Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Door in the Desert***

The bartender pulled out his trusty bar bat, giving the slumping figure a tap on the shoulder.
“You can’t stay here mister, it’s time to close.” He pushed him again.
“I ain’t got to go get Eddy do I?.
The slumping figure jolted up. “I’m Jack and I’m back.”
“Well all right Jack, but you gotta go.”
“What time is it?” as though he were actually late for something.
“ It’s time to go Jack and that’s all we got to say.”
Jack, the drunk smart ass lifted his head, smiling at the bartender. “Would that be the ‘Royal “we?” he asked. The bartender put both elbows on the bar and pointed a stubby, bleached finger, holding the bat, at Jack.
“That’d just be you Jack, said the bartender.
Jack’s feet dangled from the barstool, like some curious octopus, tentatively searching for the floor as his knees expressed a certain need to buckle under him. But he stood up in one of those sober moments, smiling at the bartender and held his hands out as if to surrender.
“I’m going.”
The bartender stepped back, tapping the bat against his palm.
“Good, ‘cause Eddy don’t like to get up if don’t have to.”
Jack grabbed at his own throbbing skull as he turned for the door.
“Who’s this Eddy?”
The bartender let the bat hang loose by his side.
“Eddy Bartlett. His Daddy owns this town. Family been here almost a hundred years come this New Years.”
Jack looked around at the ancient black & whites and the dated color pictures on the walls.
“So he owns this bar too?”
“Every inch.”

Jack put his shoulder into the door and mumbled.
“Must be a fuckin’ jerk.”
The bartender stepped forward, cupping one incredulous ear, bat in hand, unsatisfied.
“ What’d you say?”
Jack rubbed his face and burped. “ I said, it must be a lot of work.” Jack winked him, Stepped out into the cold and let the noisy, spring loaded door slap back at the bartender.

Jack stumbled in the street, fumbling for his keys. Driving was out of the question he thought, but there was nothing but desert at this end of town, and no one to ask any questions, and so he’d drive, he decided. Nothing but rough roads to nowhere and and he’d already been stuck there too many times.
He looked back at the bar, dark now, and thought of the mysterious Eddy, sleeping soundly and perhaps dreaming about crushing some poor souls head with a baseball bat.
Jack rolled down The window thinking he might be hurling soon and then in a fit of drunken bravery he yelled in his best red-neck-yokel-ese, “I’ll be back you sons-a-bitches.” But then he hurriedly pumped the gas and rocked back and forth as he turned the key. He’d forgotten the golden rule of bravery, which was to engage the clutch before opening up the mouth.
He pleaded with the old jeep. “Come on guzzler, don’t let me down,” and the ignition groaned as if to ask, where the hell we going at this hour?
Jack prayed up into the starry night then glanced at the dark shadows of the bar, just in case old Eddy was into sleep walking. The ignition caught.
The jeep lurched through first and second whining into the night before he thought about hitting third. Stars opened up the darkness, bringing a hint, just a hint though, of clarity to Jack’s mind. He was a moonlight drivin’ fool and then just as he realized the edge of the road was near, he thought to turn on the headlight. Singular. Just one, and that was the right one, which caused him for no great reason to lean heavily to the right as he drove, or was that the booze, or perhaps a slightly magnetically northern favor that his body proposed. He turned off the main road and stirred up some moonlight dust, lugged the transmission in fourth, stalled, and fell out into the dirt, heaving bud, bourbon and a slightly used cheeseburger.
He was a magnet all right. A magnet for love and trouble and all the trouble of love, but without all the trimmings; He was a man of the one-night-stand, or no stand at all. and now he was a man lost in a mystery. And forget standing for the moment.

*** can you help me with a title?


Blogger Victoria S said...

I'm not sure about a name, but it sure does sound like a good start to something. Have you continued with this?

10:01 PM  
Blogger R.L. Shattuck said...

Hello and no, have not continued with it -- one of the many that I've left behind. thought I'd put it up anyway and maybe get inspired to work on it again . . . meanwhile, have to rad some more of your stuff.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Victoria S said...

rad? oh, you mean, read. Hmm, read which one: the diary or the second shirt story?

10:33 PM  
Blogger Jonh Neo said...

Hi R.L., I want to introduce you to

6:26 PM  

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