Monday, September 15, 2008

Barred For Life

Mark slid the beer closer to himself and lifted it to his lips. Tom talked; he listened. They both sat at the bar. They didn't face each other. That's not unusual. Men rarely do. There's a reason for stadium seating. Mark tipped his tap while his friend spoke. And then they were quiet.

“Look, Tom, your politics are too extreme. Getting guns and shelters is lacking proportion bro. Obama isn't the enemy of America man. Your attitude is. You can't show me anything in the bible that supports shit like that!”

“I don't want to be friends with you anymore." Tom said through a sigh.

"What?" Mark turned his face to face their thirty year friendship.

"I can't take the pressure of you anymore." He remained in profile.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Mark put the beer back on the bar.

"You're too much!" Tom stood up and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. "I don't want to keep your standards!"

"When do I ask you to keep any standards?" Mark watched his friend pull cash from the calfskin.

"Every fucking day. You ask me every time you look at me." He threw a twenty on the bar. “I don't want to hear your shit anymore.”

“Man, sit down and just talk to me!" Mark turned his body to face the situation.

"No, I mean it." Tom shoved his wallet into his jacket pocket. "I feel," he stumbled for the word, "inadequate ... every time I talk to you. I hate it. I'm getting away from it."

"Thirty fucking years and that's it? Something I can't fix?" Mark turned to the side and rested his arms on the bar. "Go home. Think what you're saying. Call me or not. But don't kill something and just walk away without watching it bleed. That's a coward man. You sit down and you tell your friend how to fix it. You just don't go home." Mark guzzled a gulp. "Man - this is so fucked. What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say?"

"I don't care. I just gotta do it." Tom took a step away and turned to return. "Yeah I do care. You've got other friends. You don't need me."

"Needing and wanting isn't the same thing." Mark dropped his head down and stared at the beer. "We're friends. I've known you since I was practically a kid. I love you like a brother."

"I know. But get this: we all love you and we all hate you."

"Hate me?" Mark's eyes shot up.

"No that's not right. We hate ourselves. You're just the easier target. Goodbye Mark." Tom turned and walked out of the bar.

"No, you're dead wrong," Mark walked to his car.

"Oh fuck you!" Tom screamed. He haphazardly hit Mark with his hands. His gulped beers gave him courage.

Tom's gulped beers gave Mark patience. "Don't. Hit. Me. Again," he staccatoed to weight his words. Mark restrained his palms in the lining of his pockets.

"If you're so fucking smart," Tom said, "how come your life sucks? Your career sucks! Where's your wife asshole? Why won't she marry you? If you're so fucking enlightened, how come it's not helping you?" He cackled until he coughed.

"Maybe I know not to ask," Mark whispered. He turned away and walked alone to his car.