Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)
TITLE: Dead Flies and Soggy Napkins
By dub W
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“Drink up or leave.” The cigarette rash voice of Wanda, the bartender, broke the silence. She picked up a fly swatter and smashed a lazy fly, then after scooping the carcass onto the floor, returned the swatter to the bar.
Jerald raised his bloodshot eyes toward the woman. “Ya can’t make me drink, it’s illegal, I learned that in AA.”
“Well, ya ain’t gonna stay on that barstool all day neither.” Wanda wiped the perspiration from her lip. Her stained yellow fingers betrayed too many years of smoking.
“What’s it to ya? Not like people are knocking down the door to get in this place.” Jerald watched a fly crawl across the rim of the glass. The fly seemed to look up at Jerald before flying on to join the brethren celebrating the fan.
“It’s early now, but come sun down, all the bums will come in with their stolen dollar and beg a shot.”
“You give’m a shot? For a buck?” That’s not bad. Jerald stop that.
“Rot gut, not like that stuff ya got before ya.” Wanda raised the swatter again but the fly identified her approach and escaped to the ceiling.
Jerald looked at the drink in front of him. He hadn’t touched it, but minutes before he paid five dollars for the liquor and ice.
“Put another chunk of ice in it.”
“What and give you a towel to soak up the overflow, no dice. It had ice, it melted. Drink it or move on. You want something else?” Wanda wiped her hands on the hips of her tight blue jeans.
“Nope, nothing you can offer.” Promises, so many promises.
Wanda reached behind the counter and brought out a can of bug spray; sprayed at the ceiling, then waved her hand at the falling mist. “I’m let’n you sit there cause there ain’t nobody else in here, and you paid for that drink.” She lit a cigarette and at the same time swatted at a fly. “But, as soon as that evening crowd comes in, you either gotta start drink’n or move on. This here’s a business.”
Wanda picked up a television remote and pushed a button. “My soap opera’s on, you care?”
Jerald didn’t listen to the sound, and he barely noticed the flickering screen. Wanda had leaned her back against the bar in order to see the television, thus faming Jerald’s drink in a sea of stretched white cloth. Jerald thought about his life, framed like the liquor, consumed by the alcohol. Why, Lord, why?
A stream from the sweating glass drifted toward Jerald. He pushed a cocktail napkin into its path to stop the flow. The napkin quickly turned from white to gray. Interesting, high life, became dull life.
Another person entered the bar and broke the monotony. Wanda sprang into action and nearly tripped trying to extinguish her cigarette and click the television to a news channel. She looked over a Jerald and gave him a ‘drink up’ sign.
Jerald pushed the drink to the back of the counter; two flies were nudged out of the way and seemed offended at the interruption. Then Jerald stood and walked toward the door.
“Leave’n?” Wanda called from the bar. She was armed with the fly swatter.
Jerald held up two fingers in a victory sign, and walked out onto the street. My life. One day at a time. Thank you Jesus. .
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