He slaps the glass back on the counter, signalling for a top-off. The bartender smirks, and fills it again. The man adjusts the bag he has brought in with him on the floor, just beside his feet. In the dim bar, only a few recluses litter the place, the bartender knows them all by drink: ‘Bourbon on the rocks’, ‘dry martini’, ‘three Bud Lites’ at a time. All of their stories are similar: marriage, job, general mal-adaptation. However, they paid his bills, and so he allowed them sanctuary.
‘Whiskey Shot’ is a newcomer, rather young, but he houses some kind of lengthy sorrow in his face. The bartender had never seen such pessimism in a kid before, but alcohol provides temporary solace, this he knew. So, every time ‘Whiskey Shot’ slams down the glass, it isn’t long before it’s full again.
“What’s up, Bud?” the bartender asks, prepping for the counseling session. At least once a day he tries to put his psychology degree to good use, he doesn’t turn down the tip afterwards either.
Sighing, ‘Whiskey’, sets the glass down again, and looks up. His eyes move slow, as though he is struggling to meet the bartender’s gaze. The barkeep notices this is more than a drunken lag, however. I had to put my dog down today.
“aw, I’m sorry mate.” He wipes the bar counter, and waits for more.
“She was like…I mean…I raised her from a puppy. She was only a few months old. Then some bastard dog comes along and attacks the fuck out of her–broken hip, probably rabies. Fuck.” ‘Whiskey’ winces and pushes the the weighty glass towards the bartender. He fills it, wincing too. Though he knows the situation was nothing like it, he imagines a pack of wolves surrounding a small pup, circling as the pup cowers, tail between it’s legs and it’s ears pressed flesh against it’s skull. The true event couldn’t have been much better.
“She was my friend here.” He sips the whiskey, ” My only family. And this place just–It just fucking sucks.”
The bartender shrugs, he neither hated nor loved the place. It was somewhere to work, and business was good. He doesn’t know what to say, and so he waits again for “Whiskey” to talk.
‘Triple Bud’ comes up to them and taps the stained oak bar top. ‘ta dump bump bump, ta dump bump bump.’
“Three Buds, Joe” He sets down a few coins, and Joe pulls some bottles from the cooler behind him. ‘Triple Bud’ watches the newcomer, “Where you from?”
‘Whiskey’ shrugs and tries to ignore the comment, focusing on the tapping fingers.
“Well you aren’t from here,” He turns back towards Joe and takes the now opened bottles and sets them in a row in front of him. One sat directly in fron of his chest, square in the middle. The other two were on level with his shoulders. He takes a sip from the bottle on his left, then the right, and then the one in the middle.
The three stay there in silence, Joe wipes the bar, ‘Triple’ continues his method, and ‘Whiskey’ finishes his glass. The arid heat pulls moisture from their foreheads and backs, and each time ‘Triple’ picks up a bottle, the pool of water grows between the three. Though no one speaks, Joe feels a camaraderie between them, and offers them some ice water to help keep them cool. ‘Whiskey’ drags some ice out of the water and wipes it on his cheeks and his brow. Putting the ice on the counter, he stands, breaking their group. He slips his dry hand into his pocket and pulls out some coins, then takes the bag he had been resting between his legs and hoists it over his back.
“I have to go bury my dog now, thanks for the drinks.”