The whiskey rolled down my throat in a very pleasing way. I savored the taste and thought about how its soothing flavor would spread from my stomach to the tips of my every extremity. I leaned forward on the bar stool and put the highball glass to my head. The outside of the cup was wet with condensation and cool from the leftovers of the ice. I listened to the tapping of the rain on the tin roof. The drizzle was turning into a storm and the cacophony was crescendoing into a symphony. The people around the bar looked at the roof and shook their heads as they raised their voices to be heard over the rain. Some enterprising person asked if the jukebox had a volume knob.
I looked out the windows and watched as the waves of rain soaked the street outside. This was a dry area and the earth soaked up the rain with abandon. Soon the creek behind the bar would be a torrent.
Once upon a time, long before I found myself in this shitty bar in this shitty town I was a teacher. One of the stories I taught the students was about a desert toad. The toad hibernates the majority of its life, having dug itself a fancy hole in the desert to stay safe from marauding predators. When it rains, however, it comes out, lays eggs in puddles, then buries itself again. Rinse and repeat everytime it rains. I felt this area might have those toads, and this might be the rainstorm they have been awaiting.
As for me I’m still hibernating. Been a few years now, in bars like this one, where the whiskey is cheap and goes down smooth, slowly wearing down the sharp edges of that which ails me.
The door opened and I felt a blast of damp cool air blowing in from the wind whipped street. In walked a man with a less than serene look on his face. He didn’t seem to take notice of anyone else in the bar and walked straight to the barman. He gruffly ordered a triple wild turkey neat. My type of man I thought. The bartender poured and I called for what he was having.
The man stared straight ahead as my drink was filled. I nodded to the barman in thanks and he poured himself one nervously. I cheersed him when his glass was full and turned, glass raised, to the man who came in out of the storm.
“Cheers, man, I like your drink.”
“I don’t give a fuck what you think.” He said without breaking his straight ahead stare. I shrugged, not the worst thing I’ve been told in a bar, I cheersed the barman again for good luck and took a pull.
The man drained his cup and threw a wad of bills on the bar. The bar man called out a thanks. The man turned towards the tables at the back and drew a huge handgun from his belt. He had somehow kept this hand cannon hidden in the back of his pants under his jacket. He took four or five steps forward and leveled the gun at a man sitting at a table with two what I assumed to be hookers.
“Depends who the fuck is ask-” The last word was cut off with the sharp percussive sounds of .357 rounds being fired in a confined space. The man was thrown from his chair by the force of the impact and landed on his side. Blood flowed from his multiple very open wounds.
The man loudly informed us that we hadn’t seen shit, turned and walked out the door.
The bar man came over, refilled my glass, told me it was on the house, poured at least twice as much in his glass, and we touched glasses with shaking hands.