By R. Winkeller
Inordinate bouts of booze at the end of the bar. Strangers drinking all more than I could. The blonde woman in a pink smile. Or was it brunette? She was quite pretty. She told a story about her boss yelling at her in a meeting. After a meeting? I couldn’t tell if she was serious. Late night, might head back.
Mm, back OUT it was. To another bar. The Blind Tiger. Mad Oak. Lost and Found, for the Old Fashioned’s that tasted like watered down apple juice. Still do. Ah that’s it, she was redheaded, very redheaded. Strawberry blonde with streaks that reminded me of a blind tiger. Or a zebra. Or was that someone else? Mysteries in my liver distract any progress I might make with this. I can’t quite put my finger on her face.
These blacktop walkers could help. They look like they’d want to smoke the joint in my pocket. Unless we already did. I could uncertainly ask, if they would stop taking pictures of themselves. Perhaps they’re only on Facetime, or an equally antiquated messaging tool. Etched cave rocks possibly. What noises they’re making. They don’t present themselves like a crowd I’d mind a smoke with, but night time beggars are shifty choosers. Especially tonight.
I say hello. She says something back that I can’t wrap my attention around. Minutes go by between us in a conversational hail storm.
She laughed. You’re funny, she said. I responded that I do sketch comedy. She laughed a second time. You’re funny, she said again, now inaudible. She seems easily amused. I’d like to get a ride from her but I’m worried about leaving my car in this neighborhood. Good that I parked in a different neighborhood. One much more dangerous than this a couple miles up this street. I shouldn’t be worried, I’d venture that the car’s already gone by now. I’ll need to buy a new one tomorrow. Maybe the answer was on my phone. A blistering numbness perspired my fingertips and the phone broke face first from my jeans into a rust parking block. Its gears were turning. Did anyone see? All the eyes I find avert mine in slurred volley. I don’t think they saw.
Sienna dusted the screen, my fingers, reminiscent of the shrill makeup muzzling the nostrils of these trendsetters. Must have been cut with something foul. But I hadn’t time to waste on other people’s drug habits, I had a phone to address. Instagram still works. Their logo’s changed again, currently a lattice animation of veins, glowing blue in the shape of a leaf. Incredibly inaccurate and unrealistic, I thought. I’d have to tell the designers.
Now to finding faces to book on Twitter and Tinder. Right, yes. Molasses Tea. The reason I took out this fissured shell of a nail file. My fingerprints started prodding at the back of my brain in a deaf frenzy. What were they up to now? They looked to be bleeding again. Just the thumb and index this time. Parings of my necessities. I needed tape for the phone’s screen. Scotch probably wouldn’t do, though more whiskey might help me get through this fevering. At least a double. Realistically I’d need a bottle. Maybe that joint had figured itself back into a pocket. I patted my thighs. No, clear packing tape would have to be my resort.
Where to find it? Another outdoor group hung themselves by the dumpster, cackling the way a man and his iron lung might try to nail one liners. In the darkness, their denim costumes and strobe bodies told me a Brock Turner joke would be an apt entry into their conversation. I reconsidered. These white drunkards were too likely to flex proverbial Johnsons at any foreign jesting. Mincing fists with them would have to wait for another patron.
Do any of you ladies happen to have packing tape on you? Or do you know where I could get some at this time of night? And what time would you say it is? Any estimate? A ridiculous consideration to canvass, but the most important one on my plate. I ran through more lines in my head, whispering my thoughts aloud to the bouncer. He stood quiet, like a deranged mortician.
Clear packing tape, I remembered. Specificity’s important among sponges like these. Not literal sponges of course, that would be barbaric. Though their skin is eerily porous. They’d be lucky to get some rain tonight.
An in could be these sketches this young woman seemed so fond of. Molasses Tea, the name I kept sharing. Hilarious she said of them. I might have made that up to further my own esteem. I can’t find her to confirm. Did she run back inside? Or to another bar. She was wearing higher heels than most, so I hoped she wouldn’t be running anywhere particularly fast. A light jog at most. A bad enough rolled ankle could be amputated in the wrong neighborhood, not that I knew the name of this one. I could barely read in this humid mental fog. There was much room for error, but finding her way back would be difficult. As would finding my own. She’d been smoking cordial amounts of cannabis when I gave her my number. A clue on this search.
Perhaps not. I suppose it’s just a waiting game now. I’ll have to skip back inside and prepare myself for it with another apple juice.
But I’ll need more entertainment.
I need Molasses Tea.