The Bartender

By Joseph Logsdon

Robin Jackson was a very lonely man. As a boy, Robin discovered that he was homosexual. Sadly, Robin's parents rejected his sexuality. He was bullied, belittled, and condemned. When Robin turned 18, he left his hometown and moved to New York. To Robin's surprise, New York was not an accepting city. Robin's employer condemned him for being gay. Despite Robin's anger, he could do nothing to stop the neglect. As time passed, Robin turned to drinking and lost his job. In the end, Robin Jackson remained lonely and depressed.

Robin loved a man named Edward Grant. Sadly, Edward was a straight man. Robin wanted to tell Edward how he felt, but he knew that he would be rejected. Edward was a local bartender in New York. One afternoon, Robin walked into the bar and decided to confess his love. Edward was a very handsome man, especially during business hours. Women loved Edward Grant, but they knew that he was out of their league. However, Robin was determined to seduce the most desired bachelor in the city.

"How have you been, Robin?" Edward asked.

"Edward, how long has it been since I moved to New York?"

"I don't know, Robin. Why do you ask?"

"I'm a failure, a failure with no future. I wanted to be a stage actor, but I wasn't talented enough. I'm a poor man, Edward. Life has become difficult, so very difficult. I wanted to show the world that a little man could succeed in a big city. I'm broke, penniless, and out of luck. What am I going to do?"

"Robin, don't be so hard on yourself. Life is hard, especially when you're an adult. Adults have to work 40 hours a week, but what do they get out of it? In the end, we're all slaves in this capitalist system. You understand what I'm saying, don't you?"

"Yes, I understand. Still, we can't just sit around complaining about the government. Ultimately, arguing will do more harm than good."

"True, but we should always question authority. Robin, you need to get more assertive, even if that means giving up your current image and starting over."

"What do you mean?" Robin asked.

"You're a very nice guy. However, your fragile nature makes you look weak. Employers want a leader, not a follower. You understand what I'm saying, right?"

"I understand, at least I think I do. Edward, you've been so kind to me these past few months. How can I repay you?"

"You don't have to repay me, Robin. I love helping people, especially when they're down on their luck. Women love me because I'm kind to them. In a way, you and I are very similar."

"How so?" Robin asked.

"We're both compassionate, but I'm better at showing my compassion. You can improve, if only you would stop wasting time. You need to be a leader, not a follower."

"Can I tell you something, Edward?" Robin asked.

"What is it?"

"I feel love, love that has cured me of misery. Do you know what I mean, Edward?"

"No," he answered.

"Ever since I saw you, I've been in love with you. You have touched my heart, soul, and mind. Sadly, I know that you could never love me. I wish that weren't true, I really do. Unlike most men, you mean so much to me. I love the way you walk, talk, and think. I can't get you out of my mind, Edward! I'm jealous, terribly jealous of your charm and wit. If I can't have you, I'll go insane."

Edward was shocked to learn that his friend was sexually attracted to him. In that moment, the room became silent and tense. Tears poured down Robin's cheeks, tears that nourished and tormented his soul. Edward wanted to protect Robin, but he knew that he would have to tell him the truth.

"I don't know what to say, Robin. Do you really feel this way about me?"

"I love you more than anything," he answered.

"I wish I could say the same, I really do. Robin, as long as we're making confessions, I have one to make myself."

"What is it?"

"I know you think that you're the only gay man in this bar, but you aren't."

"What do you mean?" Robin asked.

"Robin, I'm gay."

"That can't possibly be true!" Robin laughed in a nervous voice.

"Sounds strange, doesn't it? I've been gay all my life, Robin. Naturally, my family didn't approve. Because of my troubled past, I decided to take on the persona of a player. That way, no one would ever suspect me of being gay."

"Have you ever been with a woman?" Robin asked.

"I've never been with one, Robin. Being gay is a lifestyle, not a choice. I love women, but I could never have sex with one. You understand, don't you?"

"Of course I do. So, why can't we be together?" Robin asked.

"Somehow, I knew you would ask that question. I like you, I really do. However, I'm not attracted to you. Just because I'm gay, doesn't mean that I'm automatically going to be attracted to every man that I see," Edward laughed.

In that moment, Robin Jackson felt betrayed. Like the rest of society, Edward had rejected him. Tears of sadness fell down his red and pasty face. Eventually, those tears became tears of anger as tension grew in the room.

"Are you laughing at me?" Robin asked in an angry voice.

"I'm trying not to laugh, but I can't help it. Love is a very strange thing, isn't it? Sometimes, love can be obvious, but that isn't true in your case, is it? You tried to hide your love from me, from everyone," he laughed.

"What are you trying to say?"

"Isn't it obvious, Robin? You tried to hide your feelings from me, even though I already knew how you felt. Face it, I'm out of your league! If I had wanted you, I would've acted on my feelings the very first day. Don't get me wrong, I respect you. Despite that, we could never be lovers."

"Why not?"

"We're just too different," he answered.

Suddenly, Robin could no longer take Edward's insults. From that moment on, Robin behaved in a very violent manner.

"I thought you cared for me!" Robin shouted.

"I do care for you, but I'm not attracted to you. Like heterosexuals, homosexuals can be equally judgmental, don't you think? If you really think about it, homosexuals can cause you more trouble than heterosexuals. Heterosexuals hate us because of what we are, but homosexuals hate us because of who we are. They don't see our sexuality, they see our identity. In the end, our own kind judges us more. I wish you could understand this, I really do."

"I understand, Edward. You're rejecting me, but because of who I am, not what I am. Well, that hurts even more, Edward! After all these years, I thought I had finally found a soul mate. Sadly, I was wrong. You taught me a great lesson today, Edward."

"What lesson is that?" Edward asked.

"In the end, life sucks!"

After several seconds, Robin Jackson left the bar. As the night continued, Robin grew increasingly miserable. Like so many other lost souls, Robin locked himself in his room and thought about his troubled life. He was without love, without hope. Ultimately, only time would finish the story of Robin Jackson.