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Woman Walks into a Bar

 
 
From Confrontation

Woman walks into a bar. Woman walks into a bar, removes gloves, reveals slender fingers, healthy cuticles, strong tendons. Woman walks into a bar, removes gloves, walks along the bar, leather bag hits her hip, wool coat brushes her ankles, woman sits by a fake fireplace. Woman removes coat and scarf, drapes them over a chair. Woman walks into a bar, looks around as if she hasn’t been here before. Looks around, glances at the bartender, turns away, looks at him again, freezes, lays a hand on her coat and scarf, moves for her bag, freezes, woman walks into a bar, bartender comes over, gray at the temples, crow’s feet at the eye-edges, too heavy for his height. Bartender moves toward woman, frozen woman, bartender asks what will you have, woman says scotch and water. Bartender finds the booze, an oversized ring clinking against the bottle, against the glass when he brings the drink to her. Woman walks into a bar, orders a drink, lays down cash, starts a tab. Woman watches bartender pour her drink, imagines him re-married to a woman not her mother, imagines his new children, imagines his weariness. Woman considers her own weariness, her imagination’s funk, its insolence, how it makes her itch. Woman walks into a bar, gets a drink, becomes cross. Woman fishes around in her bag for a cigarette, woman hasn’t smoked in years but bought a pack this morning, just for today, for this bar, this bartender. Woman’s slender fingers tremble holding the delicate thing, woman searches again, realizes she has no lighter, knocks the cigarette away, woman’s cigarette rolls away from her, rolls down the shiny bar, rolls down to a shiny man. Man catches the cigarette, walks it back to her. Shiny man, kind demeanor, unobtrusive sitter, sits next to her. Shiny man, flannel scarf around his shoulders, gives her the cigarette, offers her a light, burns briefly for her, flame goes out. Shiny man notes slender fingers, slender torso, slender nose, slender cigarette, woman walks into a bar, slender, reed-like, sashaying along, looks at the bartender, looks away, smokes a cigarette, lets a shiny man light her up. Bartender comes over, says need a refill, woman freezes, imagines a small home and a girlfriend, not a wife. Imagines no children, imagines strife and discontent. Imagines bartender recognizing a young woman, grown up now, seeking connection. Woman says no thanks, disconnects. Woman lays her hand on her draped coat. Woman smokes, shiny man says my name is Terry, woman says I’m Ariadne. Shiny man, already perplexed, woman walks into a bar, removes coat, orders drink, ponders men, says again Ar-ee-AHD-nee, man comprehends. Ariadne’s thread, the woman says, runs you out of the labyrinth. Man says I didn’t know Ariadne was a name, man eyes slender Ariadne and forgets his mind. Shiny man watches her mouth pull on the cigarette, draw his flame, thinks of a spool of thread unraveling. Man removes scarf from his neck, lays it over his knees. Woman walks into a bar, woman in a tunic, a pair of jeans, slenderized, smoking a man’s flame, watches bartender, says I’ve seen this bartender before. Man looks at her, looks at the bartender shining hot glasses. Once before, the woman says, I don’t remember where I grew up. Man says how can you not know that, he laughs a little, he thinks he is being toyed with by a slender crazy woman. Woman walks into a bar, orders a drink, says I have no memory and I’m glad of it. Woman looks at bartender, gets lost in bartender. No pictures? the shiny man says, wanting to be helpful, wanting to make sense. Woman smokes, says there was a fire and then I lost my memory. Bartender moves for the miniature refrigerator, woman freezes, turns to clay, stops breathing. Clay woman liquid inner, a container for the slosh of her, no breath left. Shiny man says can I buy you another, you’ve stopped drinking, gestures toward the empty glass, says what don’t you remember? Woman walks into a bar, confesses lost memory, gestures toward the bartender, says that man is my father and I haven’t seen him in twenty-five years. Shiny man says what man, woman says that man, the bartender, bartender pours the woman another, woman watches his shiny ring glint, shiny man watches woman extinguish, says I’ll take care of it, opens a wallet of wadded cash, leather wallet spouts a twenty, shiny man lays it on the bar. Woman walks into a bar, strips off heavy layers, smokes, drinks, watches the bartender, can’t believe his fixtured face, can’t believe his age. Shiny man says twenty-five years, woman says, so, is there a resemblance? Shiny man says yes, a little, in the forehead, the shape of the mouth, there is a resemblance, yes, but I see it only now that you mention it. Woman walks into a bar, drinks her drinks, says that man behind the bar isn’t a bartender, isn’t a father, isn’t a man. She says he looks like old age, drinks her scotch, watches the shiny man watch her, wonders about his layers, sees his shed and hassle slick on the bar floor, woman walks into a bar, remembers her lost memory, deciphers recognition, drinks scotch, holds slosh, gets drunk, stumbles over nothing. Shiny man becomes an interesting man, shiny man a peripatetic companion, shiny man opens wallet, puts another twenty down, bartender/father pours woman/daughter another, blank and without recognition, woman wants only the burn of scotch. Woman walks into a bar, lights up, burns up, loses track of time, loses track of a shiny man putting on his scarf, saying come on I’ll take you home. Woman clings to the barstool, soul-heavy weight melted buttocks onto it, says this bartender is a fraud, he is actually a man, a mere man who burns his daughters alive, see the scars for yourself, and she rolls up her sleeves. Shiny man says, come on, let’s go home. Woman walks into a bar, shiny man feeds her, scotch bleeds her, the layers go back on, piled thickly, cautioning her against future revelation. Outside, the shiny man holds his car door open for her, holds his interest in her, holds her hand during her fall into the passenger seat. Woman walks into a bar, forgets childhood, gets drunk, dozes in a stranger’s soporific sedan. Shiny man pokes her shoulder, says where do you live, the woman stirs, says I can’t remember. Woman walks into a bar, summons short-term recall, finds nothing. Summons her mind out of slumber, calls upon habit, remembers Beech Street, remembers a butter-yellow couch and freshly painted walls, a door with a knocker, and that’s where the shiny man drives. Shiny man drives lonely, sees a woman now forgetful and drunk and compelling. Woman walks into a bar, gets drunk, becomes a spectacle. Shiny man pulls into Beech Street, slows to a crawl, pokes her shoulder, says, which place? Woman says stop here, releases herself onto the sidewalk, sloshing and desultory. Woman walks into a bar, drinks scotch, shows scorched forearms, scarred palm, gets drunk, has black and thin thoughts. Woman flows onto the sidewalk, finds the set of stairs to her apartment. Shiny man stands at the car, door still open, says okay? Says do you have your keys? Says I didn’t even know that Ariadne was a name, sees the spool of her sitting there, looks for her thread. Woman walks into a bar, finds a father, smokes for the first time in fifteen years, loses a father, says he can’t be a man. Shiny man waves, says see you later Ariadne, drives away, remembers her name. Woman doesn’t say thanks. Woman walks into a bar, forgets her manners, is rude. Woman sits on concrete steps, woman drunk, woman singed, woman forgets how to say goodbye.

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