Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Goat's Head Oops


I’m not built for this kind of thing anymore, I think, hand pressed hard against my side. The cops had already cleared, leaving a floor full of broken glass and blood to clean up.

Bars—funny places. If you work in one, you know what the camouflaged stink beneath floorboards and in saturated spots in the bathrooms smells like. You know bars are filthy places. Even now, little flies flit around rows of bottles stacked behind the bar and ignore the blood spattered on the wall. I catch myself asking if flies get addicted to alcohol. Barflies. Ha ha.

I love bars. Always have. I think of this particular one as my church—here twelve years this February coming. I’ve bounced in lots of places. Once picked up a part-time gig in Denver where I had to wear a frilly shirt and bowtie. They had a reel-to-reel instead of a jukebox and played the same shit songs over and over, 80’s shit songs that made me tired. I’m no good when I’m tired. So this place is my church. It’s where I feel like I belong. I’d be cranky all the time in a nightclub or a place where bouncers wear frilly shirts and bowties.

I was thinking that very thing when I heard glass crunching under somebody’s boots and turned to see one of the assholes that had started the whole damned ruckus. The cops had missed him somehow. He must have landed unconscious behind a speaker or under a table. But now he was up, charging me, grunting, half-limping as he came on hard. Only, I did a little sidestep, extended a leg and down he went, glass scattering beneath him and sounding very much like marbles dropped on wood.

I’d noticed his bunch when they walked in. I hate when guys like them come in, guys with something ugly behind their eyes. Borderline types that don’t know when or how to die. Back when I didn’t know shit from shinola I took little notice of things like eyes, but after a couple of brouhahas that ended in a whole lot of stitches, I learned. Today I can separate the goats from the sheep. Goats have eyes that sit dark and blank, a little cloudy so you can’t see if there’s a person inside. This guy: goat for sure.

He was up as quick as he went down, his beard scraggly, graying. I could see he was crazy and suddenly I felt damned tired. Exhausted. Everything slowed around me. His hand reeled up with a blade. I grabbed his arm, two hands. He knocked me back against the bar. I ran the edge of my boot down his shins, better’n ten times, and I was shoving his arm down and away and growing real tired when I felt the blade slip in. It was warm. Didn’t hurt. I’m down on one knee then, bleeding. I can smell the place. It’s dark, filthy, and smells a lot like goat.

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