posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 09:13 PM
He sits down on the barstool, the vinyl fabric giving a small creak as he settles in. A waitress sets a basket of corn tortilla chips and one of those
little black cups of salsa in front of him…the kind with the little nub feet on them. He looks at them, lighting up a cigarette and takes a long
“You can’t smoke in here,” the bartender says in a thick Spanish accent as he watches him blow out a stream of smoke from his mouth, pouty lips
turning downward as he stamps out the cigarette in an empty glass nearby. The bartender waves the smoke away with a rag and approaches him. “What
would you like? Qué deseas?”
He shrugs. The words seem to fall like dry leaves being blown by the Santa Ana outside, his voice rough from tobacco and weariness as he requests his
usual: a shot of silver tequila and whiskey sweet.
The bartender nods and turns around, pouring the respective liquors. He knows little about him, from what meager conversation he had. He just likes to
keep to himself. Like the others.
Out of the far corner, the jukebox plays a solemn country song from a distant era, the plaintive singing providing background noise for him. Maybe
they won’t come. It will be quiet this time. He looks around, wondering. He hasn’t slept in days; the week had been so bad for him.
The screaming. The crying. Bodies lying around him. Silvery blood spreading across the dusty ground of the asteroid. He wants the visions to stop, but
even if a small break had happened, they would come back more horrifying than ever.
Bartender sets the shot glass and tumbler in front of him. “Three fifty,” he says quietly as he watches him reach for his wallet and peel off four
hundred dollar bills.
He tells the bartender to keep the change as he hands them over before picking up the shot glass and downing its contents. The tequila burns as it
goes down, but it’s a good burn. Purifying. Almost.
“So what happened?” The bartender is looking at his arm. A bionic arm. Her name is Molly, he wants to say. But what did the therapist say about
giving objects personification? Who cares, it’s his Molly. He looks up and tells his story, watering it down as best as he can so it doesn’t sting
as much. Like a bandage made of duct tape over the raw wounds he still carries. He leaves out Vesta. No one needs to know about that. Never.
He watches the bartender give him a solemn nod, then go back to the cash register where he finds his money.
“It’s on the house,” he says. “You are a veteran. You served proudly.”
He wants the bartender to keep it, but the man keeps shoving the money back at him. Reluctantly, he takes the crumpled bills and puts them back in his
wallet. But he keeps one out as a tip; he doesn’t care what he’s going to say about it. He just wants to be…normal. For once. He doesn’t want
a free ride like all the other ex-soldiers like him are getting.
Suddenly a beeping noise sounds, and he almost jumps out of his chair. It’s just the PSI-Key. With an irritated sigh, he slips on the device,
probably looking swag with the sunglasses. But as soon as he presses the button on the arm, his mind buzzes and a picture of the police chief comes
He turns off the glasses and tells the bartender he has to go. He takes another drink of the whiskey and slips off the stool to the door.
“Officer Bobby Krieger,” The bartender calls out to him as his hand rests on the doorknob.
He stops. It’s rare when someone other than the chief is saying his name. He isn’t even sure if he ever told him his name.
“You’re not going to die today.”
He wants to turn back and say something...a thank you maybe... but he keeps his eyes forward. He walks out the door into the midday California sun,
and disappears into the glare.