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Flirting with the bartender at that sad bar down the street, the stubborn stench of stale beer and cigarettes, linoleum floor absent random broken patches still sticky from the revelry of the night before, on a shiftless Sunday afternoon, the universe collectively hungover, or so it seems, sequestered from the unforgiving sunlight by the sulking shadows that scatter across the pockmarked mahogany walls, day drinking whiskey by the drink to help you think before the work week begins anew tomorrow, as it always has, as it always will till you gather the nerve to quit that goddamned place, and how you’ve played and replayed that scenario over and over and over in your head, to do what you want to do, whatever that might be, with time ever fleeting.

Flirting with the bartender at that sad bar down the street, and sad fails to fully describe the vibe inside, dense and desolate, a sealed tomb, lamps dimmed, shades pulled, but it’s the best you can do with the minimal effort your brain allows in its current state, day drinking on a Sunday afternoon, the smattering of patrons strategically placed to attain a maximum circumference of personal space and boundaries, faces buried in opened newspapers or locked onto glowing cellular phones or staring stoically forward at the staticky TV that shows some sporting event of indeterminate consequence, wait staff in soiled white aprons huddled around the high-top tables along the side rail sneaking chicken fingers and fried pickles from the kitchen next door until their shifts mercifully end.

Flirting with the bartender at that sad bar down the street, and you start to wonder if the bartender even realizes you’re flirting, since it’s been too long since you flirted with anyone and you were never very good at that anyway, or if you’re merely trying to revive the dead air with meaningless chitter-chatter, clichés about the weather, killing hours before you retreat back home because the work week begins anew tomorrow, and maybe the bartender just sees you like any other impuissant anonymous patron, and that becomes how you see yourself, so you order one last whiskey by the drink to help you think what it is you want to do when you finally gather the nerve to quit that goddamned place.

Written by

Writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, essays and plays in Louisville, Kentucky. www.peterjstavros.com.

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