Sunday, January 31, 2010

Belated thank you

I saw your obituary in today’s paper

I thought back 10 years ago to the day our relationship ended

how you packed your bags that day and left to find

whatever it was

that you couldn’t find with me

and now you’re dead

what a sad day today would have been for me

if you had stayed


I don’t feel so bad

I guess I have you to thank for that.

Cheeseburger in my big, fat, greasy, American hands.

“Mine, mine, mine, all mine”

Mike would yell, imitating Daffy Duck, as the five of us split up the night’s tips.

It was 5am and anybody any of us could have skanked had left a half-hour ago.

We were alone.

We each sipped our beer, did one more shot of Crown, snorted one more line and grabbed a bottle or a six-pack from behind the bar.

We would share a hotel room and an eight ball and play poker on the mattress until 8am when the police had stopped looking for the after-hour drunks.

Every hand Mike won he would scoop the change and shout, “mine, mine, mine all mine”

until it became so annoying that we had to tell him to shut up or leave.

By 7am the hotel kitchen would be open for room service and we would call down for cheeseburgers.

This wasn’t breakfast for us, this was a weekly all-nighter and the kitchen knew it.

They also knew we were lit and drunk and at least one of us was flush and would tip well.

So it’s 7am and a still made hotel room bed is covered with cheeseburgers and fries and beer and blow and cards and money that smelled like bar swill

and we didn’t give a fuck.

Because each of us had come to terms with our lives a long time ago.

We weren’t 20 something’s thrilled to be alive.

We were 30 or 40 something’s squeezing what we could from what was left.

At 8am we called it a shift and finished with a blast to sober us for the ride home, threw a hundred on the bed for the maid and went our separate ways.

Within a year the two brothers that owned the bar would get into cocaine fueled fight over money. One brother would kill the other with a shotgun and the other would go to prison.

The club closed.

Within a few years Mike would be dead of a heart attack.

I’m still here.

Every now and then I hear Mike whispering to me

“You big, fat, stupid bastard, it was mine, mine the whole time”

“Now it’s yours“

”Don’t fuck it up“

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I'm a painter, a writer, a teacher, a museum professional, a husband and a father. I have been a sailor, a computer tech, a bartender, a bouncer, a sommelier, a manager, a lover, a cad, a drunk, a smoker, an asshole and a friend but more than anything I am a watcher that collects experiences, characters memories and stories.