuffed the package in the front of his waist, walked out, wrapped his shirt around the bottle and shattered it into the trash can. No one looked at him. He caught a bus back. No one stopped him.
Mike Wachs doesn’t know what job he should do. He is taking suggestions.
mike.wachs [at] gmail.com