The view from the floor is always a bit confusing.
And when that said floor, is the restroom of your favorite bar. It just makes it
all that more interesting.
Considering the place smelled like a bucket of piss and Shorty the owner.
Never seemed to wipe down the bar, let alone mop the bathroom floor.
Frank abandoned all hope to salvage his often semi shabby wardrobe.
Walking out into the bar it was clear the party was over and everyone had gone home.
And somehow had left the drunken kid in the candy store all alone.
So being he was locked in he figured he would make himself at home as best he could.
He grabbed a bag of chips, took a bottle from the bar and flipped on a twenty four hour news station .
The news anchor was rattling on, about the idiot in the white house as usual.
The virus was everywhere and a fool fanned the flames in every direction.
It was the same shit every day and the reason Frank had largely ignored the news.
So much to the point, one day he was on the opposite side of his current problem.
As he stood outside of Castros, scratching his head wondering why he could not get his usual lunch time routine.
Of a bowl of Beam and a club sandwich.
Which forced him to dial the owner Dan “Shorty” Martin.
“Hey , you little fat fuck what you die or are you just getting so old you forgot its Monday?”
“If I was dead would I be answering the phone you stupid prick?”
The little gruff voice replied.
Frank cracked up at that one as Shorty, was like a living cartoon character.
Always grouchy and utterly hilarious .
“Fuck Frank, go home and watch the fucking news for a change and sincerly piss off !”
Shorty hung up the phone and Frank took his favorite dive bar owner's advice .
The world was going into lockdown and soon it would be a full blown pandemic.
Taking lives and striking fear and wreaking havoc all over this world.
Riots spread like wildfires people turned on each other, at the drop of a dime.
Hatred had become the new norm and the mags, were cluttered with covid writes
social justice rants .
It was a total shit storm and through it all Frank just kept penning the lines that few and fewer were reading these days,
People didn't want stories about men being drunk skirt chasers.
In truth in these times people didn't need words, they needed change and settled for rage fueled destruction instead.
Frank turned off the tv and turned on the jukebox instead.
Dialed the owner who after this shit had started, seemed to age at least fifty years.
“What the hell do you want?”
“Well hello, to you as well there sunshine, just sitting here at the bar wondering if you might like to swing by and let me out.
Or at least tell me where you hide the pillows.
So I can catch some zzz's on the pool table.”
There was a slight pause before the old fart replied,which made Frank question had he
given the old fart a damn heart attack.
“I’m going to fire Shirley tomorrow and you better pay for the damages you bastard!”
“Yeah you really need to get some better help around this place pal.”
“Yeah well if you could keep your dick out of my bartenders would really help .”
Frank cracked up at that one as he poured himself another as the Whorehouse Blues began playing from the jukebox.
“Hey I never did a damn thing to Stuart gramps .”
“That’s just because he is a man and turn that fucking jukebox off for fucks sake !
Are you brain damaged or something ? I am on my way, so just try not to do something stupid.
To attract any more attention than you already have you drunk prick.”
Frank didnt turn off the jukebox, being he had five songs left.
So he simply got some change and put it into the pool table.
He had already made the break when Shorty in his pajama bottoms and semi clean undershirt finally arrived to the party.
“About time you showed there sweetheart, you got the stripes pour yourself a beer on me.”
Shorty just shook his head, turned off the jukebox and grabbed a pool cue.
Frank and Shorty were friends by default, the bar owner and the barfly.
Shared a necessary relationship which is key to one another's existence .
And as they sat at the bar and shot the shit it was a strange magic in the room that held infinite memories for so many including Frank.
The old man looked around the room at the pics on the walls from current friends and old ghosts.
Frank always looked to one of him and Rebecca in what were much better times.
“What's eating at you gramps ? “
Frank asked as he poured another from the half empty bottle.
“I’m losing the place kid, I can barely afford to make the rent. Let alone pay help and all the other shit this virus is killing my business, I just don't know what i'm going to do.”
The old man said as tears welled up in his eyes.
Frank saw the truth behind the gruff exterior beyond these walls Shorty had nothing.
Owning a bar on the outer banks was a always gamble, from the storms always threatening to tear the place apart and the damn turons that about gave him a stroke in the summer.
Castros was a staple down here and more of a home to Frank than his own overpriced tomb.
There was a shared understanding in the silence.
“Where the fuck did you passout at ? you think that stupid bitch would notice a pair of feet sticking out of a booth.”
“I wish I had passed out in the booth, fucking woke up in that asylum you call a restrooms floor.”
“Jesus Christ kid! Grab your coat I'm taking you to the emergency room to get a damn tetanus shot just to be on the safe side.”
“As pickled as I am, I do believe I am immune to everything kind sir but I do appreciate the offer
Hey, want some breakfast? My treat I mean, seeing how you're losing your ass and everything it's the least I can do .”
“Fuck you! ya fucking prick !”
Shorty replied as he laughed as they were heading out the door into the ocean air.
The old man locked the door and they parted ways as Frank was literally a few paces from home.
That following day Frank sent over some money.
To at least cover the rent for a few months as the bar would sit closed, a ghost of a life that seemed would never fully return .
Shorty didn't have much in this life, but even if Castros was to sit, open one week and closed the next.
Frank thought the least he could do was afford the old guy a peace of mind.
No matter people’s opinions of Frank, he always paid his tab in full.
John Patrick Robbins, Is the editor in chief of the Rye Whiskey Review and Black Shamrock Magazine.
His work has been published in. 1870 Magazine, Romingo' s Porch , Heroin Love Songs, Punk Noir Magazine, San Pedro River Review, San Antonio Review, Red Fez and Piker Press.
He is also the Author of If Walls Could Speak Mine Would Blush published under his pen name Frank Murphy from Syndicate Press.
His work is always unfiltered.