Sunday, November 06, 2005

forget the implications

Ralph scuffed his shoe on the sidewalk, spat. Took you long enough, asshole. You said nine.

The guy sidling up to him outside the bar glanced up sharply, taken aback for an instant before his timid good looks re-presented on his face. He made to smack Ralph across the face. Shut the fuck up, dickwad. Suck on your little cigarette so we can go in. C'mon.

They embraced.

The bar was one of those chain places usually geared towards the college set. Before the lively decor and jaunty jukebox even had a chance to scuff up and get comfortable, the place was abandoned to a menacing crowd of lonely old drunks. It'd been an old gentlemen's club ten years ago. The non-smoking policy brought in with the chain name added a grumpy tone to the holdover clientele and regularly fostered a lively specacle just outside the doors. If you hit this bar up at the right time in 1998, like Ralph did, you came down with fifteen or twenty spare ashtrays for your home. Ralph had been going there since the club days, and had a hard time giving up his smokes at his bar. His mood outdoors was sharp and acidic with the rush of nicotine and night air. As if he needed more ashtrays.

He dropped the cig and they walked into a small, lowlit room through glass doors. They checked their coats and slapped away the saloonish swinging vest, entering the bar proper. Howya been, Mark? Still seeing that one girl, stole you away from me?

Mark followed Ralph across the room and sat down at the bar. Heads might have turned, over in the flickery booths and at the tiny cocktail tables. But probably not. I been alright, Ralphie. And I haven't seen that bitch since November. Actually, that's kinda why I called you up. Been to any weddings lately?

What? You're shitting me.

Naw, this gal's incredible.

You've been had, my friend. I can tell already. She may be great, but solitary confinement's a bitch. I thought you knew that?

I thought I knew that, too. But Nancy's something special.

Yeah, special. Right. Ralph picked up his drink as soon as the bartender set it down. So what? You want me to be in the wedding or something?

Fuck no! Think I'd let a prick like you within a ten mile radius of Nancy on her wedding day?

Fair enough. But, c'mon. Just one more, and I won't take any away from you ever again. Promise.

No way. She's mine. You can come if you want, I guess, but you have to wear the straightjacket and a mouthful of tongue depressors.

Damn! You know they think I'm fine in my strappy whites. Nancy, she'll...drifting off in wonderment, Ralph imagining and shaking his head.

Mark hunched over and shifted his stool a bit. The scraping of wood on wood piqued more ears than their arrival. Booths seemed to shrink inward towards their tables, the mason jar candles around the room eclipsed now by straining ears. What about you? Anyone you wanna bring?

Well, I been seeing this bird lately, but I don't think she'd do me well at a wedding. She's crazy enough as it is.

Crazy like what?

Fuckin' hard to get bullshit.

Sweet cheebus, Ralphie. She's pulling the hard to get bit out for you?

Ralph grunted, chomped on a piece of ice. Fuck off.

Of all people, who'd think you were worth the time? Smirking between the words.

Hey, look, I get it. I said fuck off.

Heh. She's playin you hard to get...And you're the one's been had. What?

Mark couldn't help flinching Ralph's head snapped up so fast. Fuck you. Ralph's stool tipped as he pushed back from the bar, clunking back and forth on pairs of legs. He was already fumbling for a smoke, shouldering out through the lobby and into the night.

Currently Listening:
By Wilco

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