The bar smells like fifty years of spilled beer. Joseph pulls the metal and glass door up and engulfs the smell. His average 5 foot something build makes him almost indistinguishable from the rest. His salt and pepper stubble hair makes a horseshoe open to the front. His narrow face seems to belong to a taller, thinner man. A ruddy complexion with stubble cheeks and a line for a mouth complete his look.
Dressed in an open flannel and torn jeans. Jeans torn at bottom going up, not any style points. His white tshirt, plain and blank just like him.
The ten feet from door to bar goes quick. He grabs the first stool on left. The bar stretches out some thirty feet. There are about twenty stools. The bowling alley shaped bar had a half dozen tables to the right.
“Jeri, any chance you’ll be serving at this end?” Joseph leans on to the dark wood bar.
“Your lazy ass could have kept on walkin'” comes the reply. Jeri is talking with three others at the far end. her forty something belied by her figure. She dressed in clothes made for a twenty something or a bar maid. Daily comings and goings are more important than a cheap tipper.
Joseph plays with his zippo lighter. Snapping it open and closed. Like an annoying child, the noise carries far further than anyone wants. He stares down at the in group. Even in the day time bar scene, success is elusive.
He brings out his phone. Jobfare.com didn’t offer much in his specialty. Good money, just show up, no overtime needed. Job hunting is depressing.
“Hey, you drinking draft?!” Jeri’s voice brings him back to the bar. “People come here to drink..remember?”
“Yah, I thought I’d have to go get it myself! If it’s no trouble to like do your job….”he pauses to let the jab sink in.
“I can spit in it for no extra cost.” She responds with the universal number one salute..middle finger fully extended worth a smile on her face.
Jeri walks it down to him. The walk is an aged striper trying for the next dollar. Her smile is luke warm. The beer held off to the side as not to interfere with Joseph’s view.
“About that spit? You never said yes or no…” Her face done well in war paint. Years hidden beneath foundation. Fake eye lashes pay homage to those long past. She was enough of a looker once. Now, it is used for tips.
“I can think of a better way to get that spit. When ever you want to find a better place to get better acquainted, well I’m all for it.” Joseph speaks like he can pull it off. They both know it’s never happening.
“Hmm…I can leave a job that pays me. Or I can go to a roach motel and spend the best 45 seconds of my life….Erik you please say ‘was it good for you, baby!’ It’ll lady a full minute that way.” Her dagger like eyes test into him.
“These losers can’t make you feel like I can. You probably are to cold to get off anyway. But I’d still be willing to try. You know you like me. It’s a short walk from there to…you know.” Joseph seems unaffected by her eyes.
“How’s the job hunting going? You need something. My God, you are the worst tipper here. It would help us both. I want to see if absence makes the heart grow fonder.” She smiles a crooked smile. “Look! Dock worker. $17 an hour, full time immediate openings. You really should go. We both need the money. Seriously, why not?”
“I’m no good at those kind of jobs. It’s hectic. This much time, that much time. Is the tow motor working? Always a boss with no experience! Hate those jobs! I’m thinking sales. I could sell shit. People like me. You like me don’t you?” Joseph goes through his speech, well rehearsed.
The dead stare back is different. Jeri really was trying with him. “OK, I’m going down there. Wave if you need another.”
“Just like at home. You all think it’s easy, just go to work at any job. I should like what I do. It’s not much to ask….” his voice spoken to the universe. None is within range to hear.
Joseph goes back to his beer. Burying his head in the sand is too much effort.
Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 lay below.