Last Call at Happy Hour

The tavern’s calm washed out to sea as anger surged across Summer’s face. Hank’s eyes reflected the tired shadow of broken windows, the jagged scars of demon teeth in his brain. I’d been drinking since clocks lived on wrists, not inside cell phones, and my Psoriasis was acting up something awful. Summer clicked her psychological heels three times, trying to rid herself of the fantasy world we all seemed to dwell in, that world between beers, floating tantalizingly above hangovers. Hank clenched his ass-cheeks, recognizing the signs of metaphorical stormy seas; doomsday-sized tsunamis heading towards his tranquil shores. He’d seen them before. His engineers had designed some impressive levees. He always knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway for some reason. I opened my own floodgates, a river of vodka rushing down my throat, burning, yearning after some forgotten dream, long lost to the ethereal haze of memory. Summer readied that machete gaze of hers, willing to sever as many heads as she needed to to keep Hank in line. We prepared to mop up the emotive arterial spray, to keep our heads as far from her guillotine temper as possible. Hank hadn’t worn a watch in years but he glanced at his wrist anyway. I rested my head in my hands, trying to dispel any notions that my ears were stretching ever closer to the forthcoming auditory apocalypse, effectively pulling up an eavesdropping stool next to the fracas. Summer grimaced, her jaw grinding back and forth. Her eyes quivered, supplementing her rage with a pain festering under years of rumors, lies and neglect. Hank slid his self-deprecating shield into place, readying his facetious foil to parry her verbal onslaught with a charm as thin as his hairline. I sucked fire through my coffin nail, loosing a smoky rasp into the already smoggy room. Fluffing at my mullet, my business-in-the-front drastically receding, while my party-in-the-back grew ever longer, I motioned to the bartender. He crept down the bar, as though I’d asked him to loan me a kidney. His eyes never left Summer as she wavered on the razor edge of the moment, swaying back and forth like a cobra. Hank began to recoil, in typical fashion, preparing his counter-assault and hoping he’d packed the right armor. I sat there, erect as I was on my first day of Basic Training, my fellow patrons clutching their respective pints, shots or carafes, in their white knuckles. Then Summer startled us, sighing as bleakly as a winter morning and shuffling out the door. The entire bar deflated, returning vacantly to our drinks as the remote twang of Honky Tonk trickled through the sudden dearth of activity. Hank just stood there licking his lips, a confused dog by the side of the road, as her car pulled away.

 

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