It was just another day. Another hot, boring day. I was walking home to my crappy apartment after another day at my crappy job. Feeling like a bug. No, like less than a bug. Like broken shell and sticky bug parts crushed under a heel. All sweaty and heavy, the Reuben sandwich I had for lunch keeping step with me all the way. Maybe it was a voodoo curse kicking in, or maybe it was just all those other things working against me. That’s when I saw it. A sidewalk sign with the message “Happy Hour” written in chalk. “Why not?” I mumbled. I mean I actually stood there and said it out loud.
Anyway, in I went.
Zowie! Is this place hopping! Music blares from a jukebox, everywhere there’s lively chatter, laughter—What’s this? And at 5 in the afternoon? What a crowd! So friendly, too! Ordinary Joes, just like me; working folk, not the stuck-up crowd you see in the evenings. Whoa, are these drinks strong! Like gasoline! Say, give me another, bartender; heck at these prices, give me two; here’s something for your trouble. Love that guy, isn’t he a hoot? Like nothing in the world can wipe the grin off his face; can you blame him? Look at that jar full of lettuce; I’d be smiling too!
Buzzing already, and it’s not even 7, I can have a few more and still be home by 9, plenty of time to sleep before morn. Think I’ll stay awhile; because here, life ain’t so bad. It’s like love, like we’ve known each other forever, like I’ve found the piece of me I never knew was missing. Getting emotional, can’t shut up — Why should I? I want to sing! I want to dance! Now I’ve spilt vodka down the front of my pants! Ha ha! Don’t I say the darndest things when I’m all relaxed? I like it here; I exist here, like I’m a real person, not just a number on a time clock. I don’t want to go, ever; I love this place, I love this crowd! It’s like time has stopped, but it hasn’t really, it’s almost 10 and ain’t that a kick in the head; it’s getting late, I need to go, so I walk out . . .
And let the sounds of my footsteps on the lonely pavement take me back to my boring life.
I wake up and the pantomime begins again. Yawning in the shower. Shrugging into boring clothes. Gargling coffee while going over an account in my head. I start to drag myself off to work, but before the door closes I spy a remnant from the night before. A book of matches on the telephone stand. “Best happy hour in town” the message reads. Man, they weren’t joking! A smile lifts my spirits. Think this afternoon, I’ll go there again.
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