Winter White and Eskimos

Most times he nods above his pint
from ninety-degrees away
his back or mine to the wall
depending on whose luck is better.
Tonight we're seated side-by-side
since all other stools
and pretty ears are taken.

It takes awhile for him to kick it off
but by my third we're talking shop
from opposite sides of the union line.
There's a heaviness in his eyes
that even his rare prevailing wage gig
can't remedy.
Neither of us mention
the harmlessly psychotic spinster
who's taken us both home once--
honor amongst thieves;
God protecting drunks.

A female prison guard
seated to his right
grabs his arm and blathers on
without a break for air
and the barkeep grins
at my smiling eyes:
"Better him than me."

A few songs later
after one on the house
for his listening servitude
we go out for a smoke
unintentionally together.
He disappears around the corner
so I assume he's stumbled home
though he slants back into sight
explaining his relief
in the alley or the trees
safely out of view.
The quintessential gun-shy move
comes as no surprise.
Neither does his failure
to say goodbye
once he's downed his last cheap lager
but that's a flaw I overlook
while leaving shortly after.

No comments: