An Excerpt from "Cemetery Polka And Other Stories From The Dark Side" by Wilfried F. Voss
Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
- Carrie Fisher
Like a boa constrictor suffocating her victim, Nora slung her bony arms around my neck, and looked me deep in the eyes. With her dark brown, glassy eyes half closed, she talked to me with her raspy voice.
“It never ends, doesn’t it?”
Baby, when was the last time you washed your hair? I thought, while struggling not to spill my beer. I am sorry, but I will never get used to dreadlocks, and I really can’t stand the odor of dry shampoo mixed with the smell of cheap gin and beer.
“What does never end?” I asked, and as soon as the words left my mouth, I knew it was a mistake not having answered with a plain “Yes.”
Nora looked confused, and it took her a few moments to think about the answer.
“Life,” she finally murmured.
My attempt to successfully maintain this highly sophisticated conversation was futile. In an eye’s blink she was gone.
Don’t always act so rational, I advised myself. Just go with the flow. Play the game.
On the other hand, as long as I frequented this joint that called itself a neighborhood bar, it was never my intention to pick up women. I am happily married, but tonight my wife insisted that I leave the house. It was her turn to host her quilting group, and one of her friends, Thelma, was not only afraid of cats and dogs, but also of yours truly.
In my life, I have never won a blue ribbon for my social skills. Don’t get me wrong, according to my wife, I can be very charming when I choose to be, but it takes a person with a brain – like my wife, for instance – to tickle my curiosity. I am not good when it comes to maintain small talk, and to some people – Thelma, for instance – I come over as intimidating.
I also strongly believe that this level of unsocial behavior has kept me healthy, if not alive in this hostile environment. Let’s just say that there had never been the necessity of visiting a doctor after a night of sleeping with somebody whose name and face I couldn’t remember. We’re talking here about the time before I got married. These days my protection is the wedding band on my left hand. Well, to face the truth, even that is not necessarily an effective tramp repelling device.
I was not in a good mood that night. First, my beer – a good Irish Harp – was flat, because I was the only person to drink it, and they kept the keg until it was empty. I was also angry with my wife, because I was not in the mood for a trip to the dark side, but she had insisted that I go and have some quality time for myself.
“I’ll have a cheeseburger with French fries,” I heard a voice behind me. I turned around to see Jimmy, one of the regular barflies, addressing the new bartender, a young girl in her early twenties.
“How’s it goin’,” he grumbled at me.
“Just fine, thank you.”
“Extra Ketchup, too!” he yelled after the bartender. “And I’ll have another beer!”
Then he turned back to me.
“Nice ass,” he pointed to the girl behind the bar. “I’m working on her.”
Yeah, right, I thought. You’re what … like sixty-five, and you dare dreaming of having sex with a beautiful twenty-year-old? Get real, and act your age!
“So, what you’re up to?” I asked him. I mean, besides dreaming of having sex.
“Just came from my Weight-Watchers meeting,” he grinned, while rubbing his enormous gut. “I already lost fifteen pounds.”
Where? At the ear lopes?
“Wow! That’s great!”
He nodded and grinned, looking satisfied with himself and the world. Tammy, the head waitress, walked by with a full tray of beer and food, and both, Jimmy and I, admired the firm body underneath those spandex pants as she walked upstairs toward the second floor where the pool tables were.
“Had her,” Jimmy commented as soon as Tammy was out of sight. Out of the blue, Nora reappeared and floated to the other end of the bar to talk to her friend Heidi.
“Had her, too.”
Shut up, Jimmy!
I leaned back and tried to ignore him.
“It’s just a shame what that bastard, you know her ex, did to her. You know, he cheated on her.”
Didn’t I just tell you to shut up? And where’s your wife tonight?
“Yeah, that’s too bad,” I said. “She’s a nice person.”
At least I assume she once was nice before she started years of sex – nothing wrong with that, provided she was at legal age – drugs, and rock ‘n roll – nothing wrong with that, either.
Nora’s ex had come into some major money – nobody knows quite how – and, deciding it was time for a crisper model, got himself a model. Literally, a model. And young. Very young. And they say, money can’t buy you love.
Needless to say, Nora took him to the cleaners, bought herself a Porsche, a Harley Davidson, and a million dollar villa. In addition, she started to drink and sniff and smoke all kinds of substances that I am personally not familiar with. As they say, money can’t buy you love.
“How about them…” Jimmy continued, but stopped as soon as Tammy came down the stairs with a tray full of empty glasses. We both admired the view as she walked over to the other end of the bar to place orders.
“…Celtics? You think, they’re gonna make it to the postseason?”
“Don’t know. I’m not really a hockey fan.”
Jimmy laughed. “You are quite a joker! And you say it like you mean it, ha, ha!”
He slapped me hard on the shoulder, causing my beer to spill, but he missed to catch up on that. Instead, he watched in anticipation as the bartender finally approached with his beer and food, and then, with a full glass and a plate in both hands, he looked for a spot at the bar, fortunately a number of seats away from me, giving me the space and the occasion for some meditation.
It had escaped my attention that Tammy was yet again on a trip to upstairs, but I finally noticed that she had stopped halfway up, looking at me. I played the game, checked out her ass, and she, satisfied, continued climbing up the stairs.
I leaned over to the young girl next to me.
“Excuse me,” I said, pointing to the napkin dispenser next to her. “Can I…”
“Don’t talk to me, you old fart,” the very attractive and young lady with multiple piercings in ears, eyebrows, and lips, hissed at me.
“…have some napkins, please?”
She looked at me, consternated, and, while I admired her multi-colored hair and the multitude of tattoos, she reluctantly handed me a napkin.
“Thank you,” I said as she turned away. To this day, I don’t understand how people her age can afford the numerous piercings and tattoos, while working minimum wage jobs. But then, it is none of my business how they spent their hard-earned money. At least I assume it was hard earned.
“Can I bring you another beer?”
I looked at the bartender who started wiping the mess in front of me with a kitchen towel.
“Yes, please,” I answered. “Thank you for cleaning up.”
She smiled at me, and for a second I had the chance to admire her beautiful face, the freckles that came with it, and the light blue eyes.
“By the way,” I said. “What is your name? Sorry, but I’d prefer to address bartenders with a real name instead of just ‘Miss.’”
“Lisa,” she smiled back. “And I’m a Lesbian.”
“Is that a problem?” I asked.
“No. Not as far as I’m involved.”
“Good,” I said. “Lisa, would you please bring me another beer and the check, please?”
The last beer took another half hour, and I spend my time alone with social studies, before I left the premises. Jimmy continued hitting on Lisa. Tammy, whose shift had just ended, was making out with Nora. Not a bad choice, considering the current choice of testosterone-filled subjects. The world according to the drinking class appeared to be intact, and nobody noticed the stranger who had just left.
I made it home only moments after the quilting group had left. The first thing on my agenda, after my wife refused to kiss me, was a long shower and a thorough brushing of my teeth. When I came back, my wife was already in bed where I joined her.
I knew she was sleeping, but I couldn’t help saying, “Honey, next time your quilting ladies come, I would like to stay home.”
“Don’t you dare,” mumbled my wife, and I, vastly disappointed, turned off the light.