Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Always The Smiths

The window was open despite the winter weather.  The heater chugged away near the windowpane.  Snowflakes wafted in and melted on the stained wood.  The Smiths were on the speakers.  The Smiths were always on the speakers.  The room smelled like cigarette smoke, baby powder and stale beer.   “We should get some vodka.  Don’t you think we should get some vodka?”   He looked up from his book for a moment to give her a glance and then returned to the book.  She slapped down on the couch cushions in exaggerated anger.  She didn’t really want vodka.  She was just bored and thought the vodka would make something happen.  Anything.  The gray clouds and Morrissey and the snow and the book. Everything was gloomy.  It made him tired behind his eyes.

She continued to pester him.  “Let’s just go doooo something!”  He would never finish the reading.  He closed the book and put on his jacket.  Reflexively he felt for his keys in his front pocket as the door swung shut.  She chatted in a higher pitch and a faster rate than before, pleased to get her way.  He hunched his shoulders against the wind.  The slush slipped into a small crack in his leather boot.  They walked down the street as the cars hissed by on the damp pavement.  They got to the bar where “everyone” went and pushed the worn wooden door aside to walk down the basement stairs.  It was too early.  No one would be there.  Crude fliers advertised bands, political meetings, and second hand items for sale on the trip down.  A mountain bike had gathered particular interest as only two phone numbers had yet to be ripped from the photo of the “gently used” bike for $125.  A band called “Angry Handjob” had secured a Wednesday night headline slot at the “cool” club.  $5 or a donation to get in.  See you there.

He slumped into the wooden booth positioning himself against the wall in a lean that he thought suggested an offhand cool but really made him look like he was trying too hard to look comfortable.  His hand stuck slightly to the table from spilled beer from God knows when.  The barmaid walked from behind the bar to take their order.  She wiped the table in a symbolic gesture more than an attempt to clean.  “What can I get you?”  The barmaid stood at attention in her casually ripped jeans and skin tight Ramones t-shirt holding the pen at a “ready” angle to her small notepad.  “Vodka tonic…  I’ll have a vodka tonic.”  The barmaid moved her eyes up from the notepad to meet his glance.   “Uh… I’ll just have a Bass.”

The barmaid wrote it down as she walked away.  “Back in a minute.”  They had pretended not to recognize each other.  It was what they did.  It was an agreement they had both made without discussing it after a disastrous night at the barmaid’s apartment about a year ago.  Things had gone quite well at one point.  Then she had breathed “I’m coming Jim” in his ear, which would have been great if his name was Jim.  She dug her nails into his shoulder and flexed her thighs around him as she came and he tried to decide if he had actually heard her say what he thought he heard her say.  They breathed quickly in the dark thinking of their individual strategies until she hopped up to go to the bathroom.  She came out of the bathroom as he was pulling on his jeans muttering something about needing to get up early the next day, so maybe he should just go…   Yeah…  I’ll call you or something…

The barmaid returned with the drinks and left without a word.  The Bass had run over the glass onto the table.  “Do you have any singles?”  He fished in his pocket for two crumpled dollars.  His companion snatched the dollars out of his hand and playfully sipped from the tiny cocktail straw.  “I’m going to go play the jukebox.”  He watched her walk across the hardwood floor to the jukebox in the corner.  She moved her hips slowly back and forth to the music as she sipped her drink trying to decide on her songs.  She carefully began to plug in numbers.  A Tom Petty song began to fade out as she walked back to the table.  “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” came out of the speakers.  “That’s mine!  I picked that one!”

It was The Smiths.  It was always The Smiths. 


At February 3, 2017 at 9:09:00 AM EST , Blogger AZ said...



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