Just Another Dame | A Work in Progress

{ 894 words began in 1998 }

It’s Saturday night in the Big City and I got nothing going on. So what’s a sorry bag of bones like me do but go down to The Watering Hole and get sauced? It’s my only option, aside from drowning my sorrows at the bottom of a bottle in front of the tube watching old movies that remind me too much of the olden days when things were simpler, better. I could go prowling the streets looking for trouble like any other practicing scumbag, but that’s not advisable when you’ve got the sting of a devious dame playing you for a fool still fresh in your gray matter. Instead, I go on down to the ‘Hole to get liquored up. I’ll go on feeling sorry for my sorry ass, but this way I’ve got company, which misery loves dearly.

I travel by foot, using the City’s alleyways to get where I need to, avoiding street merchant whores and panhandlers. The sitting bums in the alleys are too inebriated to do anything more than mutter reflections of a once better life to themselves. I don’t have the heart to inform them that you rarely ever rise back to the top once you hit rock bottom.

The ‘Hole is only a few blocks from my brownstone and I arrive in less than fifteen. I’m what you might call a regular here, which means that Chuck, the meat n’ potatoes big stiff at the door, doesn’t so much as give me a once-over. So I stroll in and immediately I’m pounded by the pulsating groove of dance music that nobody’s dancing to. It’s early yet, but not too early to get on with my futile attempt to wash away my misery with some fine fermented beverages. As I take in the bar scene and its sour aroma I notice the medley of cheap perfume and even cheaper cologne mixed with a hearty blend of smoke, sweat and sin. It’s the whiff of alcohol that’s the icing on my cake. As I make a beeline for the bar some asshole bumps into me, drops his Coors light on the wooden floor and says “My bad, man.”

Damn. I forgot both Friday and Saturday nights are amateur nights.

When I get to the bar I take my usual spot, a corner stool, bar tender’s right, with an angled view of the entrance. Jacqueline’s tending bar tonight and she serves me up my first shot of Jagermeister on the house ‘cause she’s good people and she knows I’m good for it.

“You still hurtin’ over that girl done broke your heart, Lenny?” she says, announcing my pathetic plight to the world.

“She was no girl,” I correct her, “more woman than I’ve ever known.”

Jacqui says, “I still say you ought to leave them young’ins alone and get yourself someone more your age,” implying someone like her, on the south side of forty-something and more settled. I consider it for a moment after downing my shot. As it trickles down my gullet, blazing a trail of fire, I give the idea some serious thought. I look Jacqui over, taking in her robust figure and hearty assets. She don’t notice ‘cause I’ve got my shades on. You can tell that in her day she was a nice corn-fed shit brick house, and that’s all right with me. Nowadays she’s a bleached blonde broad who wears too much makeup and her extra pounds are in areas most guys don’t approve. Added to the equation is a shaky self-esteem and two college-aged trophies at home with different absentee fathers and you feel me drifting. It doesn’t take me long to realize that, while not exactly murder on the eyes, Jacqui’s nowhere near the catch my Angel was.

Then again, if there’s one thing I learned from my fling with Angel is that beauty is obviously in the eye of the beholder. No way a cat with a mug like mine pulls a dame like her without some measure of charm and something particular she can bank on. But I’m trying not to think about that right now.

I say, “I don’t know, Jacqui, maybe you’re right. I am starting to get on in years. Getting a little long in the tooth to be chasing skirts anymore, true enough.”

Jacqui, pouring drinks, says, “Yeah, you gotta stop thinking they’re coming to ya with the best of intentions inspired by a heart of gold ‘cause ain’t none of them skanks thinkin’ about nothin’ else but themselves.”

As my bartender who apparently doubles as a cynical fortune teller says that, a petite young honey takes the bar stool right next to me and asks Jacqui for a glass of her best red. She glances over at my empty shot glass then looks up at me and says, “And what are you having, mister tall, dark and mysterious?”

I’m embarrassed at being a little dumbfounded by this dark-eyed brunette beauty. Somewhere in the encyclopedia under the word coincidence is a picture of this moment.

“Well, big boy?” she says with a slight country drawl.

“Uh, I’ll take a shot of Cuervo. Gold.”

Out of the corner of my eye I see Jacqui shake her dirty blonde head. Bless her heart for her concern but what she don’t know is that this time it’s going to be different.

{ Not fin }

Written: Fall of 1998

Copyright © 1998-2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

brandonrucker.com | RuckerWrites | @RuckerWrites

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