Bar Fly

Every hour the doormen switch from the back gate to the front door. The majority of patrons come in through the front entrance on Shattuck while the waiters, runners, and bartenders go for their cigarette breaks out towards the back alley of Allston. While the Jupiters employees neurotically inhale coffin nails, I play solatiare on my Ipod. I shuffle through most of the deals, only accepting a quarter. An ace or two with an even mix of black and red cards must show up before I start; if you're gonna play with yourself you better have a good hand.

At 1:30 Matt, or one of the other black shirted bartenders, will emerge from the bar, step out to the patio, and shout, "Last call for alcohol!" The other doorman and I lock the gates, close the windows, and pick up random pint glasses. By quarter of two, most of the patrons have left. Those that haven't get a second warning, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."

My twin brother closes the bar down a couple nights a week, and Monday night, after I'd turned off the patio lights, he poured me a Racer 5 while he finished stacking the glasses.

"I'll be graduating in the spring Matt, with an Economics and Business Management degree. After that, I'm gonna have to get a job, a house, a car. I'll be slaving away to repay my student loans, my medical bills, and a fucking mortgage. I'll gain twenty pounds and won't ever climb again."

"No complaining at the bar," Matt started wiping down the wood counter.

"That old man sobbed earlier."

"The guy at the end of the bar? Phil, the human walrus? He's been coming here for years. You could wring a pint of Red Spot out of his mustache." The upstairs lights were shut off and the bar darkened. "I wasn't listening to him. He was ordering a beer and got teary cause the keg of Red Spot was dry. Besides, I'd cut my shoulder off before I'd let him cry on it."

"Oh. But what am I gonna do? I suck as a climber, and there's no way I could write for a living."

Matt snatched my glass, tilting his swollen nose down at me. Two days prior he'd been in a Muay Thai fight. Though he'd fought well, he'd received a TKO; he'd been bleeding profusely from a small cut on his nose. It was a bad decision by the referee. "Life's a disappointment," He placed two beers on the bar and drank with me. "And in the morning it's a hangover. Let's go see if the Pasand Lounge is still open.

Fortunately, the other bar hadn't closed yet. The bar stool swayed uncontrollably as I climbed on to it. There was a small karaoke stage and a pale thirty year old relived his glory days in the corner, singing the Cure. A head fell onto my shoulder, and an arm caressed my bicep.

"Looks like someone likes you James," Matt smiled. The Asian girl next to me was barely on her stool.

"Hey?" my mind shuffled through a series of bad pickup lines. "If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"

Matt's eyes rolled as the girl grabbed my arm tighter to keep from falling off the barstool. The bartender stared at her.

"I think you've had enough," he took her beer from her and placed it behind the bar.

Suddenly, there was serious Asian fury. "You, you can't take that!" The drunk girl grabbed an empty pint glass and threw it with Nolan Ryan speed at the mirror behind the bar. Glass sprayed across the room. The girl swiped her hand on the counter top, knocking a few more glasses over.

"Get the fuck out of my bar!" The bartender stared at the shards of glass strewn through the room. A bouncer ran up, grabbed the girl, and dragged her to the street. as the bartender picked up glass.

Matt plucked a piece of shrapnel from his beer, and downed the rest. "You couldn't afford a condom anyway. Let's go, there's a couple of pale ales back at the house." He tossed an extra bill to the bartender. "Be thankful this shit doesn't happy at Jupiters."

I stumbled behind, happy that, at least for a moment, life was exciting.

First Published with graphic in the Lattice Journal Novemeber 2007,