Leroy trotted down the creaking wooden stairs and saddled up to a stool in the bar. His hands and joints ached. He had been driving semi for the past 12 hours and had fantasized about this coming drink. The first and last drinks were the best. It was hard to decide which was better and he had spent many a year debating this point with himself and anyone who would listen.
Leroy peered from side to side as he sat at the bar. The first draft came. Glorious but it was gone as soon the bartender disappeared around a corner. “Damn! Now where did he go off to? This place is a pit and it’s empty.” Leroy sighed. His hands shook. Leroy muttered to himself “I’ll make it a pitcher dis’ time, tho, I can tell you that.” He slapped his palm down on the bar and caught sight of a man about ten feet to his right who stared at Leroy. “That bastard looks a lot like Jesse,” Leroy thought. Jesse was the new owner of Silver Mountain United Transport, better known as SMUT to locals. SMUT was the largest employer in the region and Jesse rescued it from bankruptcy.
A pitcher appeared in front of Leroy and he felt relief for a moment. “Just one pitcher tonight though,” he thought, “just one’s going to do it this time and then I’m going to cut this out for a bit. Time to get down to tacks and save some money. Not that I spend much to begin with.” Leroy glanced to his right again. There was that bastard just sitting and staring at him in the corner with a pitcher. “In this lighting that sure looks like it could be Jesse, but it ain’t though. Let me tell you he’s lucky he ain’t. I would tell him a thing about those video cameras they got in the cabs now. What a God-damn waste. I don’t need a camera point’n at me all day.” Leroy spilled a little as he topped off his mug. He tried to forget the stranger in the corner and licked the side of the filthy pitcher “I don’t like the looks of that guy. Kind of reminds of Dad. Real nasty cheap son bitch. ‘yer no son of mine’ all day long.”
Leroy felt his suspenders and adjusted them. A new pitcher, not quite as full as the last, soon appeared and disappeared. “Where did that damn bartender wander off to now?” Leroy turned toward the guy in the corner who still sat and stared. Another pitcher appeared. This time the foam was over the top. Leroy wanted to confront the stranger but he couldn’t leave his drink where someone could steal it. He mused “course that guy could just be like me. He’s probably thinking to himself ‘that bastard keeps sitting and turning and staring at me.’ He might even think that I look like his foreman or whatever. That stranger got to be feeling sorry for himself and all. Self pity is a destructive thing. No sir. Not the way for me. Just one more pitcher and I’m done with this.” Another pitcher arrived and Leroy was furious. “I’m not feelin’ a damn thing. What kind of low life would serve nonalcoholic beer? That damn fool in the corner looks like the bartender. Could it be?”
Leroy stood up and in a daze grasped onto the edge of the bar. The room spun. Leroy braced himself and walked over to the stranger. It was dark but he could still make out the stranger’s eyes as he stood up and faced Leroy.
Leroy put his face up to the stranger, sneered, and spat out “you think you’re somethin’ just sittin and drinking sittin and drinkin’. You are a coward. I got a mind to slap you up some. Look at you. You are pathetic.” Leroy raised his right fist, but the stranger also raised a fist and Leroy ducked. “Say something! You coward. SAY IT! GOD DAMN YOU! STOP STARING.” Leroy reached back and took a wild swing but tripped over a table and landed on the floor. Leroy stood up from the floor and realized he’d wet himself. A pair of hands—they felt like a woman’s soft yet firm—guided him into the restroom. Leroy cleaned himself as best he could and spotted a half full bottle under the toilet. “What kind of weakling can’t finish his drink?” He grabbed the bottle and chugged it down. He stumbled past the sink and froze. There was the stranger again standing two feet away from his right. He just stood there and didn’t say a word. Leroy gasped and yelled “what kind of a coward doesn’t say a GOD DAMN THING. IT’S A WEAK MAN WHO CAN’T EXPRESS HIMSELF. SPEAK.” Leroy pointed at the stranger’s pants and said “You can’t even hold your bladder. You are a mental and moral coward. SPEAK TO ME FOOL!”
The stranger opened his mouth to speak but instead a woman’s voice called out from somewhere above “Leroy, please tell me you are not so drunk you are talking to yourself in the mirror again. That scares me more than you know.”
Leroy shouted at the mirror “OH NOW YOU SPEAK YOU WHEN YOU KNOW I’M GOING TO GET YOU! THIS IS THE LAST STRAW.” He stumbled backward and raised his fists.
“Leroy! Get out from the basement. Dinner is ready. Please tell me you didn’t drink so much that you’re not hungry. Come upstairs now.”
“OH DAMN YOU!” Leroy stumbled up the creaking stairs to the dining room, sat down, turned to his wife and said, “That’s my last drink. I swear it. Why are you looking at me like that?”
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