Bruised Midnight Cheek

It’s time to go home — when you see your watch hands clinging together, aiming north, when one day dominoes into another  — it’s time to get out of your seat and put your hat on and head out into the teeming, busy night. But you want to stay and have one (two?) more. It’s warm in here, at least. You have work in the morning. Your dog is waiting by its bowl.  It’s been such a long day though, and the nights are so short.

The jukebox has run out of songs to play and there’s a pall in the air that make nursing homes seem lively. You start to think about people you used to know and wonder what they’re doing right now.  You suspect if they were to play this game, they’d picture you in a bar much like the one you’re malingering in right now.

There’s a diminutive Central American woman outside making pupusas.  The smell is being carried into the bar and is calling you.  It’s an indescribable smell that you are trying to place, the history of conquered natives tickling your nose hairs.  You’re in an inebriated diaspora, wavering between good and bad, the modern world and a primitive rabbit hole. The bartender is looking at you with a patient smile and you can’t tell who’s more bored, you or him?

Your cheek hurts, like you got punched in it, it’s from smoking American Spirits. “Yeah, I’ll have one more,”  you announce, checking your watch again.  It’s only 12:15, you tell yourself.

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