“Hey, barkeep. How about setting us up with a couple more longnecks?” Willie yells down the length of the bar to the woman in a low cut top who is ringing money into the cash register. She looks the old man’s way and nods, acknowledging his request.
When she finishes with the transaction at the register, dropping a $2.00 tip into the jar sitting next to it, the busty brunette behind the bar retrieves two longneck Bud Lights, pulls the churchkey from the right rear pocket of the painted on Wranglers she wears, and saunters down to where Willie and Pinky sit, perched on the stools at the “L” in the bar, one man on each side of the ninety degree turn. As she pops the top on the beers, and sits each one in front of the two drinkers on the other side of the wooden top, she says, “You boys aren’t from around here, are you?”
“Carla, right?” The bartender nods and Pinky continues, “No, we both just rode into town—me from the north and Willie here from…Willie, where’re you from?”
“I come in from Jackson. Going to Portland to see my kid.”
“Boy or a girl?” Carla knows how to keep a customer talking. She has been at the job long enough to understand that a talking drinker is a drinking drinker. The more they talk about themselves, the more they’ll drink. And, the more they drink the more they’ll tip. The way she looks and the way she dresses doesn’t hurt her chances any, either.
“My son and his wife moved over that way right after they got married a few years back. First time for me to go visit. I’m going to surprise them.”
Pinky turns his head slowly to the right, taking his eyes from the cleavage of the lovely bartender standing on the other side of the sturdy bar where he sat. He would have been long gone by now if it hadn’t been for Carla. “You think that’s a good idea Willie? They might not even be home.”
“You know, Pinky, you might have something there. I’ll have to give them a call before I leave town. If they’re not home I’m going to sit my happy ass on this stool until I can talk Carla here into taking me into her bed and ravishing my poor aging body beyond anything my warped mind can dream up.”
“In your dreams, buster. In your dreams.” Carla giggles flirtatiously, wipes the counter in front of Willie with the white towel she is carrying, then steps from behind the bar, and sashays her way towards a table in the corner where a young couple had just seated themselves.
Willie stares at the 5’6” brunette as she walks away from them. “Damn, Pinky. I sure like watching her walk away from me. Hate to see her leave, but just look at that sight. One fine ass if you ask me. And, she’s got quite a set of DSL’s, too, don’t you think? Makes Mister Johnson want to stand up and take notice.”
“Willie, what are you talking about? That’s a nice ass, sure, but what are DSL’s?” Pinky thinks of himself as an educated man and someone that knows about the ways of the world, but this gruffy old goat sitting on his right confuses the hell out of him. But, the old man is right. That is one mighty fine looking ass. The only DSL’s Pinky knows about, though, are the phone lines that carries the internet into the house. But, he’d been drinking with Willie long enough to know that the old man would have an explanation of some sort already lined up.
“DSL’s? Why, Pinky, them are dick sucking lips. Damn, I can just imagine what they’d feel like wrapped tightly around my johnson. Shit, makes me hard just thinking about it.” Willie tips the bottle he holds in his left hand and takes a long pull on the cold beer, staring after the woman leaning over the table in the corner, taking the young couple’s order. “It’s hell getting old”, the old man thinks. “What I wouldn’t give to be 30 again.”
Willie turns slowly back towards the bar and stares at himself in the mirror behind the bottles that line the shelf on the other side of the hardtop where he is perched. There, in the mirror, sits a scruffy looking old man, unshaven and more bald than not, who has seen more in his life than he can ever remember, and still he is thinking about a woman over half as young as he is. Yes, it’s hell getting old and there’s no stopping it. That’s why only the strong survive.
“Pinky, I’ll bet I could out lie you with one eye tied behind my back.” Carla was just then making her way to behind the bar. “Carla, can you set us up with a couple of dice cups when you get a chance? I’m gonna show Pinky how a real man lies. He’s going to be buying beer until closing time.”
“Willie, we don’t close. This is Nevada. We’re open 24 hours a day.”
The old man laughs and turns to his left. “Damn, Pinky. We’re in for a long night. A real long night. Hope you brought lots of money. Hahahaha.”
Carla delivers a pint of beer and a tequila sunrise to the couple in the corner. When she returns she sits two dice cups on the bar between Willie and Pinky. “You know, Willie, from what I’ve overheard you seem to have gotten around a bit in your life. I’ll bet you were something when you were younger.”
“Oh, lovely lady I can always be young once. Sometimes twice. What say you and me go for a drink when you get off work? I can show you what young is all about.”
“I’ll bet you can, but I don’t think my husband would be too fond of that.”
“Pinky will take care of your husband for us. Won’t you, Pinky?”
“What? What did you say?” Pinky, slightly inebriated, is lost in thought. At least he’s pretty sure it’s thought, and not just one big dream. He cannot tell you what he had been thinking about, but he is almost positive he had been thinking.
“Pinky, dear, you have to keep up here.” Carla reaches out and taps him on the nose. “You’re not going to go to sleep on us, are you?”
“Nope. I was just thinking. Thinking how Willie, here, has led quite a life. If you believed what he was telling you you’d think he was god’s gift to women. Ain’t that right, Willie?”
“Damned straight that’s right. Let me tell you in short summary what my life has been like.”
“Hold that thought one minute, there, old man. Let me wait on this customer and I’ll be right back. I’ve got to hear this.” Carla turns and sashays her way towards where a lone man in a rumpled suit had just perched himself on a stool, halfway down the bar. Pinky and Willie stare after the lovely bartender as she walks away.
“Hot damn, I wish I was a young man again.”
“I thought you just said you could always be young once.”
“Pinky, when you get my age you can talk big, but making delivery on that talk is another thing altogether. But, if you can distract her husband for me I’d sure like to show that bartender of ours a thing or two, what an old man is really capable of. Might kill me, but what a way to go.”
Carla finishes ringing up the cost of the shot and beer she had sat in front of Mr. Rumpled Suit and walks back down to to where Pinky and Willie sit. “Okay, Willie, let’s hear it. Let’s hear the story of how a young man turned old.”
“Alright. But, for a more detailed version you’re going to have to go to dinner with me, and then we’ll discuss whatever comes up between us. For now, though, this is the quick and dirty version.
“You see, in my youth I used to drink beer, smoke dope, and chase women. Drinking beer helped me get over my inhibitions. Smoking dope relaxed me. And, chasing women, I got plenty of exercise. Now, at my age, I’ve had to quit all three. ‘Cause when I smoke dope I just want to sit around, eat Doritos, and watch cartoons displayed on the screen at the front end of the lobotomy box sitting in the corner. Drinking beer makes me fat. And, chasing women? That’s out of the question. The young ones are too hard to catch, and the old ones take too long to please. I don’t have the stamina like I used to.”
“Willie, now I know that’s a lie. You’ve been drinking beer all afternoon. I’m sure you have more stamina than you let on.”
“That barley pop sitting there? That ain’t beer. That’s just some colored water that saves me from drinking that crap that fish fuck in. Damn. I even have trouble bathing in it. You don’t think I’m going to put it on the inside when I have trouble putting it on the outside, do you?”
Pinky just sat on his stool, stares at the old man, and chuckles. Carla laughs. A beautiful, hardy laugh that fills both men with pleasure. “Carla, dear, why don’t you drag a couple more barley pops down this way for me and Pinky? Pour yourself something. Then me and you can start making plans for that dinner date you promised me.”
“Willie, I don’t think stamina is the only thing that has gone the way of your youth. Your memory is about shot. I never promised you a dinner date. Anyway, Pinky is not my husband’s type, and I think you’d be way more than I could ever hope to handle.” Yes, the lovely Miss Carla knows how to keep her drinkers drinking.
Willie and Pinky sit playing liar’s dice. The old man is good, but Pinky is a fast learner. He loses two to every game that he wins, but he doesn’t care. He’s having fun. He has never sat at a bar drinking beer from a bottle with a stranger he has just met. He wonders why it has taken him this long to find such pleasure in such a simple thing, sharing an afternoon with someone you just met.
“Willie, where did you learn to play liar’s dice?”
“My daddy taught me the game.”
Pinky stares glassy eyed at the weathered man seated on the barstool to his right. “You know what my daddy taught me? Nothing.”
“So, you’re a self taught man. I like that. Seems like you done good. Hey, Carla. Why don’t you bring me and my friend another one of them long necks. A man gets thirsty playing this rugged game here. Pour yourself something, too, and come on down here. Pinky’s buying. And, we miss your company.”
“Willie, my dear. Hold your horses. I’ll be down there when I finish up here.”
“Damn, Pinky. That filly down there, now that’s something I’d like to snuggle up to for a bit. It wouldn’t take long either. Maybe three or four minutes. That’s one fine woman.”