Carl, if a high school baseball injury hadn’t blown his shoulder, he would have given himself a pat on the back. The early morning cab ride more than paid for with last night’s tip haul. So while he only lived twelve blocks away, who needs a walk of shame when you can ride baby ride.
And Lisa or Linda or whatever it was, she had been all over him last night. Carl, not sure if loosening up patrons with free shots was some unethical fucking flirtation. Decided, fuck it, I’m the man. Decided, tips and tail what more was there? Decided, life is nothing but looking for satisfaction.
Oh damn, Carl wanted her bad. And while Lisa or Linda or whatnot had been a looker, this broad was a dime piece. Straight red hair hiding one eye and lips like inner tubes and totally looking like the real life Jessica Rabbit. One big problem, his drill wasn’t working for shit. He sent her free drink after free drink. First vodka cranberries. Then craziness like Jolly Jumpers and Pit Bulls on Crack, all about displaying his bartending prowess.
She took the drinks no problem. Thing was, anytime Carl stopped to chat her up, all the dude got was a one word answer or maybe a shoulder shrug. When she cut out hours before last call, hours before the end of his shift, Carl was burning for her. No ass, no number but still, she left a killer tip.
With a shit crowd, Carl pocketed some tabs. Old men with cheap drinks and tipping in little stacks of coins. Him just looking for a few more bucks to make the night worthwhile. To be honest, looking for a little kick. Or satisfaction. To be honest, whatever. And when, just as he slipped an illegitimate fiver in his pants, a hand—all braided with arthritis—grabbed him. When that happened, to be honest, Carl nearly shit.
Kid, the guy said. Kid, would it trouble you much helping this sauced ol’ feller to a cab? And what could Carl say? So bony paw on his forearm, Carl walked the dude out towards the street. Keep with it and surely you’re gonna lose the job, the guy said. And stopping Carl to look both way before he crossed the street, he said, Better to live in fear than to die in fear. Carl thinking, that’s a point. But when the guy tipped him half a dollar and a yellow grin, Carl thinking, fuck that. Anyways, his rent was past due.
If there was anything like karma in this world, Carl figured he’d get it good as the pretty boy over there. Asshole flanked by a couple prospects and flashing a wad like tomorrow was impossible. With Carl, bringing over round after round and getting a plastic thank you and a shit eating grin. Whatever, dude was just lucky.
Hump Day Hooch Night had Carl all over with half-priced well drinks. The place busy like an Eskimo Pie left near an anthill. And every time he looked up from a bottle of grenadine or a pearl onion he caught that jerk off smiling a smile and laughing a laugh and acting like tonight was just par for the course. But if this weren’t a drink special night, if Carl had room enough to maneuver, the dude wouldn’t look like prime shit no more. This Carl knew.
Pounding shot and shot and shot. And even on his night off, Carl still found himself at the bar. Lisa or Linda or whats-her-name not returning his call. Bored and without plans and totally wishing he’d remembered her name and not left a voicemail addressed to hey you. A shot and to hell with the old fuck who caught him stealing. A shot and to hell with that slick prick from last night too.
The bartender on shift tonight made his rounds and chatted everyone up equally. No doubt in it to get paid. But benefiting from house shots all night, Carl couldn’t begrudge the guy nothing. Just shot and shot and shot. And not even a look up from the empties to check for some maybe action. Just shot and shot and shot. Until he figured to be something like satisfied.
So close to bounding over the oak and smashing the fool’s nose flat. The fucker ordered some whacked-out drink then coached Carl through the mixing all scoffs and eye rolls. So close to hopping the bar and making the asshole swallow some teeth. Dude pointed to his watch. What, had he expected the shit was on tap? And then—when Carl dropped the drink before him and the guy said, I wanted two olives you clod—then, so close was in the rearview mirror.
But as Carl wound back to slap the single-olived-swizzle-stick from the punk’s mouth, he was nabbed from behind, bear hugged. Mort the bouncer hauled his ass outside. Carl, squeezed tight like Snidely Whiplash bound him to the tracks. Listen buddy, Mort said. I don’t know your fucking issue but check it out, shit only piles on. Every day you make your decisions and every morning you have to wake up and live with all the decisions you’ve made. So think first, dig? And Carl nodded, thinking he wouldn’t be anything like satisfied tomorrow.
All afternoon on the couch doing a whole lot of nothing. Television and weed and the pure fucking definition of nothing. Dude, Carl’s roommate said and stubbed out the second spliff on a wrecked coffee table. Dude, if you’re at the North Pole, like the total Northest of the North Pole, can you only walk in three directions? I mean if you’re as North as you can go, aren’t the only options South, East and West?
Carl, less satisfied than ever, got his ass off the couch, went for a warm beer. And slurping down foam he thought, the hell am I doing. Thought, whatever satisfaction is, this is just fuckall. Thought, if quitting wasn’t so easy he’d have something to show for himself. But that was always the problem, huh? The only thing easier than quitting was never trying to begin with.