One block from my apartment is my favorite bar, Risky Pete’s. I stroll in at three in the afternoon and greet the regulars, Mel, Jackson, and Aida.
I order a round of tequila for everyone and we swap stories. Since I’m there every day and so are they, there’s not much news to share. So we drift back into our past lives, our past selves. Some of the tales we tell are true. Mostly, though, they’re not.
Mel talks about the time he played with the Tijuana Brass, in the ‘60s. He’s blind now, but he’ll pick up a swizzle stick and tap out the percussion to “Spanish Flea” against his glass if you ask him.
Jackson used to teach history down at the elementary school until the day they found him in a maintenance closet with a twelve-year-old boy. Now, he says, he’s writing his memoir. He’s hoping to get it published next year. Or maybe the year after.
Then there’s Aida. I’ve had a crush on Aida ever since we first shot up together in the women’s restroom, but she’s straight as they come. She tells us she’s going to move back in with her daughter and play nanny to her new grandson. But last I heard, Aida’s daughter had moved to Alaska and wasn’t speaking to her.
As for my story… you’ve probably heard it before. Abused by my stepfather, two kids by two different no-good men. Then I found heroin, and women. And life got a bit brighter. Except the women won’t keep me and the heroin won’t release me.
“Hey, Aida,” I call out. She’s sitting at the far end of the bar. I nod my head toward the bathroom. She smiles that cat-smile of hers. And I know it’s gonna be a good night. !