Drinking Alone

My first afternoon at the bar my boss told me to drink my mistakes, which I did, which caused me to make more mistakes, which I also drank. Soon I was drunk. I’m not a bad bartender, but these fruity drinks I was making were damn complicated. Now, the strange thing was that there was only one person in the bar, this little old Spanish guy named Sal. Sal was ordering these complicated fruity drinks for people who weren’t there–all of whom, I soon learned, were women. Soon there were enormous pink and blue drinks on every empty table, in front of every empty stool. Once the rush was over, Sal would watch an imaginary woman sway towards the bathroom and grin at me. “Boy what a set of hips that Ginger has, eh?” Of course I had to play along. “She sure does,” I’d say. “So,” he’d ask, “what do you think of Marissa over there, in the black tank top?” “She’s sexy as hell,” I’d respond. Sal would smile and outline a voluptuous woman with his hands. “I’ll put in a good word for you.” The whole thing was bizarre at first, but about the time when the conga line started, I realized I was really enjoying myself. “I’m crazy about the way you drink, Sal!” I told him. “Another round of shots!” he cried. Not long later, a cool dark space under the bar, right about the size of my body, began calling my name. “I think I’m going to climb under the bar and lay down for a minute,” I slurred. Sal leaned forward and flashed his yellow teeth. “You old dog, you got a pretty lady down there, don’t you!” he said. I winked, suddenly aware that I did. God bless that Sal. I closed my eyes, felt your breath on my neck and the weight of your head on my shoulder.

Matthew Yeager’s poems have appeared recently in Bat City Review, Supermachine, NY Quarterly, Gulf Coast, as well as Best American Poetry 2005 and Best American Poetry 2010. His short film A Big Ball of Foil in a Small NY Apartment, was an official selection at twelve film festivals in 2009-2010, picking up two awards. He is the co-founder of Chicken Truck Productions and lives in Brooklyn, NY.