The Loser: Part 1

Pops was a bartender here back in the 80′s. He was the father of four. Three of them drug addicts, the other being Arnie, my uncle, who is now The Loser’s lone bartender.
One day, a beer bottle broke over his head while he was working and a piece of glass cut him good. He would get around in spite of his eye.
Sometimes an unknowing family ventured into The Loser. They’d think it’s quaint or something, strutting into a dive bar with a kid “on break” from college. They’d ruin the very atmosphere they’re attracted towards.
So they sat next to me of course. Uncle Arnie ignored them. The suburban-brat-child tried ordering an “abortion.” The cheeky father laughed and asked for the same. Uncle Arnie turned around from his imaginary business.
Get the fuck out.
As the duo shuffled out the door yelping about how “no one on the internet” will ever see a good review of this place, I started getting an awful headache. That wanna-be edgy middle-aged father mentioned the internet in such an unfamiliar way, with the kind of tone that implied a successful wielding of power.
Uncle Arnie knew the antidote to my ailment. A pint of lager in a glass which has never been washed. A special glass saved just for me. The dirt minerals or the unknown whatever stained within did something to dull the pain.
It still wasn’t enough. I sat there, at the edge of my stool, waiting for nothing. It was noon, as I could hear those church bells chime their extra tolls only a block away.
My uncle and I would get along because we both don’t talk much. We never really needed to communicate with words.
I often lied to myself. The only one I never lied to was the only one I could trust. A stuffed animal in the form of a bear, under a broken floorboard beneath my unmade mattress back at home. I had to hide him from Arnie’s pill-head sister who gave birth to me.
I lit up a cigarette. I looked around inside The Loser and realized that life could be worse. I could picture him with his crooked, soft brown eyes, his pudgy belly, and his stubby arms. Even though my relationship with him was a secret, it wasn’t because I was ashamed. I kept him secret in order to protect him from this grimy world. And he protected me from myself.
As I took my final drag, Arnie gave me a foreboding look. I thought he was angry about me smoking in the bar. Sometimes he would get upset about it and blame it on the owner noticing the smell. I knew he wasn’t mad because it was against the rules, but because he was worried about my habits. One time when he was really drunk, he told me that drinking had a purpose, but that tobacco was a pointless, overly addictive drug. I knew it was really the smoke I exhaled that was bothering him. The sight of smoke around a relative reminded him of the 80′s, when he witnessed his brothers succumb to the crack epidemic.
He said nothing that time about me smoking a cigarette. I looked at him as he stood there silently. As soon as I opened my mouth he spoke.
Your mom called.
He didn’t have to say anything else. Without a word, I left cash on the dusty bar and walked out the door.

Luck Meant Nothing

Tina was in a tattoo shop all fucked up and shit. The stench that emanated throughout that dirty old parlor resembled the odor of feces. The oxies were flowing through her and she was underwater. Tina felt those familiar sensations pulsing; the sharks were swimming through her bloodstream. Those tiny instances of pain were underlying. They were not physical.

How are yah?

In walked a salty and bloated obese lady with freckles, pseudo-polynesian and celtic shoulder designs who blurted out nonsense that Tina did not give a shit about.

blah blah blah.

Flubbery noises seeped through Tina’s mind. She was trapped under ice with frost chipped bones.

Fuck that bitch. Fuck that cunt.

Apparently she had not only thought those words.

What the fuck yah say?

The fat lady attempted to have an intimidating demeanor, leaning over the counter with her pudgy knuckles against the rotting wood. Tina gave her a blank stare from behind the front desk.

This is how yah treat your customers?

Tina was only concerned with treating her invisible wounds. An “under the table” employee, she was in actuality, the only worker present at the moment. All the artists had taken off to the dive bar down the street hours before.

Hello?

Holy shit, that bitch was still there.

Name?

The word was automatic.

Shannon, I came and talked to Marty yesterday.

Well he isn’t here, come back tomorrow.

That’s what that teenage tramp told me last week.

Shannon had pushed her luck. Tina was no longer dazing off as the fat woman’s words had a peculiar effect on her. She knew that the bitch was talking about her daughter.

The room was barren, except for the palpable air of Tina’s virulent thoughts. She did not perceive them as thoughts however, more like uncontrollable impulses. She grabbed the woman’s wire-like hair from behind the desk, and yanked the head connected. Her face smashed against wood.

Wait right here please.

Although those words were unnecessary, as the woman’s body had slumped to the floor. Tina returned from the back of the store after a couple of minutes with an unassuming cardboard box. Blood was oozing from the gash on the motionless woman’s forehead. The mess aggravated Tina even more so.

Tina pulled used needles from the box and went to work displaying her art for the first time in her life. It was beautiful.

After an hour of diligent work, the semi-conscious woman was covered in blood and black. The ink had been gone over multiple times and was buried deep in the pale skin. The designs she drew were as arbitrary as the poorly done tattoos on the woman’s shoulders, and yet it carried meaning.

Once Tina had finished her piece, she went out back for a smoke. Each drag ushered in a more coherent state of mind, and the reasoning began. She knew she had to clean up the mess and dispose of the tangled lump of flesh.

Tina was the kind of woman that adhered to blind faith. She worshipped the concept of luck- rabbit tail and all. It was a remedy to the kind of chaos experienced growing up with a lack of guardians.

A ruckus in the building. She did not pay attention. Keep on puffing. More and more she regretted the failure of her original, poorly conceived plan. Tina meant to infect the hefty woman with Hep, then dope her up and place a fake receipt to another ink shop in her purse.

The boys were back from the bar. Everything was over for Tina. They laughed.

You really out-did yourself on this one Tina.

I think I’ll have to turn you in for doing such a shitty ink job.

She ran out, insulted, she cried from the humiliation. Her aspirations for being an artist were crushed. Her daughter would be abandoned like she once was. And it all ended with lightning strikes and a rope in a motel closet.