Carla lit the
end of her cigarette and sucked in deeply. The tobacco tasted spicy
on her tongue. She pulled the smoke into her lungs and let it warm
her chest before blowing blue clouds out through her nose and mouth.
It was bitch-cold tonight. She took another drag. Time to go in
before her snot froze all the way to her brain.
Stubbing the butt out with her boot, Carla swung
open the bar door. She sidled up to a stool and scanned the
chalkboard for specials.
“Gimme a Bud,” she ordered, flicking a coaster
down the empty counter. Longnecks for a buck, not a bad deal. She
looked around the dimly lit room, the puddles of shadows, the
cracked jukebox blasting Hell’s Bells. “Either this place is a
real pisshole or you got an advertising problem. How the hell do you
stay in business?”
The bartender picked up Carla’s coaster and
plunked a beer bottle on top of it. “Oh, it’ll pick up later in
the night.” He pointed to a sign as she pulled out a pack of
cigarettes. “There’s no smoking in here.”
Carla dropped the pack on the counter. “What
kind of bar doesn’t let you smoke?”
“Sorry,” he shrugged. “So what brings you
Carla took a swig of her beer. “Dunno. Just got
sick and tired of the same old shit, I guess.”
“Yeah, I hear you,” he answered, racking a
crate of empty bottles. “You wouldn’t believe how much I get
that around here. Same old shit — it’s not much of an answer. My
shit’s different than your shit’s different than the shit
sitting out on the road.”
“Nobody’s that interested anyway.” Carla
reached over to a basket of pretzels on the table next to her and
crammed a handful in her mouth.
“Not much to tell,” she mumbled, swallowing.
“Caught my old boyfriend cheating on me with some ho. Bastard gave
me AIDS — well, HIV really. But it’s not gonna make no
difference seeing as how I can’t afford any of them pills.” She
reached for her cigarettes.
“Wow, that’s some deep shit,” the bartender
replied, taking the pack from her. “So what happened to the
“You ain’t from around here, are you, Bar Boy?”
She gulped another swallow of her beer and reached for more
“Why do you say that?” He put the cigarettes
down and turned to get her a fresh basket.
“Too many damn questions. Like I said, people
’round here aren’t into each other’s shit.” Carla pulled out
one of her cigarettes, lit the end of the stick while his back was
turned. “So, where you from anyway?”
“L.A.,” he answered. “Used to be a waiter in
Beverly Hills. Talk about the same old shit — whole lotta silicone
junkies and lap dogs, all of ’em pumped up on drugs and booze so
they can cope instead of live. I wanted to meet some real people,
people who weren’t just existing, you know?” He turned and
placed the basket in front of her. “So I came out here.”
“And?” she wanted to know.
“And,” he mused, taking the cigarette from her
mouth. He put it to his lips and took a deep drag. “And.”
is presently writing a collection of vignettes, to be titled
Ordinary Lives. Her recent work can be found online at Prose Ax, The
Independent Mind, Orchard Press Mysteries, and The Paumanok Review.
Her current print work will appear in upcoming issues of Mindprints,
The Guild, and FUTURES. She is also an editor at the new e-zine flashquake.