Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why You Can't Have a Conversation with a Bar Drunk

I watch him as he speaks,
his tongue darting
like an errant fish between his remaining teeth.
There are only three of them,
jutting from his dark gums like great stone tablets,
crooked and yellowed.

I’ve been to AA, he tells me.
I’ve been there.
But now I am here.
He says, lifting his arms to show the bar.
No one is paying attention to him. No one ever does.

He runs a tired hand through his hair
adjusts the thick black glasses on his face.
I noticed the tape holding the arm to the lens
has yellowed and is starting to unpeel. It flaps in the breeze from the open door.
His eyes look like fish eyes too, everything about this guy is fishy,
blinking back at me like great glass orbs magnified
as he steadies himself using the back of my chair.

I says, he says, I’ve been to AA.

I nod. Everyone has to be somewhere,
I tell him.
Aren’t you going to ask me what happened?
He says.
I told you, I was in AA,
aren’t you going to ask me what got me back here?

No I tell him,
thinking it’s probably not a very good story anyway.
It’s none of my business, I tell him.
Besides, I’ve got this whole night ahead of me,
this whole life,
and before any of that can start,
I need to finish this pint in front of me.

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