The hot water pours over me. I place my hands against the wall of the shower. It's been a fucked up day. Shit, been a fucked up week. I take a deep breath an' reach out for my body wash, pourin' it in my hands. I run the soap through my hair, workin' out the sweat an' grease. I scrub at the skin of my face, down my neck, over my chest. I just wanna go to sleep. My whole fuckin' body aches from all the hours I been puttin' in. I finish washin' up the rest of me an' shut the water off. When I step outta the shower, I grab a towel off the rack. Don't even know if it's clean. Don't even care.
I dry off my body, my hair can fuckin' dry itself. My hand wipes the steam offa the mirror an' I stare at my reflection. I look fuckin' tired. My wet hair drips down my face an' neck. The stubble on my chin's gettin' worst, but I ain't felt like shavin'. Blue eyes reflect back at me, haunted an' lifeless. I turn away from the mirror an' reach for the door. 'Fore my hand touches the knob, the whole thing shakes as my brother beats his fist against it.
"You done in there, boy? We gotta go!"
I'm too fuckin' beat for this shit. Merle spends six outta seven days at that damn bar. On the seventh day, he nurses his hangover. The only income he brings in comes from fuckin' drug deals. I bust my ass to keep this shitty roof over our heads an' all he can do is fuck 'round. My hands rub at my eyes. He'll go with or without me, but he gets in too much fuckin' trouble when I ain't there to talk some sense in him.
Last month he spent a night in the tank after he got hammered an' pissed in the middle of the fuckin' parkin' lot. But none of his dumb stunts are worst than the damn barflies followin' his ass home. I'll never understand how any woman could put up with the jackass. He humiliates 'em, brings 'em home to get high an' fuck, then kicks their asses out 'fore daylight. Guess that's the kinda skanks that flock to that hole in the wall bar.
"I ain't goin'. Gotta be up at five."
"Don't gimme that shit, baby brother. You get your sorry ass outta there an' get dressed. Quit bein' such a fuckin' bitch."
I hear him stomp down the hall. My head falls against the door an' I sigh. There ain't no arguin' with the prick. I step out into the hallway an' head to my room. The door's already open an' the light's on. That son of a bitch musta been in here lookin' for somethin'. I close the door behind me, pull the top drawer outta my nightstand an' reach under. The envelope of cash I been savin's still there. I'm relieved he didn't find it, but I'm still pissed. Gotta fight down the urge to yell at him an' start a brawl in the middle of our single wide. If I make a scene outta him goin' through my room, he'll know I'm hidin' somethin'.
I pull on my boxers an' grab my old jeans. The knees are ripped open, but they're the only jeans I got left. All's I fuckin' own's my work uniforms. I put on my deodorant an' pull a black sleeveless shirt over my head. Grabbin' my pack of smokes outta my work shirt pocket, I hit the light an' close the door on my way out. I grab my work boots up an' sit on the beaten old couch to put 'em on. Merle steps outta the kitchen with a can of beer. I nod to it.
"The fuck you goin' to the bar for if you got beer here?"
"Prettier faces at the bar."
"Fuck you, asshole."
I put on my leather vest. Merle got it for me 'bout a year ago. I mean, he took it from some tweaker that owed him money. But he gave it to me, just the same. The angel wings caught my eye when he handed it to me. I ain't good by most standards but, between the two of us, I'm a damn saint. I grab my keys offa the top of the tv an' head out to the truck. The door creaks as I open it an' dust fills the air when I close it. 'Fore I start it up, I light a cigarette. Shit, just one drag an' I already feel my body relax.
He still ain't walked out the door, so I honk the horn. When he comes out he flicks me off an' bends down to finish lacin' his boot. He climbs in the passenger seat an' we head off. Thankfully, the radio took a shit so I ain't gotta listen to him bitch an' moan 'bout the music he hates. Only takes us half an hour to get there an' the sun's already startin' to set. I shut the truck off an' get out, lookin' up at the sign over the bar's doors.
Terminus: End of the Line
Merle cracks his back an' tosses his empty beer can on the floorboard. His glossy eyes meet mine an' he smiles drunkenly at me. "C'mon, boy. Let's go fuck this dog."
Every time I step inside this shit hole, I ask myself why I ever come back. I fuckin' hate this place an' all the people in it. I ain't ever liked feelin' closed in, an' this place does that to you. Merle sees some girl he knows an' walks over to her, leavin' me to myself. Ain't nothin' new there. I glance 'round to see who all came out on a Thursday night. No faces 'round here stand out to me, 'sides the bartender. She smiles in my direction an' I nod to her. As I make my way over, I consider callin' Zach to see what he's doin'. Me an' him been workin' together at the shop almost two years now. He can annoy the hell outta me sometimes but, mostly, he ain't too bad. I pull out a stool next to some old man an' sit in fronta Tara.
"Bud. An' no liquor for Merle."
"Oh, yeah? What should I say? We're fresh outta everything?"
She winks at me 'fore she reaches down to grab my beer outta the ice. I look over to the man 'side me. He holds up a shot of amber liquid, tosses it back in his mouth an' taps the bar with the empty glass. His face's blotchy an' red, his white hair stickin' out at the sides. I imagine that's what Merle's gonna look like in another twenty years. Some sad, old drunk sittin' in a bar fulla people that don't give a shit who he is. Tara hands me my beer an' grabs the glass from him.
I look over my shoulder to see Merle an' that woman dancin'. Least, they'd call it dancin'. From here it looks like he's fuckin' her with their clothes on. I can't watch that damn sideshow, so I focus on my bottle. I may not have wanted to come out here tonight, but that ice cold beer's too damn good to resist. I'll drink just enough to get a buzz an' drown out the shit 'round me. I almost choke when I hear the old man next to me let out a sob. I place the bottle back on the bar an' look at him.
His hands cover his face an' I see his shoulders shakin'. The shot sits full next to his elbow an' part of me considers movin' it outta the way 'fore he knocks it over. I look for Tara, but she's at the other end of the bar flirtin' with some dark haired girl. I'm outta my element here. I ain't ever tried to comfort nobody. For all I know, he don't wanna talk 'bout it. Maybe he just had too much to drink, he could be one of them depressin' drunks. I take another swig of my beer an' try not to focus on him. I feel someone bump into me an' turn to see Merle just 'fore he slaps his hand on the bar.
"Tara! Sugar, pour me a shot of Jack."
Tara acts like she don't hear him. 'Fore he gets pissed off, I lean over the bar an' grab him a beer. When I set it in fronta him, he just stares at it. I turn back to my own drink. If he's thirsty enough, he'll just take it an' shut the fuck up. The barfly calls out to him from the dance floor. He smiles back at her an' takes the beer with him, don't give it a second thought. I'm relieved there weren't no arguin'.
I finish off my bottle an' grab another, holdin' it up to show Tara I took it. She only smiles. She wouldn't trust Merle by hisself, but she knows I ain't gonna cheat her. I watch her touch the brunette's arm, watch the drunken girl bat her lashes up at Tara. That girl probably don't even like women that way, but Tara's too charmin' for her to resist. I shake my head an' go back to my drink. I pull out my phone to check the time when the man speaks.
"You know, I never thought I'd drink again."
I look 'round to see who he might be talkin' to. I realize there ain't no one on his other side an' he probably ain't talkin' to hisself. I don't respond to him. I don't give a shit what problems he's got. Hell, we all got fuckin' problems. All he's gotta do is turn 'round an' he'll see my biggest problem in the middle of the dance floor. I decide to drink slower. Last thing I need's to get a buzz an' have it ruined by some depressed old timer. After a moment, he keeps talkin'.
"When my youngest was born, the missus told me I needed to shape up. 'Put down that bottle an' pick up that baby girl', that's what she'd told me."
He lets out a small laugh, it even sounds forced. I look at him, but he don't meet my gaze. He's starin' down at his hands wrapped 'round that glass. I don't know what I'm s'posed to say, if I'm s'posed to say anything at all. I take another sip of my beer an' he don't say no more. Figure he's said it all. He lets out a heavy sigh, turns to face me in his stool an' holds up his glass.
"Well, I reckon since the missus is gone an' the babies are grown, I can pick up my glass again. Here's to shapin' up."
He tips the glass to his lips, takes it all in one gulp. I don't know what else to do, so I raise my bottle an' tip it to him 'fore I take another swig: To shapin' up. Tara comes back over to us, hands the guy another glass an' grabs me a cold beer. I look between the glass an' him. He don't look like he needs no more. I'd bet my next paycheck he ain't even gonna be able to walk ten feet from the bar 'fore he falls on his face. He grabs the glass in a shakin' hand an' goes to drink it again. I watch in slow motion as the shot slips through his fingers, hear the small glass shatter on the floor an' I see the amber liquid soak the wood. For a second I think to grab some napkins to clean it up.
"Daddy! What're you doin' here?"
He turns 'round, his face redder than it was a few minutes ago an' soaked in tears. I follow his gaze to the voice. A pretty little blonde walks up to the bar. Her hair's pulled up offa her neck an' some of it falls 'round her face. She's got on little cut off shorts an' a black tank top. The man reaches his hand out to her an' she grabs it. When she takes another step she slips in the spilled liquor. I had good reflexes my whole life, that's the only way I can explain my grabbin' her by the elbow to keep her from fallin' on her ass. She stares up at me, cheeks flushed an' blue eyes shinin'. She looks just's surprised as I feel. I help her back on her feet, don't look her in the eyes.
"You -uh- you alright?"
"Guess I am, thanks to you. Daddy, c'mon. Jimmy dropped me off when I saw your truck. Let's get you home an' put you to bed."
She takes his hand again, tryin' to lead him away from the bar. Just's I thought, he can't take four steps without almost fallin' over. Nearly takin' his daughter with him. I glance back to Tara an' hold up my finger, hopin' she knows I'll be right back. I slip off my stool an' walk over to the two of 'em. I grab one of his arms an' sling it over my shoulder, allowin' him to lean into my side. She stares up at me, wide-eyed an' confused. I lead him outta the door an' she follows behind me.
"Um, his truck's over here. If you don't mind helpin' me get him in, I'll take it from there."
I follow her over to his truck an' open the passenger side, helpin' the old man in an' closin' the door. I turn back to face her. She keeps on starin' at me an' I realize then how odd it must be for a complete stranger to load up your father in his own truck. I shove my hands in my pockets. I feel stupid just standin' out here like this, don't even know what made me wanna help her. She reaches her hand out to me an' I hesitate for a moment 'fore I take it.
I see her shuffle her feet in those little cowboy boots. I follow her to the driver's side an' watch her get in. She rolls down her window an' starts the truck up. The smell of gas hits me in the face. I hold my hand up to her so she don't go nowhere an' I bend down to look at the tail end of the truck. Sure's shit, there's a leak. I stand back up.
"Looks like your fuel tank's leakin'. Best get that checked out."
"Oh! I'll have daddy take it to his mechanic in the mornin'. Thanks, Daryl."
"Well, it was nice meetin' you."
She's sayin' goodbye. I realize it's probably the first an' last time I'm ever gonna see her. But I ain't no good at talkin' to a girl like her. So I just nod an' step aside so she can head out. She smiles at me an' I hate myself for not sayin' anything to her. I watch her pull outta the space an' turn left at the road. I glance down where I saw the leak an' wonder how far she'll get like that. I feel like a dick for not tryin' to do somethin' for her, but what could I do in the middle of a bar parkin' lot? I rub the back of my neck. I'm exhausted. I decide to go back in an' drag Merle's ass out. First I head back to the bar. Tara sees me, finishes mixin' the brunette's drink an' comes back over to me. I pull out my wallet.
"I'm also gonna pay for the man that was next to me. He had to leave. What do I owe you?"
"You owe me ten. Don't look so surprised. Your brother's lady friend over there's been buyin' for him all night. An' Hershel's got a tab here."
I hand her a twenty an' tell her to keep the change. I set out to find Merle. Don't take me long. Him an' that lady are pressed back against the wall next to the jukebox. His face's buried in her neck an' he's still grindin' against her. The sight makes me sick. Fuckin' hate seein' him like this. He probably don't even really know her name. But she's playin' him right. She probably knows he'll shoot her up with some dope if she comes back to the house to fuck him. I really don't wanna deal with that shit tonight. I clear my throat. He don't hear me, but she does. She taps his shoulder an' points to me. He looks back.
"The fuck you want, boy? You don't see I'm busy?"
"C'mon, Merle. I'm headin' home."
"Meet you there, little brother. Me an' Denise here are gonna get a few more shots an' then she'll bring me home."
She looks pissy. "My name's Darla."
He laughs at her an' I see his hand disappear under her skirt. I turn away. She's just as dumb as any other woman he brings home. I can't understand how some woman's gonna let a bastard like Merle feel her up in the middle of all them people. But I don't give a shit. I'm too fuckin' tired to mess with 'em. I head back out to my truck an' toss the empty can outta my window. The last thing I need's gettin' pulled over by some dickhead cop 'cause my brother ain't got no common sense. I get to the exit an' head right. When I get home, I kick my boots off at the door an' head to the kitchen. I ain't ate shit since lunch an' I'm fuckin' starvin'. I open the fridge an' see we ain't got shit. When I close it, I stare at the utility bills on the door. That, rent an' car insurance all comes out in a two week span. Also the reason why we ain't ever got no food. My stomach growls as I head back to my room.
I close an' lock my door behind me as I take my vest off an' toss it to the side. I pull the shirt over my head an' undo my jeans. I get down to my boxers an' climb into bed. The mattress is hard as a slab of concrete an' my fuckin' back screams in protest. I lay there for a while, almost consider just crashin' on the couch when I hear Merle an' Darla come in. The two of 'em stumble to his room right next to mine. They're quiet for 'bout half an hour an' I imagine they've started shootin' up.
It ain't long 'fore I hear her high pitched squeals an' the headboard bangin' against the wall. I roll onto my stomach an' wrap my pillow 'round my head as I hear that skank cry out. I don't wanna think of my brother fuckin' some girl in the next room. The last thing I want's to hear it. I reach my hand out to my nightstand an' hit the power on my radio. I don't give a shit what's playin', I just wanna drown 'em out.
I turn it up enough to where I can hardly make 'em out. I close my eyes an' I start to drift off. For some reason, I can't get the image of that man's daughter outta my head. I see her long pale legs, her small body an' pretty face. An' then there were those big blue eyes. I feel myself get hard an' I try to change my thoughts back to sleep. I ain't 'bout to sit here fantasizin' 'bout some girl I ain't ever gonna see again with the background noise of those two idiots fuckin' in there. I shut my eyes tight an' think 'bout the work I gotta do tomorrow. Ain't long after that I finally fall asleep. An' I dream of that little blonde.