I am a rat out of hell.
I crack my knuckles successfully every couple seconds as lightening arcs between my shoulder blades. My fists and jaw clench with spinal magnitude.
My patchy, pitiful beard grows from under my low-pulled pastel-green newsboy. My shirt is buttoned one button too low to flaunt my unimpressive-but-still-definitely-noticeable tuft of chest hair. My smudged sunglasses belie the sheer intensity required to contain my deluge.
I rooster past a gaggle of women congregating outside of my normal haunt. Their heels are too high for their ability, their skirts too short for a father’s cardiac health. Bolstered cleavage and surplus foundation have become the hallmarks of women my age. After their pristine high school bodies run the alcoholic gauntlet of higher education only to be spat out into society with a greater pallet for boxed wine than complete sentences, the wear and tear of the journey thus far begins to show. I can’t say I’ve come out unscathed myself.
I shoot them a sly smile which may have come off as more of a shit-eating grin. A couple of them ignore my gesture and turn back towards their conversation. One of them at least had the courtesy to laugh through her nose before returning to her texting. I took it as some sort of acknowledgment of her own calculated image in contrast to my masterfully disheveled aura. I can appreciate someone who is comfortable in their own skin; perhaps she feels the same.
I corner past the flock to the door of the bar where I am halted by the bouncer.
“Hey bud, no sunglasses inside.”
He is far larger than I, but not in particularly great shape past his indomitable size. He seems like someone whose group of friends have a monosyllabic nickname for him that best incapsulates both his physical and intellectual imposition—“Bud,” perhaps. I slowly fold up my sunglasses and slip them into my breast pocket.
“Sorry, I must have missed the sign.”
“What? There is no sign.”
He motioned for me to enter before stopping me to recommend that I remove my hat as well, though this was not expressly a rule. I responded with a definite shit-eating grin and moseyed on by.
I chart the most direct route to the bar which involves coasting around a high school acquaintance who, judging by his flimsy stance, would make a point of reminiscing about all those great times in school that we never had because we never talked. Brim pulled low, I scamper by undetected.
Next is a man who is, from what I can tell, successfully hitting on two different women simultaneously. They nuzzle their drinks close to their breasts and giggle at every awful pun he swings at. One of the girls bites the far corner of her lip every time he shifts his focus to her. The other bellows her laughter when she isn’t being looked at, repurposing her voice as a flare gun.
Its unclear what’s so great about this guy’s act; ironically bad jokes, some click-wink-points—a standard issue routine by most accounts. I suppose his genius operates on an undetectable level. Pheromones, maybe.
I carve out a section of bar top to lean on and can’t help but notice the immaculately shaped girl facing away from me. Her lioness locks flowed over her neck, cascaded down her open back, and dropped my eyes into the reservoir of her sculpted ass. I was lost somewhere her legs and the meaning of life when—
“What’ll it be?”
I defog and refocus on the bartender. Middle aged sourpuss with regrettable tattoos and visible impatience.
“Bombay with a lime.”
He laughs to himself before concocting the drink.
The lioness roared: “You motherfucker!”