Drinks 7: Chaser

(Blind Monkey and Mute Monkey are switching series this month. Happy April Fools Day, or something like it.)

Kent stands alone behind the bar, humming an up-tempo showtune. He writes notes for a short story on an unused stretch of receipt paper. It’s Monday morning, the one time that every drunk feels too ashamed to interrupt his reverie. He’ll be alone with his thoughts until lunch. 

RENEE: Cosmos. Now.

KENT: Dear fucking god. Is this really happening?

RENEE: Ah, sorry. Cosmos, please.

KENT: How many?

TERRY: Be creative.

An amazed yet unsurprised Kent pours four Cosmos.

TERRY: Be more creative.

Kent fills a fifth glass, feeling every inch of shame missing from his customers. His grad school student loans move him to fill it to the brim. He contemplates the weight of each tip on his soul, before remembering he doesn’t believe in the human soul. And that Terry doesn’t tip.

TERRY: There’s the stuff.

RENEE: I thought you drank these as a joke.

TERRY: I’ve learned a simple lesson: everything that rich housewives enjoy is fantastic. Things like sweet drinks and day spas are designed to keep them from hanging themselves from the roof of a Michael Kors.

RENEE: I refuse to believe you know who that is.

Jason emerges from the bathroom. He takes the seat to Terry’s left.

JASON: It’s Thirsty Thursday!

RENEE: Not even close.

TERRY: Let him be. Enthusiasm is his brain’s defense mechanism against his choices.

JASON: Hey, we’re homies. Homies don’t say that.

RENEE: Well, that leaves two choices. Either the term ‘homies’ allows for constant deconstruction of your dumb actions, lifestyle, and face, or you’re just someone I use to cover the tip for these binges. I’ll let you choose for yourself.

JASON: That sounds hard.

RENEE: You can be my homie if you buy me another Cosmo.

On autopilot, Kent fills another Cosmo. He slides it down the bar, where it clinks softly against its twins.

KENT: You know, a mind’s a sad thing to waste.

RENEE: That doesn’t have anything to do with Jason.

The main door swings open, slamming against the bar wall.

RENEE: I’ve been trying to figure out how Jason reads.

Once again, the door swings open and loudly crashes against the wall.

RENEE: I used to think it was a miracle, or that he was faking it. But now I think it’s a reproducible process. And whatever process lets Jason turn letters into words is worth a buck or two. It’s about time someone took Hooked on Phonics down a peg.

The door opens, slightly more softly as the offender gets winded. A visible dent is forming in the wall.

RENEE: We know you’re there, asshole. We just don’t care.

VIC: It was a perfectly good entrance. You people have no sense of class. That’s why you’re in a bar while everyone worth a shit is dressing for work.

JASON: What do you mean ‘you people?’

KENT: You’re paying for caulk.

JASON: Why are you buying a rooster?

TERRY: You just wasted a perfectly good dick joke. Damn shame.

VIC: I have an important announcement. Take a moment to collect yourselves.

RENEE: I told them not to invite you tonight. Who snitched?

JASON: Not me! Snitches get snitches.

TERRY: You mean stitches. I hope.

JASON: No man, snitches. They get hit with the glowy things from Harry Potter. It’s a pretty bad way to go.

RENEE: But…you’ve used the normal expression before. You can’t be getting dumber. It’s not possible.

JASON: Everything is possible! I learned that from a novel. It’s a magical realist piece from the 1990’s, about a sentient machine that learns it can do anything through belief. He creates a psychic mantra that lets him achieve his goals and desires. We could all stand to be a bit more like Thomas the Tank Engine.

TERRY: That book is responsible for two generations of kids that think reality bends around inflated egos.

VIC: I’ve decided to allow someone to become my girlfriend.

TERRY: Case in point.

RENEE: My heart’s breaking. False alarm, it’s cirrhosis of the liver.

JASON: Who is it?

TERRY: I’m curious too. This sounds like a laugh riot.

VIC: I don’t know yet, tryouts are next weekend. I’d appreciate it if all of you could hand out a few fliers.

TERRY: I observe your bullshit. I don’t participate in it. Besides, convincing any girl that you’re a worthwhile human being for any length of time has to be some kind of rape. I have to draw the line somewhere.

RENEE: I was considering helping, but I can’t have a lower moral line than Terry. That’d put me on whatever watchlist he’s stuck on.

TERRY: At least the FBI, if anyone’s doing their job.

VIC: Think about everything I’ve done for you people.

The bar is silent, save Jason rocking his stool back and forth.

VIC: I went to one of Renee’s plays!

RENEE: You wanted to sleep with the stage manager. I actually tried to make it happen, but you made the tactical mistake of talking.

VIC: I was going to let her sleep with me. But she turned out to be a bad listener. That’s why these tryouts are important.

Renee picks up a flier.

RENEE: This is what OkCupid profiles look like in hell.

TERRY: Pass one here.

VIC: Give him thirty. He can cover the Freshman Dorms.

RENEE: You really defied convention with these. Instead of shirtless photos showing off a six-pack, you went with an anorexic teenager’s featureless stomach. Very out-of-the-box.

VIC: In case you’ve forgotten, I’m a scientist. And science says that shirtless photos draw larger crowds of women. Particularly photos of slender, otter-like physiques.

TERRY: Otters are lean. You’re bony. It’d be hard not to snap something on you in a fight, or a handshake.

VIC: That reminds me: I need to add a single combat event to the tryouts. I don’t need a woman that can’t defend herself.

RENEE: I have an aunt that needs a green card. How’s that?

VIC: She can audition like everyone else.

KENT: Before Asshole Theater enters act two, I should ask: anyone lose a black wallet? I found this under the beer pong tables on Saturday.

Kent places a slim leather wallet on the counter.

TERRY: No, but this sounds more interesting than Vic’s thing.

RENEE: I’ve been looking all over for that! Thanks Kent.

KENT: You had yours out two minutes ago. It was red, and only held lint and a bent debit card.

RENEE: This is why I don’t tip.

JASON: My mom said that people who don’t tip go to hell. Which was weird, because we weren’t Christian. Maybe hell is just a state of mind, like confusion, or needing to use the bathroom, or Michigan.

TERRY: Michigan-

RENEE: Doesn’t matter. Wallet now. Me, give.

VIC: Do you think the basketball court’s big enough for all the auditionees?

TERRY: Your thing’s old news, like New Coke. We have an unclaimed wallet to consider.

RENEE: It’s not unclaimed. I’m claiming it. It is claimed.

JASON: Isn’t that stealing?

RENEE: I fail to see how this is relevant.

TERRY: It’s about standards. Terry Pratchett had a point about the difference between morals and standards. I don’t feel the former too often, but I try to keep the latter around. And I’d rather be a broke sack of shit than a thieving sack of shit stealing from other sacks of shit.

RENEE: Stealing sacks of shit can afford tequila that wasn’t fermented in a sack of shit.

VIC: Why are we talking about shit instead of my plan?

Jason: Batman says that the citizens of the ideal city wouldn’t steal. It’s one of the divisions between the gold and silver citizens…wait, I think that’s Plato. Or Aristotle. Someone dead and Greek. But I don’t think Batman likes stealing either. And Robin says that philosopher-kings should run society.

RENEE: Kent, give me the wallet.

VIC: I have some color fliers too.

TERRY: Don’t give her anything, or take anything from him. We’re not thieves.

RENEE: You’re using those plural pronouns pretty liberally.

TERRY: Some guys tried to rob me about a week ago. The joke was on them: I was destitute. No cash, maxed out credit cards, the works.

VIC: That’s sad. You should have taken my investment advice.

TERRY: I’m fucking around with you, I’d left my wallet at home. I bent the biggest mugger’s arm into a nice Z-shape, and the rest lost their interest in my smartphone. I like to think that they learned a lesson.

VIC: Sounds fair. Now, back to the tryouts. Where do you buy bikini oil?

RENEE: Really Terry? You crippled someone so that you can screen your calls and play Calculords on the bus?

TERRY: Spare me. That’s the same breed of reheated pseudo-engaged bullshit that my cousin spews. The fact is that they were scum and I was bored.

JASON: Boredom isn’t a legal defense.

TERRY: This is a new idiot trick. You’ve learned to say things that are factually correct, but still idiotic. I’m impressed.

JASON: You don’t sound like a homie right now.

TERRY: I’m going to tell you the same thing I told my cousin before getting thrown out of the family reunion: when someone goes after what’s yours, you don’t spend two week’s debating their troubled upbringing in the slums of Whogivesafuck City, New Jersey. You take their head off before they take yours. You’re in the right, so you can savor every punch, knee, elbow, and crowbar. It’s the way of things, and the sooner you accept it the longer you’ll survive outside of the campus dining hall.

VIC: I’m sure we all agree that taxation is theft. But we have a project here.

TERRY: Here’s what I think about your shit-eating project-

RENEE: Oh no, we always listen to your fucking rants. You don’t get two today, you’re going to hear someone else out. We take the money. We take that money and we spend the shit out of it. Do you think I don’t know the score? I’m theatre arts major whose voice still cracks. Unless one of my plays takes off instead of, say, Shrek The Musical 2: Ogre Time, student loans are going to hover over me until I die. Which is marginally better than the loans that are going to hover over grad school boy’s family for a few hundred years. We’re going to take this money and buy liquor until the future sounds like a foreign word. If we’re lucky, one of us might die before society catches up to us. God knows I’m doing my best. Because this is the best entertainment that modern life offers us. Sitting in a dingy hole, drinking poison with four people that belittle each other like it’s a sport. And I keep coming back because it’s all I have on this campus, and without it I’d be drinking rum with a side order of sleeping pills. The wallet’s ours.

JASON: Who died and made you smarter than everyone else’s intelligence? We should leave that wallet alone. It belongs to someone who wakes up, dresses, skips class, drinks heavily, and falls asleep under his picture of Snoop like the rest of us. How would you feel if someone found your picture of the Dogfather and never gave it back? It’d be horrifying. If someone took my picture of Snoop, I’d shoot everyone on this campus. Like a shooter that goes to schools. There was one at my school, and a stray bullet took me out of baseball. But that didn’t get me down because I had Snoop, and he told me to chill. And I still chill today, instead of being silently resentful or something dumb like that. He invented internal rhyme you know. So yeah, we should give back the wallet.

VIC: You can babble about suicide and mass murder later. I came here with a perfectly valid topic for tonight…this morning, whatever. We were going to help some lucky soul discover the gift of Vic. It’s practically community service, and I brought it to you. I’d have even tolerated your half-assed attempts at humor if we’d gotten this simple task done. But you refuse to take this seriously. Nobody understands what I bring to the table. They find it easier to laugh and bask in their own ignorance. Even monkey-boy over here gives me guff from time to time. I deserve more than this. In fact, I deserve whatever’s in that bloody wallet. People are going to learn to give me respect, and soon. Or at least wish that they had. Especially the women.

TERRY: I was just going to make a dick joke.

KENT: Well, this has been horrifying. None of your awful opinions matter, because it’s bar policy to turn in lost wallets.

Kent opens the wallet and glances at the driver’s license.

KENT: It’s Jason’s.

He passes the wallet to Jason, who wordlessly accepts.

JASON: He…said it was black. This is more of a dark blue.

RENEE: I’m going home.

TERRY: Me too.


VIC: God damn it! You people have work to do! Do these flyers look like they have wings? Are you even listening? At least take a handful before you walk out the door!

Vic is the last member of the group left standing in the Snark is the Night. He finally acknowledges Kent’s existence.

VIC: Can I put these up on the bulletin board?

KENT: Not even one.

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