Hog’s Head

August 9, 2012 at 1:57 am (Guest Blogger) (, , , , , , )

A Short Story by E.B. Jones

I stepped onto the train and made my way past the vomit stains and broken arm rests to the cleanest looking chair and sat down. The whole car smelled like a mixture of bourbon and puke. Bums would use the trains to go from one part of town to the other because the ticket man spent more time watching his personal DVD player than he did actually checking tickets.
I made sure I had one though because they usually hired men a lot bigger than me, and if for some reason he had decided to go out and check tickets then they would no doubt have a man working that could throw my ass off the train. I’d seen them do it a time or two and it looked pretty painful.
See, the bums would panhandle for awhile on the east side of town and when people eventually started to recognize them and stopped giving them money, like they had a quota per person that once they reached they could no longer be charitable anymore. Once the generosity dried up in one area the bums would ride the trains to another part of town where people didn’t recognize them. They would continue to do this until they eventually made their way around the whole city, which took about a year and a half. By the time they got to the area they started in, most people had completely forgotten that they existed. I sometimes think people don’t give bums enough credit, they make more than the people out there working some shit minimum wage job; they just woke up one morning and realized that dignity is more overrated than being without.
The train pulled up to the main station downtown and stopped with a loud hiss. I stood up and headed towards the door. The guy checking tickets never came out, so I could have saved six bucks, but it was all right, I had just gotten paid so it wasn’t going to hurt me too much.
I stepped down onto the platform and took a moment to breathe in the sick sad air that was around me. I felt like it understood me and knew what I was thinking, stuck in a city ready to poison you at every turn but having no way to get out, and not really wanting too.
I walked down the sidewalk and passed a bunch of shops that were never open after five o’clock. I was surprised at the amount of shops that had strange little nick knacks like ceramic baby dolls kissing or glass cuckoo clocks for ridiculous amounts of money. I had to wonder how shops like that stayed in business whenever they were only open from Monday through Friday from ten to five. Then again most pencil pushers that worked the nine to five wouldn’t have been able to afford that kind of crap. I had walked about ten blocks whenever I realized that my thoughts had gotten away with me but I was still downtown and found myself in front of an open sign. Another sign above the door said “Liberty” with the word “bar” underneath it in smaller letters. It was just a blacked out glass door in a red brick wall so I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to be getting into but I decided to go inside anyway.
The room I was in was awe-inspiring. The lights were all black lights reflecting greens, reds, oranges and purples. The entire place was crawling with boys that looked like girls and girls that looked like pigs. They all wore black with little accents of red and white here and there and drank bloody marys. The jukebox said something about how it didn’t belong here, and neither did I.
I was already inside and had been standing for some time so I decided to stay and have a drink. I walked up to the bar and sat down for a minute or two before the bartender came from the back room. I figured he must have been in the back changing out kegs.
“What can I get you?”
“Whiskey.”
“Fuck man, finally someone orders something other than a god damn bloody mary!” bartender said in a heavy north eastern accent, I’m guessing he was from somewhere in New York like Brooklyn. I think I remember a movie that was based there and he sounded like they did. He was also the only person not dressed like he came out of some Edgar Allen Poe story or an Emily Dickenson poem.
“Don’t get much of that here?”
“No man, all these fucking goth kids. This bar used to be a nice place but then we got this new owner. Draconia she calls herself, real fucking character she is. Anyway, all her friends started coming and apparently spreading the word that this was the hip new place for goth’s to hang out.”
“So why don’t you quit?”
“Honestly?” He asked me, “It pays good and I hate having to look for a job.”
“Where’s my whiskey?”
“What?”
“Where is my whiskey?” I said a bit louder. It was kind of hard to hear with Robert Smith trying to own the conversation.
“Oh shit man, sorry.” He turned and poured my whiskey and then set it down in front of me.
“What I wouldn’t give to have the old place back.” He had a look of reminiscence on his face, like a child remembering his first puppy.
“So why not open your own place?” I wasn’t sure if this guy was just looking to talk or actually looking for some direction.
“Well you know, that’s kind of difficult and you have to go through so much paperwork and all that. I just don’t know if I could actually pull it off really.” His words came out slowly. He didn’t seem to have much self confidence. I was bored with him now. I continued the conversation for a little longer because I felt obliged too but was well ready for one of those poorly dressed vampires to come up and order a bloody mary so he would stop talking to me. Finally some skinny boy and his pet pig walked up to the bar. The bartender was still talking to me so I coughed and hinted that someone was there. He walked over and asked what they wanted. Bloody mary’s, of course. I downed the rest of my drink and ducked out as quickly as I could so he wouldn’t try to talk to me anymore. I didn’t bother with paying my tab, I figured my company was enough.
I started going up the street again. I didn’t want to go into another goth bar but I didn’t figure that would be too much of a problem, maybe if I was in New York or Los Angeles but I doubt there was another goth bar for a few hundred miles. I also didn’t want to go into a dive bar or a dance bar or a honky tonk bar or really any kind of bar for that matter. I didn’t like bars.
The only reason I was even out tonight was because I wanted to write something, but I had nothing to write about. The one thing I wanted more than anything was to be a great writer, like Hemingway. The difference between Hemingway and I was that he actually went out there and did stuff. He was stuck in the hospital for months for wounds he received in the war when he carried another man out of danger and into safety. He told the world about the running of the bulls in Pamplona. He lived in Paris. Me, I worked in a sports bar on the north side of town and once I got off work most nights I would go home, heat up a tv dinner, grab a beer, watch television for a bit and then sit at a computer staring at a blank page and drink until I passed out.
Sometimes I thought that maybe if I ever met a woman then my life would change. A whirlwind of a woman who would draw me out of my seclusion. Once I met her I would be on the adventure of my life, and then I would write non-stop. The only problem was that I didn’t like going places alone and I didn’t like meeting new people. I also didn’t really know anyone around town so I never really went anywhere but for some reason tonight I decided I was going to go out.
I was just about to head back to the train and my apartment whenever I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was a wooden cut out of a pig with faded paint that told me the building it was attached too was called “Hog’s Head” and that if I went inside I could expect to drink cocktails and to dance with beautiful women. Maybe she was in there, and she would pull me out of my shell. I stood for a moment thinking on whether I should go inside or not and finally decided that one drink wouldn’t hurt, so I walked across the street and went into the bar. It had a patio on the outside that was fenced off and the entrance to it had one of those old saloon style half doors that you always saw in the westerns. The actual door inside wasn’t as exciting because it was just glass with a handle and only opened outwards. The patio doors swung both ways.
The place was pretty packed and it took me a few minutes before I was able to find a seat. A fat man in flannel got up from the bar and started walking towards me. He bumped into me and half mumble, half burped something at me then stumbled out the door. I darted up to the seat and lifted my finger to get a drink.
I noticed a flash of very light yellow just to my right so I instinctively looked over to see what it was. A blond woman was standing next to me and I looked her up and down. She had on a tight white shirt that barely covered her breasts and a plaid skirt that covered some fishnet stockings. She wasn’t my type really, but she did seem to have a nice ass.
“What are you doing here stranger?”
“Trying to get a drink I suppose.”
I really had no interest in her, but I figured I had no interest in even being there in the first place, but there I was so I must have had some interest in her simply by default. Like I said, she wasn’t my type, but it had been awhile and she looked good enough.
“Well aren’t we all doing that.”
“Looks like it to me.”
“My name is Beth.”
“Nice to meet you Beth.” I didn’t bother looking directly at her, I’d heard at one point somewhere that if you didn’t pay much attention to women it would drive them crazy. They felt insulted but enthralled that you wouldn’t look at them. In my experience that advice never really held true though. If I ignored a woman and didn’t pay much attention to them they didn’t pay much attention to me either. Besides, if I had looked directly at her I probably would have ended up just staring at her tits.
“And you are?” she was starting to get a little bit pissed so I decided to indulge her a bit. I got my drink and turned my chair towards her.
“Pierce.” I said raising my glass.
“Nice to meet you Pierce.” She raised her glass and clanked it against mine.
“So Pierce,” she said with her eyes all-glistening at me. I hated whenever people said my name to me, I saw no sense in it, I knew my name already, you don’t have to tell me my name. Unless she thought I might think that she might have been talking to someone else but she was obviously looking at me so it was stupid, “What do you do?”
“Mostly drink.”
“Well don’t we all? I mean what do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
She seemed to get really excited about that, “Oh, what do you write? Have I ever read anything?”
“I doubt it.” I didn’t just doubt it because I’d never really written anything and subsequently had never been published but also because she looked to be about as dumb as a sack of bricks and probably hadn’t read anything in her life other than some article on 69 New Ways To Please Your Man in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan.
“Well, I went to modeling school.” she said, seeming to think that by knowing that she went to modeling school once would do something to impress me.
“Ah.”
“Well it wasn’t all glamor and clothes and shoes and stuff, I mean it was hard work.”
I actually believed her that it was hard work, with a brain like hers I’m sure walking down a catwalk was a difficult task. Don’t get me wrong; I had full intentions of fucking what little brains she had out of her but would I call her tomorrow? By no means. She was about as shallow as piss on concrete and did nothing to stimulate conversation. But the attractive intelligent girls only had about a two day waiting period before someone snatched them up and I wasn’t interested in someone that was less fortunate looking than I was because I was pretty unfortunate looking myself.
“See we have to walk straight down the catwalk and we half to…” I listened and listened to her blabber about how difficult walking was and then suddenly, salvation, in the strangest form came to me.
A large fist the size of a grapefruit came between us and actually made a small dent in the aluminum bar. I slowly looked up and saw the flannel man that had bumped into me before. He was clearly disturbed by the fact that I was sitting in the seat he had once been sitting in.
“What in the god damn hell you think you’re doing boy?” he snarled at me like a bull about to charge the matador. If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn that steam came out of his nose.
“Drinking?” I wasn’t sure what answer he was looking for.
“You’re in my seat and talking to my god damned woman.” His arm wrapped around the blond ex-almost model next to me. I thought about how she probably wasn’t a model anymore because she had gotten too fat for it. He started talking again, “Are you talking to my woman here?”
I started to answer him and let him know that she initiated the conversation but he wasn’t hearing any of it and cut me off.
“You don’t say shit son!”
Now I could tell he was angry. A vein popped out of his forehead and he snorted at me, “You’re a no good god damned son of a bitch.”
“Look man I’m not…”
He grabbed me by the throat, choking me off and yanking me up from the bar stool. The only real thought that went through my head was that I was in quite a bit of pain right now and probably about to be in even more pain very shortly. His hand moved around to the back of my shirt and he pulled me the rest of the way out of my chair and drug me across the floor. I raised my hand as to order another drink; the bartender just stared with a blank expression and polished a glass.
We went through the bar and out the boring door and then out the saloon style doors and into the parking lot. One of the saloon style doors almost hit me while it swung back. Finally he let go of me and I was able to breathe for a second. Then he kicked me in the stomach and told me to get up. This giant mans logic must have been replaced by muscle because getting up was not the easiest or the best option, but it’s what he wanted and I did not want to get anymore on this guys bad side than I already was.
I stood up with one arm around my stomach and the other stretched out so that just in case he tried to rush me I might accidentally have the strength to fend him off. I got my footing once my eyes stopped spinning and I was able to see straight across the parking lot,with just enough time to see a big pasty peach colored brick shaped like a closed up hand come towards my face. It made contact with my upper jaw and nose and I flew up into the air for a minute and then was back on the ground again.
The landing actually hurt worse than the punch did, but the punch had done more damage. I was spitting up blood on the parking lot. I noticed a tooth had fallen out of my mouth and was sitting on the ground. I grabbed the tooth and stood up just as the lumberjack had grabbed me by my hair and pulled me back up. I slid the tooth into my pocket about the same time his fist came across my left eye. I fell to the ground again without him letting go of my hair. I didn’t bother trying to get up after that. I just lay there motionless, hoping that he would assume I was finished with and just leave.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the blond almost model came out and kissed him and they walked off together. Less than ten minutes ago I was convinced I was going to get laid and now I was just laying on the ground bleeding. I laughed a little bit at the irony of it all and watched them walk away. She did had a nice ass.
I waited awhile until after they left in case he decided to come back for more before I got up and walked back into the bar. I made my way to the men’s room and then took my missing tooth out and examined it for a bit. I was going to need a dentist to put it back in. The mirror told me that my face was smeared with blood and gravel and warned me that I should probably put an ice pack on my eye or it would swell up nice and big like an eggplant. I washed my face as best I could but the black eye and the busted nose and the swollen lip just wouldn’t wash away. The empty seat was still there once I left the bathroom so I went up and sat down.
“Are you all right?” The bartender asked me with some concern, “Do I need to call the cops or the hospital or anything?”
“No it’s fine,” I said, “just get me a whiskey.”

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