There used to be this bar way out there on Highway 42 named Newton’s. Happy hour is a state of mind. That was their slogan. Fucking everyone went there: college kids, businessmen, construction workers, drug dealers, at least one high school teacher, hookers (mostly because of the businessmen), off-duty cops, bikers, lawyers, kids with fake IDs, cheating spouses, the unemployed.
Once I met these two sisters from El Paso there. The uglier sister had a husband who’d been real mean to her, hitting her and shit. She showed me the scar on her inner thigh where he’d took a knife to her. There were some bad bite marks, too, but she said those weren’t from him. So, they get his ass real drunk one night, make him believe they was all about to have a threesome. While he was taking his pants off in the bathroom — he didn’t like undressing in front of people, the prettier sister said — they locked him in there and doused the whole fucking house in gasoline. He screamed and cried and begged for them to let him out. They said fuck you, left it all ablaze. Even his dog got burned up.
My ex-brother-in-law used to go with me a lot when I was married to his sister. He was one of them born-again Christians that gave up everything but the bottle. He said, Jesus turned water into wine, my dude, so ain’t nothing wrong with drinking. Well, this one time he got into an argument with a priest about who the angels let into heaven and who they didn’t. It got real bad and they ended up screaming in each other’s faces. The priest broke his bottle of Rainier and threatened to cut Sal’s throat, asked if he wanted to find out for himself. After Sal died of a heart attack it was that priest who done the funeral.
Jesse got hired as the bartender at Newton’s after he quit truck driving. He’d hit some black ice heading up a mountain in Montana and managed to jump out his truck before it fell a couple thousand feet off a cliff. Only thing Jesse managed to salvage from the wreck was his mom’s cat that he’d had taxidermied after she died. It sat perched on the shelf next to the gin — his mom’s favorite drink. The girls loved Jesse, but Jesse wasn’t into girls so he’d get them good and drunk and send them over to me. Sometimes it worked.
The owner sold the building last summer, turned it into an IHOP. They hired me as a dishwasher. Jesse and some of the folks from Newton’s still get together, shoot the shit. I ain’t allowed, though. Sometimes I’ll buy a six pack and drink it behind the building on my break.
D.T. Robbins has work in Hobart, Bending Genres, Ghost City Review, Trampset, X-R-A-Y, and others. He’s doing his best. Find more at dtrobbins.com.