Clock work


I come into this tavern every night.

Like clock work.

Iíve been so regular for so long my drink is waiting at my usual table when I get here.

The bartender nods, but knows I wonít talk until Iíve emptied my first drink.

If itís been a bad day, I donít talk until after the second drink either.

I come here to forget.

I wonít look at the TV Ė although it is always on Ė because I hate what I see on the news.

Nothing good ever comes from TV news.

They get their kicks making you think the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

They think theyíre cheering people like me up by painting the rest of the world with such misery.

It doesnít work.

So I stay here and tune it all out.

Not just the news, but everything in my life that causes me pain: my bastard boss, my bitchy wife, my annoying kids and neighbors.

I donít need to hear how the Republicans started another war or how the Democrats let them.

I donít care about how cars cause global warming or how the Chinese poison the food we get cheap.

Still some news creeps in any way.

Joe, the bartender (itís amazing how theyíre all named Joe) scolds me each time I reach for a cigarette telling me the law says I need to take it outside.

News of a different kind always walks through the door behind me, such as the scruffy-haired guy in the wrinkled suit who used to be a Wall Street broker until he got making deals on the side and now he drinks himself drunk every night before stumbling out to God knows where to do God knows what with whom.

Or the bag lady with two blue bags stuff with rags, who comes in once every night to buy one bottle and leaves with it, a woman Joe claims was once a famous actress who get messed up with the wrong people and got messed up good.

Me, I never bring in news, though I tell a handful of people about my boss, my wife, my kids, and the lack of future I feel every morning when I get up to go to work, and the myth that someday Iím going to throw all of it off and head out to somewhere where nobody can find me.

Beth, a middle aged whore who works the down and out yuppies, is the best thing about this place. She says sheís only going to work until sheís saved enough to move to Florida.

Tonight, she smiles at me between the tricks and lets me buy her a drink.

On slow nights, she even gives me a freebee as long as I pay for the hour down at the run down hotel she uses down the street.

She gives me progress reports, telling me sheís almost got enough to split, and I tell her I hope I never see the day when Joeís place doesnít have her in it.

We repeat this conversation at least once a week, but tonight we really mean it.

She tells me I can always hook up with another whore.

Her kind loves my kind because we actually love.

I tell her thereís no one like her, and †except a weary-looking yuppie with a down day on Wall Street wanders in and she wanders off to give him comfort.

She tells me if Iím around later sheíll comfort me, too.

But I know and she knows I canít stay late on account of the wife.

If Iím not home by seven, she gets suspicion.

If Iím not home by eight, she calls the police.

I wave my good byes to Beth, Joe, and the handful of other regulars then wander out.

On my way home I wonder if tomorrow will be any different from today.

I hope not.



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