Wednesday, April 24

Barfly (or Bar, as a prefix)

SATURDAY NIGHT IN the hotel bar. Big things are happening – over there, maybe there, somewhere, but not here. We’re all of us just passing the time with a drink or two, huddled around and intermittently keeping an eye on the TV as it changes between various American sports, none of which make much sense to me. The TV, the small circle of barstaff, the bigger circle of customers, then the circle of the elements: unseasonably bad weather, winds & rain & the hot sticky heat. So everybody just sits around drinking. My brothers don’t drink much, but I am fed-up of some things and tired of being sober, so for every one of their drinks I will have a few whiskey sours. Condensation collects on each cup; clouding judgement, running down, getting amongst it. Cigarette smoke tipples upward. Let’s just drink into the night, the hotel around us; we’re holidaymakers.
My brothers are chatting to a barman; south Georgia, a beard that never liked being grown, outstanding accent, crazy, real butterfly crazy; my brothers adore him, listen to all of his stories. I can tell that he doesn’t think much of me, yet I ask – ‘We’re you ever in the armed forces.’ ‘Yessir. Marine corps.’ He rushes to the other side of the bar – obscured by a tower of spirits, a till, some last-minute expensive cigarettes, tabs & tickets, places to store loose articles – and presents a photograph album; there he is, beardless, beside his girl, all dressed up in ceremonial garbs. It is strange to see him like that. Without invitation I go through the rest of the photographs; wedding day, mostly; his father, family, girlfriend fiancée wife, waxed cars and manicured Georgia lawns, smile, his smile was in every one and, particularly, the way his girlfriend fiancée wife smiled too, a real true smile with her head back and real white teeth though a good neck a real good neck. The photograph album was all worn and fingered. I handed it back and told him what I thought of his (girlfriend fiancée) wife. He still didn’t really like me.
Nothing to do but keep drinking.
I bought the next drink saying to myself – ‘Right, after this I’ll go to bed. A nightcap.’ People came and people went and the bar stayed busy and there was laughter, stories, shouting and the Americans were as friendly as they were loud and abrasive. I kept myself to myself, rolling cigarette after cigarette.
A family arrived, with less announcement than many others who showed, and started talking to my brothers, who would talk to anyone, given the chance. The mother pointed at me – ‘And he’s the serious one!’ And my brothers cried – ‘Yes!’ I didn’t hold this judgment against the family and eventually I even cast a look at them. They were good people; the soft face mother, the pretty red daughter, the dark son.
A woman barfly soon took over the scene. Because of where we were, none of us could find the ability to ignore her. She wasn’t quite right but had balance enough to remain on the barstool. She tried to crack on with my brother, then to set him up with some girl – ‘I have a girlfriend!’ but the barfly wouldn’t listen.
The family were good company, as I affiliated myself with the dark son; from Connecticut, all of them living in New York. He worked in the Empire State. The bar shut and we had to go upstairs. We made it to a balcony, I rolled cigarettes, passed them around and we talked some more.
They left and I felt as if they’d taken the good times with them, so I walked off down the hall, in search of another drink, another nightcap. I walked into another hotel bar and that, too, was winding down. The barfly was in there now. I wanted to just drink alone, under the dim lights and the nothing music, but she wouldn’t let me. She called me over and introduced me to another Briton; a posh girl from Windsor. Well, anyway, we drank and drank and the Brit told me how good she was at fucking and sucking dick. She was pretty but, like everyone else, she was losing it. In my mind I pulled her head back and came down her throat. The barfly told me what a hard time she’d had growing up, how she was bullied and boys hated her, so she decided to become a successful businesswoman; now she holidays alone and she feels no better for it.
It was Saturday night. I was drunk. Everyone was.
We were kicked out of that bar. People dispersed, went their own way.
Lovers in elevating tremors trembled with linked arms to the elevators, where they’d fuck; open-back dresses, expensive suits, one throbbing prick pushing itself into an expensive opening and the world galloping underneath a slew of gorgeous orgasms, of white dribbling down pink.
‘Meet me back here,’ said the Brit in her posh voice. I pissed and met her back there, the hotel lobby. She was in tears when I returned. (Long legs in front of me) she told me about her boyfriend, who she was unhappy with, and the American she had fucked and who used the L-word a lot. I told her I wouldn’t trust anyone who used the L-word so soon. ‘But you’ve no idea how I could fuck your brains out!’ ‘I can imagine, and I am imagining, but still – only simple motherfuckers throw the L-word around that easy.’ We talked for an hour, without drinks, wiping away dribbling eye makeup. I no longer thought about putting it into her throat. She was just as alone as I was. I told her about Helen and we tried to figure everything out as much as everything could be figured out in a hotel lobby at four in the morning. In the end we embraced and parted.
I went to the toilet, then saw her sobbing by a payphone. So that’s that.
In my bed I thought of how hard she could have made me come and the scar on her knee and the reason for the scar. It was Sunday morning. So that’s that.

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