Writer's Studio Assignment Three

Here is another piece that I did for my Writer's Studio class. This one is a piece of fiction. I suppose it's the beginning of a short story or it could be part of a larger novel. We have a two page maximum, so this is what I managed to write in two pages.

The prompt was an excerpt from Rebecca Curtis' "Hungry Self" from Twenty Grand, Harper Perennial, 2007. Please enjoy:

 It was late in the afternoon. The sun was beginning its descent and the sky glowed golden. The light glinted off the glasses on the bar, making the amber liquid shine. The patrons didn't need the mood lighting to entice them to drink, they didn't notice it the way I did. They just needed the alcohol to numb their feelings. I prefer to keep my wits about me, so despite working in a bar, I wouldn't use alcohol the way they did. I wiped my hands on the dish towel that I kept tucked into the pocket of my jeans for exactly that purpose, and enjoyed the spectacular lighting that came at sunset. It was the only moment of peace I would have on my shift as we were about to begin yet another SME as my boss called it. 'Special Marketing Event.' Like the darts competition that somehow resulted in a man going to the ER with a dart pierced through his hand, the SMEs were all hare-brained schemes which ended in mishap. As I watched the sunset, I had a feeling that this SME was a disaster waiting to happen: Ladies' Night. I could only imagine the mix of raging hormones and alcohol resulting in all out cat fight war.

That night I was working the bar with Joel. He was there because he thought bar tending was the perfect job to get a piece of ass night after night. I was there because it was the only job I could land after getting laid off from Lehman Brothers during their shameful descent into bankruptcy. I scratched and crawled through the ranks at Lehman, jockeying with jerks who would sell their own mothers to get ahead. When the bottom fell out, the same guys were grabbing jobs like this that pay pennies on the dollar to what we were used to getting. As always, I secured myself a spot and kept on scratching out my existence.

Joel glared at me from his half of the bar. He'd been at this job years longer than I had, and still hadn't gotten laid. The problem was that he's a sleazy son-of-a-bitch at the best of times. Women walk in, see a man in his mid-forties, paunchy stomach, double chin, greasy hair, and that creepy look in his eyes, and that's all it takes. They sit themselves squarely in my section of the bar. Not that I could pass for a crew member of Thunder from Down Under or anything, but an average looking guy in his late twenties like me seemed like a hunk in comparison to Joel. At the end of each night Joel blamed me when he struck out.

A group of young women entered the bar, already shouting about how wasted they were going to get. I cringed. Having served groups like this before, I knew it was an average of seven or eight drinks before it all ended in tears. Alcohol is the ultimate truth serum, and usually girls like these have a whole lot of truth in them just waiting to get out. Usually in pointed, vitriol laced comments aimed like daggers at one another, but occasionally in raunchy sexcapades aimed at the men in the bar. I braced myself for the endurance run of an evening and watched as the women danced their way over to a table, despite the distinct lack of music. In my scrutiny I recognized one of the women. My ex-girlfriend. She dumped me when she found out I could no longer afford my BMW nor take her out to fancy dinners.

I walked over to the table to give the giggling group of young women their menus. As my gaze met my ex's, she quieted. We stared at one another. Around her, the other girls began to notice her quiet, and the hilarity of the moment spiraled downwards as if being sucked into a vacuum.

I watched her face. She was never stupid, even if she ended up being cold, calculating, and shallow. I was surprised to see a flash of pain mar her beauty for an instant, after which she said, 'hey...' really meaning, 'wow. I'm sorry that things aren't going well for you and I hope you're okay.' I responded, 'Welcome to McG's! Here are your menus. Tonight is ladies' night which means two for one shots. Can I get you started with some tequila maybe?' which in my mind meant, 'fuck you, you cold, callous bitch.' She got the message loud and clear.

Watching this exchange, another young woman in the group, presumably a friend of my ex, grinned. She sent me a flirtatious smile, winked, and said, 'I love tequila. Let's do it.' I understood her message. She wanted to use the tension she was seeing to her own advantage. She had her own bone to pick with my ex, and was letting me know, 'I want to fuck her over. So let's fuck.' Evidently there was some truth between these two that would be coming out sooner or later.

I walked back to the bar to get the tequila shots, wondering whether the revenge sex was worth making a cluster fuck of my work situation. I shook the idea out of my head and instead started to plot how I could use the current scenario to my financial advantage. My dick could wait. My rent could not.