I blink a few times and realize that I haven’t been paying attention. Not really sure as to where I am, seemingly nowhere at all. Like for a second or two my brain just shut off, or reset itself involuntarily. I have had this feeling before and I am distracted by the familiarity of it. It keeps me from getting my attention back to what is actually going on around me. I am stuck on trying to remember when and where this happened to me in the past. It’s lost time. Only what seems like a few seconds, but it’s lost, like sleep.
I start to clue back in; this takes only a few seconds, all of it. It takes longer to describe it all.
I am standing outside of a bar. It’s summer, or at least warm enough to be. I am wearing a blue t-shirt and grey shorts, no shoes. There is a small backpack slung over my right shoulder and it feels awkward, like it should be on the other side. I am smoking a cigarette, but I didn’t think that I smoked. I keep pulling on it and it doesn’t make me choke, so I guess I must smoke, and just forgot. There are two other people out there with me. Standing close by, like we are in the middle of a conversation. I guess that there must be some sort of drink waiting for me back inside the bar, I must just be out here having a smoke break with these two people that I also guess must be my friends.
“What the fuck Jimmy?”
One of them says this to me as they push my shoulder. I take the push and it makes me go off balance helping me realize I must have had a little too much to drink.
I keep blinking and the sun is hitting my face. It’s not that hot but it feels like I should get out of the sun, maybe get some cream on. It feels like it does when you come in from the beach when you are on vacation. You get to your hotel room and go: “Woo, I got a little too much sun.”
Stubble on my face, unshaven, all of this before I answer the guy that calls me Jimmy. I guess that’s my name.
I put my hand over my forehead, covering it with my open palm to shield it from the sun.
“Who the fuck are you anyways?”
I look back at the guy that pushed me and we lock eyes, its like staring at a stranger and it feels uncomfortable. He laughs and flicks the butt of his smoke in between two cars and I watch it hit the street. I stare at it for a few seconds.
“Hey, you coming?”
I look back towards them only seeing my confusion and then involuntarily start following them into the bar. It’s dark and smells like stale beer. I understand everything around me. The world is making sense but I seem to not be. The bar is old and the carpet feels sticker and dirty on my bare feet. I wonder for a few seconds why I don’t have any shoes on, but there seems to be other things more pressing to figure out. I sit down and see myself beside a middle aged fellow wearing a one piece cover-all, like an automotive mechanic might wear. It’s blue and black with grease and it has an embroidered name oval on the front that reads Kevin in fancy blue script.
I say the name out loud thinking it will help connect me. The man glares back at me between small sips of beer.
“That’s not my name asshole, what’s gotten into you?”
The man who is not Kevin is talking to me, and I notice he has a black spot of rot on his top front teeth in between where they meet.
“You should get that looked at. That tooth of yours, It’s rotten, doesn’t it hurt?”
“Fuck off Jimmy you ass hole, what’s with you? Jesus leave me the fuck alone.”
I said what I said mostly because I could think of nothing else to say. I rested my arms on the table and took what I expected was my drink and had a sip. A watery rum and Coke with lime, most likely white rum. The ice cubes were thin and transparent, almost melted. I decide to just sit there and bide my time, I figure things will come back to me, it’s no big deal, must be coming off a big bender or something, maybe I had a bad trip and this is the result.
I look at both of the men I am with and wonder who they are and what the deal is. I wonder what day it is, what city I am in, what time it is. I start to feel panic and overwhelming fear. I take another swig of my rum and Coke, cross my arms in front of me, and press them hard against my chest.
“So then she says to me oh, your a smart ass aren’t you, and I say you bet baby, then she grabs me by the balls, real hard like, and it lifts me right up off my chair.”
The two guys start laughing at the same time and I just look away like it’s no big deal. It sounds like he was continuing a story that must have been partially told outside. It didn’t mean anything to me so I didn’t react. For some reason I try to picture the woman they are talking about. I see a blonde older woman, someone older than the guy talking. I have no idea why. I press my fingers on my temples and strain to remember something. I push harder and harder with my eyes closed trying to squeeze some sort of memory or image out of my head that isn’t just a formulation of something happening in the now. I try to find something old, something that can connect me in some way to whoever I am. There’s nothing but black space and the voices and sounds of the bar.
“What the hell is with you man? Are you sick? What the fuck dude where’s your head at?”
It’s the one with the coveralls. I pull my fingers away from my temples and open my eyes. It feels like I just woke up and the taste of the rum in my mouth makes me want more so I pick up the short rock glass and tip the rest of the watery mixture into my mouth until it empties out and the ice crashes into my upper lip.
“I need another fucking drink is what is up, where is the waitress?”
“Jimmy, you get your own drinks here, there is no waitress, hasn’t been for years.”
I get up without looking at them and head to the bar with my glass. The other hand is digging into my left front pocket shuffling blindly through what I guess is a wad of bills. I pull out a Ten dollar bill and present it to the bar without looking up.
“Another one Jimmy?”
I look up and meet eyes with a set of piercing blue ones. I blink a few times and say sure. The face looks familiar but not familiar enough for me to take it deep into my memory and do something with it. There is just a feeling of knowing without any connection at all. It’s the only reassuring thing I have. All of the people that surround me look somewhat familiar, somewhat connected to me.
The drink clacks on the wooden bar and I pull the lime off of the side, squeeze it over the top and drop it into the glass. I look to the back of the bar behind the bartender and see a picture of me with him. It’s bent and old, a lame printout from some colour laser printer. It is a picture of the two of us with a Texas Mickey of white rum in between us. I am howling in the photo holding the same type of rock glass in my hand that I have now. I look very drunk. I guess that at some point I must have won that bottle because the barkeep seems to be half presenting it to me in the photo. I turn away, head back to the table, take a swig of rum and Coke. I get back to the table and the guys that were sitting with are gone, there are two different people there now, a man and a woman. They look up at me and smile so I stop for a minute trying to process everything. There are too many changes all at once, and I have no clue as to what I should do. I just want to shrink and disappear.
“Jimmy, where’s our drinks? You only got yourself one? I gave you twenty bucks?”
I blink, and blink again trying to deal with all of it. I feel nauseous.
“I’m sorry, do I know you two? I was just sitting with two other guys, did they leave?”
They look at me like they both know something that I don’t, then they look at each other, and look back. I stare at them for a few seconds and check my pockets again with the intention that I might be able to find myself in there somewhere if I push my hand in deep enough. The glass of rum licks over the side as I twist around looking for nothing and finding nothing. I down it in a few gulps, throw the glass our in front of me on the floor. It shatters like an icicle falling from a rooftop. I turn and walk away from the man and the woman sitting at the table. I have never seen them before, have no idea who they are.
I wipe the rum from my face, and as I hit the sidewalk I look down at my bare feet slapping against the concrete. They are dirty and look like I have been walking for a good long time without shoes on. Sun pushes my eyes closed and I keep walking – wondering so many things at once that I end up wondering about nothing at all.