(Note: This was written a while ago. There is a nice start to a pulpy story in here, minus the misogyny…)
I’m sitting on a bar stool in a nowhere cantina just outside of Galveston. My Shiner Bock is just about empty and I’m wondering what to do.
I drove 1,469 miles here to see her, and of course, she didn’t show up. But maybe she did and I was late, I can’t help but think to myself.
I look at the text she sent me three days ago… “Be there on Saturday, 4 p.m. Don’t B late.”
Now, there was Hitchcock, Texas. A small dump of a town outside of Galveston. I’d driven through one other time in my life, and that was with my buddy Josh back when I was 23 and full of life. Now, I’m 43 and just about done with it. The scars on my heart are deep. As are the lines on my forehead. I noticed the first one that didn’t go east-west, but instead north-south when I was 38. This was after too many years of drinking alone in one-bedroom apartments and sleazy dives that didn’t even have windows, but damn if they didn’t have black jack machines.
As I sat in Louis’ Bait Camp, I watched a blonde with good eyes and bad intentions work her way towards me. I was not excited, kind of loathing her coming up to me.
“Hey there!” she said with a thick Texas accent. I’d say it was from Denton, but I didn’t really want to find out.
I looked at her chest. She had nice ones, the kind you dream about when you’re 14 before you’ve seen tits for real. Jessica Hawn tits I used to call them. But real.
“You like what you see?” she asked, this time a little impatiently.
“But of course, hun, what’s not to like,” I said taking my last swig of Shiner. I had about 60 dollars to my name right now and was almost 1,500 miles from home. My old lady, and by old I mean years had passed since she was my lady, didn’t show up despite telling me she would.
And to think, Bob Barker gave over 200 grand to house some chimps in Louisiana back in August of 2011. I think he called it “Chimp Heaven” or “Chimp Haven”.
“I could really use some of that money, Bob,” I said to myself, even as this young blonde was standing over my table.
“Huh?” she said confusedly. “Are you drunk?”
“Hun, not even close, and the way my day’s been going, probably not soon enough.”
“Well, shit in my papa’s best pants!” she said. That one never made a lot of sense to me, even now, years later thinking about it.
“Hell yeah, soiled my momma’s lilly-white panties!” I yelled.
The bar went silent at that one.
The blonde stared at me, shrugged and handed me a shot of Patron. I fucking hated tequila, but I was broke and needed some booze to get to the next day. I tilted the glass to my lips and swallowed hard. I fought the urge to puke, which always came with tequila, and slammed the shot glass on the bar.
“Thank you, ma’am,” I said to the blonde.
She smiled and touched my shoulders. I fought the urge to recoil. It was my instinct. Always has been.
“How about a beer for the fella,” she said to the barkeep. He looked at me, then at her, then back at me.
“You sure Alexis?” he asked her, looking straight at me. “This guy showed up here four hours ago asking about a redhead named Samantha.”
“Who is Samantha?” the blonde asked, pouting her lips just enough to make me want to do bad things to her.
“My ex,” I replied.
“Oh, you have kids together?”
“What’s that mean.”
“Well, she got pregnant, that’s about it.”
Alexis didn’t know how to respond. She was 20 going on 40 but didn’t have a bit of common sense. I was happy for her. She was blissfully ignorant of the life of the mind.
I used to have conversations with my sister, Becky, about how lucky those kinds of people were. So easy for them to face each day with such low expectations. Get up. Go to work. Go to church. Eat. Sleep. Fuck. And die.
Me, I wanted to find out the meaning of life, when fuck all, there was no meaning of life except to find someone who loved you and love them back.
I thought Samantha was that lady. But she wasn’t. We still loved each other. Too much most folk said. But we didn’t like each other enough to let it happen again. Or the first time, really.
I looked at Alexis and started dreaming of living in a trailer outside of Galveston with her. Maybe start my own little “Five Easy Pieces” life. But there I go again. That one didn’t end with the guy loving the girl and living happily ever after either.
Or did it?
Hell, I’m the guy who thinks Hemingway wrote the greatest love story of all time with “The Sun Also Rises.” So, what the fuck do I know?
“I don’t know? What do you know mister?” Alexis asked me.
“Huh?” I said, stunned that I must have been muttering out loud again.
“You asked me what the fuck do I know? But I think you weren’t talking to me. But you.”
“You’re all right Alexis,” I said with a smile and a chug of beer.
“You too, sir.”
“Why you calling me sir?”
“Because my daddy always said to treat a man with respect. Until you have a reason to not.”
“We’ll work on that one,” I said smiling.
“Huh?” she said. I hoped she was being coy. She wasn’t.
“Another round, bar man!” I sighed.
“We’re gonna be all right,” Alexis said to me and to no one.
“Always, hun,” I said.
“You got a quarter for the records?”
“They got 45s in that thing?”
“Hecks yeah, they do! Best jukebox in this part of Texas.”
I thought to myself that wouldn’t take much.
“What do you want to hear?” she asked.
“If they got the Kinks, play that.”
She frowned before skipping over to the jukebox. It was an old one. Had a Rod Stewart “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” 45 cover as a teaser.
The first bars of David Watts began playing. Alexis skipped back over.
“This is for you, sir,” she said.
“Well, hun, you chose wisely. Let’s dance.”
Three days later, I needed Bob Barker’s help more than ever.