Let me preface this piece by explaining that it’s not what people are used to reading from me because I have spent the last three plus years sporadically writing fantasy. But, a lot of my older work was about the things lonely and depressed people did to cope. I think I’ve proven to myself and to the precious few who read this thing that I can write in the fantasy genre, and this is me kind of going back to my roots for funzies.
The inside of The Office, off the corner of 6th and Avenida Del Vista, was humid with the evaporated sweat of its patrons at happy hour. He swore he could feel the collective stench of the place seeping into his skin cells. The thought was singularly unpleasant enough to distract him from the curly haired brunette in a teal scoop neck currently eye humping him. She had been giving him “the look” for the last fifteen minutes and he had pretended not to notice that she had returned from the bathroom no longer wearing her bra. He knew that despite the bar’s olfactory mine field, that she could smell his emotional unavailability and the taciturn demeanor which so often reminded women of their fathers. Did she know about the divorce too? Probably. That sort of thing leaves a mark. What about his spurned confession to Emily just minutes after Cynthia had him sign the papers? Scoop neck had to have known about that.
Joel peered around, purposely avoiding looking in the direction of the woman he’d be spending the night with. Aside from himself, The Office never had a set of regulars but every night he spent here was the same. The bartender complained about the heat and not so subtly unbuttoned her shirt where the men could see her. A table of housewives gossiped over sugar rimmed cocktails. Another loner usually sulked near by, babysitting a half shot of scotch he clearly didn’t enjoy, sporting thick rimmed glasses or a neatly trimmed beard, and brooding over some scrawled notes in a journal or notebook. Upon some introspection, Joel decided that while he commended the faux-artistes for their commitment to the bit, he really hated people who pretended at being intellectual. Finally, there was Joel, the idiot who didn’t even have enough self respect to drink alone and lacked the payroll to really get drunk in a bar. Resigning himself to another night of shallow escapism, he downed his Johnny Walker Red, made eye contact with the woman in teal, and then walked over.
Almost three hours later, while standing naked in Scoop Neck’s bathroom, his cell phone read that it was 11:34. He thought the number appropriate and grabbed a baby wipe from the package sitting on the travertine sink counter. Sighing, he proceeded to clean himself off. The condoms she had him use left a gunky residue he didn’t want to fall asleep with, but after going through two wipes he called it a lost cause. Joel slipped his boxers back on, flicked the light off, and stood in the dark room for a full minute before he finally creaked into Scoop Neck’s bed. He hated sleeping alone. Lying on his back, he got a good look at the ceiling. It reminded him of Cynthia’s dorm room.