The bar is half full when I yell last call. Credit cards and cash appear as I start the close-a-tab shuffle.
“Did I pay you?” Jesse slurs.
“Yes for the seventh time.”
“Gimme a hug!” barks Erin.
Four dudes push through the door.
“Too late,” I yell.
“Just one!” They yell back.
Jeff peers in the doorway.
“Can I use the bathroom?”
“Did I pay you?” Jesse asks again.
Two smokers come back into the bar with cigarettes lit.
“You still serving?”
“No and put those out.”
“I paid you, right?” Jesse again.
Abraham walks in and starts asking the crowd for change.
“Abe. Not now.”
“Shots! Shots! Shots!” A group chants as they march through the front door and shower the bar with crumpled dollar bills and baggies of cocaine.
“This is it. And please, put that away.”
“Jesse is passed out in the bathroom!”
I book it under the pass and bang on the bathroom door.
“Jesse, you in there?”
I jimmy the door with a credit card and find Jesse asleep under the sink.
“Someone help me out here!”
“Only for free shots!”
I slide Jesse out and hoist him into a booth. The place is full now with six more people walking in and Erin behind the bar serving shots.
“What are you doing, Erin?”
“Gimme a hug!” she demands.
“What’s going on here?”
It’s a cop, followed by two partners.
“You can’t serve this late.”
“Trying to close, Officer.”
The cops muscle through the crowd, take off their caps and sit down at the bar.
“Not before we get a round of Buds.”
I continue serving as the sun comes up. Morning commuters pass by, looking in with horror and envy. 12 construction workers arrive lugging helmets and order 24 Coronas. ER nurses in OR scrubs file into a booth and order double Bloodies. Two boxes of bagels appear with tubs of cream cheese. Good Morning America is on the TV. The day time crowd shuffles in for Happy Hour. Nine hours after last call I bum a cigarette and stumble down to the basement, grab some toilet paper for a pillow and spread out on a few empty kegs. I wake up hours later to text messages and missed calls, selfies and videos. There’s no more Jack Daniels. The nurses have been doing body shots. Abraham’s smoking. Cops have control of the stereo and won’t stop playing Billy Joel. Jesse is up. Jeff is asking if I can bring up more limes. Erin wants another hug.
Saxon Baird is a writer and bartender. His fiction and poetry has appeared on Juked, Maudlin House, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, 3AM and The Fanzine. Currently, he’s on hiatus to collect a slow drip of meager unemployment checks from the US gov. Find him infrequently @saxonius