“fuck him!” I shouted, throwing my cell phone at the wall. “that shit juggling circus monkey- argghh!”
I looked around for something else to throw. There was my drink, but I wanted that. I needed that.
“that cocksucker’s been trying to get me in trouble ever since I started dating you.”
“NO! that’s it!”
I kicked over a chair and flipped the kitchen table.
“first he told the fuckin’ cops I was selling blow when I was bartending at Quiggey’s, and now he’s telling them I over-served his friend?! Are you fuckin’ kidding me? If his friend can’t handle his liquor, he shouldn’t order it. Fuck! I feel bad for the poor kid, but you can’t tell me I’m responsible for his death. FUCK that! I didn’t shove him into his car, turn the key and ram his foot on the gas. That was his own choice. Good or bad, it was his own, not mine! Oh, these fuckin’ laws! ARGGHHHH!! This fuckin’ state, this COUNTRY!! What the hell is happening to this fuckin’ country?”
“Jack, please calm down. You’ll be fine. Everything will work out. It always does, remember?”
“Nobody takes any responsibility for their actions anymore. It’s a country full of cocksuckers! That’s what it is. Litigious, pathetic cocksuckers, and it’s ruining America. Hell, it’s ruining the whole world, that’s what it’s doing! The whole world- the world is a cocksucker!”
I stopped for a second, looked over at her. The thought of her being with that sub-human excuse for a man who’d ratted me out to the police for something I probably hadn’t even done, it made me feel worse than anything.
“Jane,” I snarled. “let’s be honest with each other. This bastard is out to get me. He always has been. I’ve known that, but this is different. Now he’s telling his cop friends bullshit about me? Bullshit that they’re believing!”
“you said it before, Jack. They don’t have any proof because you didn’t do any of it. It’ll all blow over.”
“but look at the way it works these days. These people, this community. They don’t care about proof. They don’t care about justice. Not when it comes to alcohol. They just wanna see somebody hang. They’ll go after the driver first. If he’s dead, then they’ll go after the server, then the establishment. It’s all greed, that’s what it is. Fuck, though. It’s always been like this, right? It’s just never been my ass in the hot seat. Not this hot.”
I clenched my teeth and bent my head and clawed at the back of my neck.
“ARRGGHHHHH! I’m SO, FUCKING ANGRY!!”
I looked around for something else to destroy but then decided against it.
“and now I don’t even have a goddamn phone again! I’m always ruining my fucking phones!!”
I drank my drink down and poured another but they were doing nothing. I rehashed the conversation I’d had with that cop, Officer Dipshit.
“we have a witness that said he saw you serving the kid that night.”
A fucking witness? It was a packed bar and I was doing my job. I was serving drinks. I’d imagine there was more than one guy out of two hundred that saw me serving drinks.
“I may have served him. I really don’t know. I don’t know the kid you’re talking about, though. I don’t even recognize his last name, from having a tab or anything.”
“well, the witness, who says he knows you, said he saw you serving the kid.”
“well, sir, who exactly said they saw me serving him? Because lots of people seem to know me, but I don’t know any of them. Maybe by face I’d know them, but, I mean, come on. It’s not like I
know everybody who comes into the bar. I might pretend like I do, but I really don’t. Besides, if this witness saw me serving the kid, why didn’t- if he was friends with him, why did he let him go and drive off, huh? Sounds like a shitty friend to me.”
“I can’t tell you names, um, Jack. But listen, we’re gonna need you to come down to the station tomorrow and give a written report. We’ll probably want to ask some more questions, too.”
And I’m probably gonna want to shit in between the layers of your lasagna.
“well, do whatever you gotta do, officer-”
“oh, sorry. I don’t know much about the ranking system you guys have.”
“just be expecting a call soon, okay?”
“yeah, sure,” I said, “whatever.”
“hey, you know what? You have a real bad attitude and it’s gonna get you in trouble someday. Maybe someday soon.”
“well, you know what, officer? A bad attitude never killed a kid.”
That was when I hung up the phone and threw it at the wall. I took a few deep breaths and then ploughed through the rest of my drink.
“I think it’s time.”
“time for what?”
I narrowed my eyes and looked sideways at her for a moment.
“time for me to get the fuck outta here.”
I went about picking up the table and arranging the chairs. I didn’t bother with the phone. I’ve broken enough phones to know just how hard they have to hit something to be unfixable, and I threw it plenty hard.
“where will you go?”
“where will I go? I was thinking it would be more like, ‘where will we go?’”
“Jack, I have a life here. Everything I know is here. My job, my family, my friends. I can’t just run off. It’s not that easy.”
I had this soul patch on my face. Most of my friends made fun of me because of it, called me a fag and things like that. But I really couldn’t help rubbing it with the tip of my index finger when I had to think to pretty hard. And my eyes always just darted around the room like I was trying to follow a fly. Finally they settled back on Jane. I knew I’d miss her. But sometimes you get those feelings like you just gotta get outta someplace.
If I left, I knew I’d be in trouble. But if I stayed, I knew I’d be in a lot more trouble. It was pretty exciting, knowing I was about to be on the run. I’ll bet it was mostly the bourbon that made it exciting, though. But think of all those times when you’re young and you get in trouble and you’re sitting around with your friends and somebody says, “well, there’s always Mexico.” Like Mexico was this place of ultimate freedom. Like it was sneaking into heaven.
“maybe I’ll go to Mexico, babe.”
Jane burst out laughing.
“Mexico? Mexico, Jack? You’re not even in trouble yet. The cops just want to talk to you. You haven’t even been charged with anything!”
“Janers, I just have a bad feeling about all of this.”
“you always have bad feelings about things. And besides, since when do you follow every single one of your feelings?”
“Jane,” I said, “don’t downplay this. I could be in real deep shit. I’ve heard of this happening before. To bartenders, even a waitress of two. They get fucked by the law because some state or town wants to make an example of them. You know, show the world that they’re cracking down, being safe, being responsible. God, I hate that word. It’s all politics. It’s this whole War on Fun thing.”
“oh, god,” Jane sighed. She hated when I went off about this thing I referred to as the War on Fun.
“Jack, at least-“
Poor Janie. She knew me better than I knew myself, but I’d never admit it to her. I was just too stubborn, especially after jumping on the whiskey train.
“you’re not gonna talk me outta this.”
“well, what about us? This is it? We’re through, just like that?”
There I was, rubbing that soul patch again. It pissed me off that she didn’t wanna just up and leave, too. We’d been together for a while. It seemed like I was about to embark on this big, important life-changing journey, and she was just like, “nah, fuck it. I’m not interested.”
“I can’t stay here, babe. I just can’t. Not in this town, not anymore. I’ve had too many brushes with the law over things like this. I feel like I’m pushing my luck.”
She stood there, shaking her head.
“I’ve gotta get outta here, Jane,” I said, a smile creeping onto my face. “they’re...after me.”
My smile grew and grew and was a tell all smile which she’d seen a hundred times before.
“you lunatic,” she yelled. “are you serious? You’re such a weirdo!”
The smile turned into this big shit – eating grin. The cat was out. I began to laugh and then sniffle because the laughter was making my nose run. I pulled out the seat I’d knocked over and sat down in it. The laughter wouldn’t quit. For minutes on end I banged on the table and slapped my thighs and gasped for breath.
“was that- are you just- was that even the cops on the phone?”
I laughed louder and finally leaned my head back and began to roar. The tears ran down my face and I didn’t even wipe them away. Why wipe away tears of joy?
“you know you broke your phone, remember? It IS broken. Was that all part of your joke, too?”
She came over to the table with the phone. The back had fallen off and the battery was out and the screen was shattered. I brought it to my ear and shook it. Anytime a phone rattles when it didn’t before, that means it’s broke beyond repair. This one rattled like a bastard.
“aarrrgggghhhh! I always break my phones!” I shouted through my laughter.
“Jack, that was, like, a two hundred dollar phone. You don’t even have insurance anymore!”
“ahhh godd!! I know. I know it, Janers! Ahhhh!”
She pulled out a chair and sat down across the table.
“and why do you always have to bring up my ex boyfriends?”
“oh, come on! I was just joking around!”
“well, Jack, some things aren’t as funny to me as they are to you.”
I knew that was true.
“all right, all right. Sorry, babe. Well, what do you wana do tonight?”
She stared at me and shook her head. I figured she was putting some serious thought into why the hell she put up with me. I didn’t wanna give her too much time to realize she didn’t have an answer.
“let’s hit the bars, babe. A drink couldn’t hurt, right?”