The bar looked like something you would have found in the 70s, with its wood panel walls and bright carpets, or at least they were still bright orange in a few spots. The rest of it appeared to just be dirt from years of brawls and unthinkable drunk orgies. The bar itself had a nice leather padding to rest your elbows on.
Christmas lights all over the place from years past and neon signs displaying beer logos cluttered the walls. In the middle of all of this retro decay sat Mike. Mike had been the owner for the past ten years and at 78 he was still standing strong. It was an early Wednesday morning and no one other than the stranger at the end of the bar had come in for breakfast. The stranger had been here the past three mornings to have a Bloody Mary and bacon and eggs; Mike hadn’t had a chance to talk to him since he was slammed the past few days, but today looked like he could finally introduce himself.
Walking over with a bottle of Wild Turkey, Mike pours himself a drink and leans up against the bar, “How have you been sir? My name is Mike and I am the owner of this fine cesspool of forgotten childhood dreams.”
(Laughing) “Hello, nice to meet ya. My name’s Carl.”
Sipping his Wild Turkey, “Well the pleasure is mine Carl. Say, you wouldn’t happen to be a cook would ya? I’m always in need of a good cook.”
“Yeah I can cook, but I should probably tell ya upfront that I’m a five time convicted felon. (Laughing) Hell I can’t even get a job at McDonalds.”
Swishing the ice around in his glass, Mike sighs, “Hell Carl, I spent the better part of the 80s in and out of jail. It gets to a point it feels like home in some places, yet in others it’s the worst hell you could imagine.”
“The first stretch I did I was just a pup. Freshmen in college selling weed to the rich kids so I could have extra cash for all the ladies; believe it or not I used to be a good-looking lad back in the day. Next thing you know, some party gets busted and all the kids call their fathers who work out deals and it all gets thrown on me. I wasn’t even there.”
“(Sighs) You know man, God made life challenging so we could better ourselves, why else would he make us with so many flaws?”
Shaking his head laughing, “Yeah I spent many years searching for God and the closest I ever came was silence.”
Nodding his head he pours a glass of Turkey for Carl, “Let me guess, the gateway drug put you away for a good bit and while on the inside you picked up new tricks?”
Nodding his head as he lights up a cigarette, “Yeah, got busted for this or that a few more times in different states, and spent my last stretch in Mississippi. (Laughing) For such an illiterate state, that prison had one hell of a library. I spent that stretch reading everything they had to offer from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ to ‘Rant’ by Chuck Palahniuk. Jesus, what a bunch of moon man gibberish that was. I feel like publishers had to think, ‘We still have no idea what shrieking Mesopotamian deity commanded him to have this gift but let’s publish it.’ (Laughing) Anyway, since I had so much time, I also got my Bachelor’s while in there. I figured I might get lucky one day and someone won’t ask about the questionable lapse in years on my resume.”
(Laughing) Mike pours another drink for the two, “So what brings you to the Keystone State?”
Looking at his plate shaking his head, “Trust me Mike, you don’t wanna hear this story.”
“Come on man.”
(Sighs) “Alright, well this buddy of mine from college invited me up here to stay a few weeks. I arrived last week and I had dinner with him and his wife the first night. He and I were sitting in his living room having a few drinks. He leans over and tells me, ‘So the wifey there is pretty kinky, if you get my drift, and she loves it when people watch us have sex, so I was wondering if that would be okay with you?’”
(Laughing) “Jesus, you have got to be shitting me!”
Shaking his head, “No Mike, I wish I was. So I’m sitting there and at first I thought he was joking, ya know? I told him to fuck off but he kept persisting. So I get up to leave because I sure as shit didn’t want any part of it. I get to the door and my buddy slams me into the wall and pulls out this fucking knife and holds it against my throat and tells me to sit down or he’s going to cut me up. So I sit back down and his wife comes in and sits down beside me and asks if everything is ok. I say yeah, sure, no problem here. She starts rubbing my leg and telling me how handsome I am. My buddy flips the fuck out and grabs her and throws her up against the wall yelling at her. He’s calling her a whore and pulls out some cash and throws it in her face. She starts screaming for help and tries to fight him, but he keeps throwing her against the wall. He then rips her shirt open and throws her on the floor and starts going at it.”
Mouth and eyes wide open, “What did you do?”
“Nothing I just sat there while she screamed. At one point she looked up at me and once she saw I was still there this massive smile came across her face and you could tell the pleasure was tremendous. When they were finished she changed and went back to the kitchen. My buddy laughed and said thank you and we just sat there drinking. She came back in a few moments later and told us dinner was ready.
Pouring a new glass of Turkey, “That’s a hell of a night. How was the dinner (laughing)?”
“The dinner was a kind of pot roast but the more I sat there looking at it, I couldn’t help but think it looked like a fucking leg. I mean an actual human leg you know. So I sat there a bit and finally asked what it was. They didn’t say anything for a while then my buddy finally broke the silence. He said it was the leg of a drifter that had asked for money, and they had invited him back to their place where he watched them have sex for a week. Then they hit him in the head with a baseball bat one morning in the shower, cut his throat and let him drain out in the tub and then froze him.”
Slowing reaching for the phone, “Excuse me?”
Crying, “I didn’t want to believe it either and then they took me to their garage and opened up their freezer, and laying in there was a human head and his body all chopped up and packaged like a fucking cow.”
Pulling out a shot gun form under the counter, “Now you just sit right fucking there! I’m gonna call the cops you sick son of a bitch!”
(Laughing) “Jesus, man it was a joke! My name is Jones I am an actor in town for the Edgar Allen Poe show going on this weekend.”
Putting his gun and the phone down, “Damn kid you had me going, you have a real fucked up sense of humor you know that?
Upon realizing his guard was down, Carl grabbed the bottle of Wild Turkey and slammed it against the side of Mike’s head. He jumped over the bar and began to bash his head in with the bottle until it broke and smashed into a million pieces. He slumped down beside the body and lit a cigarette shaking his head, “Every time I think I have a new start something kicks me back down like I never left prison. People like you and me, (patting Mike’s corpse on the back) we don’t need bars; we build our own cells. We find ourselves in places we never imagined we’d be, looking back and wondering how we got here and why we can’t leave. Maybe there’s something broken in us, ya know, something that other people have that allows them to dream and live. Maybe there are just ghosts that won’t let us be.” Carl sits there a while, finally collects himself and picks up the phone and punches in a few numbers.
As he’s looking down at the body, the person on the other line answers, “Hello?”
“Hey man, I was just wondering how big is your freezer?”