Patrick Ward words, code, and music

Tell Me About Yourself

I’m not really sure where this story came from. To tell you the truth, I was thinking of a different story. I started the dialog though, and it just kind of grew on it’s own.

Tell Me About Yourself

I look up from the bottom of my glass to see the bartender staring at me. His hair is slicked back, dark brown, with a hint of a sharpened widow’s peak. His eyes are a dull amber, same color as the beer in front of me. I’ve never seen him before, but he has one of those oddly familiar patterns to his face. His body moves rhythmically as he wipes the bar with a dirty dish towel.

“Tell me about yourself,” he says.

“What do you want to know?” I respond.

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“Then,” I say, “It doesn’t matter what I tell you.”

“I s’pose not.”

He doesn’t say a word after that, just keeps wiping the bar, inching slowly away from me.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” I whisper, “It’s just been one of those days. The name’s Stewart. And you?”

“Mickey. Pleased,” he says, nodding slightly while keeping his eyes suspiciously level on mine.

“Well, Mickey, ever have one of those days when the world just seems to shift out from underneath your feet? You know, when you feel like you’re falling with every step? And the day just keeps repeating itself over and over again?”

“Bad day, huh?”

“The worse,” I reply, taking the last swig of my beer, “I’ll have another one of those. And a whiskey chaser.”

I throw the whiskey to the back of my throat in one gulp. The beer is smooth, creamy, and cold, best thing I’ve had all day.

“Ever think about killing yourself Mickey?”

“Nah, I aint that kinda dude. Hey, you’re not thinking of…”

“No. No worries, it’s just a thought.”

He stops wiping the counter at this point and looks me straight in the eye.

“Mister,” he says, “you don’t want to go down that road. I lost my dad that way. It’s a goddamn selfish thing to do!”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Mister, if you’re thinking of…”

“No, Mickey, don’t worry. I’m not thinking that.”

I look back down at my glass. The froth on the beer is thick.

“I have a son,” I say, “His name is Michael.”

“How old is he?” he replies.

“He’s seven. Funny kid, always coming up with stories. Likes to act them out in front of us in the living room.”

The bartender chuckles a little. “I used to do that,” he says, “Used to set up whole plays, in three acts! Man, I wish I would have saved those notebooks. Brings me back.”

“You wrote them up in notebooks?”

“Yeah, I had a whole library full of em.”

“So, what did you do with them?” I ask, looking up at him.

He seems to stare off into the distance a little and then says, “I burnt ‘em.”

“Wh..why?” I ask incredulously.

“Right after my dad died, I was about, I don’t know, maybe six or seven, I just kinda shut down for awhile. My mom says she found me in the backyard, just burning everything I had. Burnt every book, every drawing, every piece of paper I owned.”

I look at him for minute: “You don’t remember doing it?”

“No. Not really.”

“Well,” I say, “Did you ever do any more plays?”

“No. I never felt inspired to do it anymore. I kinda started getting into trouble after that. So, that shit just kind of seemed stupid after awhile.”

“You should of kept with it.”

“Yeah, well,” he says, “I didn’t. You want another?”

“Sure. And another chaser.”

He turns to the counter behind him and starts to pour the whiskey. As he’s pouring I’m trying to remember what brought me to this place, what was so bad about my day anyway? It suddenly dawns on me that I really don’t remember anything before I started talking to the bartender.

The glasses clink against each other as he shoves them across the counter towards me, waking me out of my daze.

Maybe I’m just feeling the affects of the alcohol, I think. Maybe that’s a good thing. If my day was so bad, I don’t want to remember it anyway.

“I’m sorry about your father,” I say, “Sounds like it really affected you.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t really like talking about it.”

“Oh,” I say, my head lowered, “I’m sorry.”

“Quit saying your sorry, dammit! Shit happens. It was a long time ago.”

“Sorr…uh, you’re right.”

But I can’t leave it at that.

I kind of blurt out: “It’s just that, I can’t help but think of my own son. I mean, it’s really making me think. What would he do if I were gone? If I really did off myself?”

Mickey looks at me with those cold, amber eyes again and says:

“Listen brother. You gotta know that the actions you take in your own life affect everyone around you. You’re not just some lone wolf out there, you know, you got a family depending on you, man. You leave them in a lurch like that, it’s not just you checking out, it’s them too! You think about that, Mister. Think hard. Cause the stupid shit you’re thinking now, is going to affect that little boy of yours for the rest of his life.”

The blood rushes to my head and creates a fog of emotion. I can feel a tear start to pool at the corner of my eye.

What the hell was so bad about my day? God! I can’t remember!

“Listen,” he says, “I know whatever pain you’re feeling now might seem unbearable. But, you gotta know it’s gonna pass.”

“I know,” I croak, barely audible. I notice my hands are covering my head at this point.

“Hang in there,” he says.

We just kind of sit there for a minute or two, before he spits out, “And don’t be a pussy. Cause if you’re thinking about it. Well, I’d just as soon you leave now. I’m not a hotline service, man. I can’t handle this crap.”

“Sorr…yeah, I know. I’m not gonna do anything. Thanks for talking to me. I really appreciate it. How much do I owe you?”

“It’s on the house. Just don’t be stupid, kay?”

“No. I’m good. Thanks again.”

I lay out a ten dollar bill on the counter as a tip.

“Hey Mickey,” I ask,”what’s your last name?”

“Walker.”

“No shit? That’s my last name.”

“That’s just way too freaky man,” he says.

“Why?”

“Because my father’s name was Stewart Walker.”

And then I remember. I didn’t have a bad day today. It’s the same day over and over again.