This guy, thought Barry the bartender to himself—as he had done almost every weekend night for the last ten-odd years—this guy seriously needed to get a life.
It was always the same. He was pleasant enough when he came in and sat down, smiling a greeting:
"Hey, Barry. How's it going."
But then he would start ordering double shots of Jim Beam, and sometime around drink number five he would start droning on, his slurred speech laced with excessive profanity, about the dead girl:
"She was only nineteen. It was so fucking stupid. It was—it was fucking bullshit. She was—do you wanna see a picture of her? Look, this is her."
He held up his phone. Expecting to see the same photograph of the smiling young pale-faced girl with the blue hair, wearing a black dress and holding a glass of yellow wine up to the camera, Barry humored him and looked.
"That's not her," Barry said, looking away again. "That's a pair of tits."
"Oh. Wrong photo." He looked at the phone screen and chuckled, then started coughing into his fist, which was smeared with motor oil.
Often, sometime around the sixth or seventh drink, he would get belligerent. The weekend before last, he had shoved some dude back against the wall so hard that the dude's head shattered the glass on a framed newspaper clipping that hung there. Barry never found out why. A few months back, he had punched some other dude in the face over a game of pool.
"I did?" he asked the following Friday when Barry reminded him of it.
"Yeah. I honestly don't know why they still let you in here."
"Shit, I don't even know how to play pool." He laughed, and slid his empty glass across the tiles. "Can I get another?"
At least tonight the place was closing early, so he wouldn't have time to get to that stage. Barry might not even have to hear about that girl's tragic death tonight.
"You're closing early? What the hell, man?"
"It's Christmas eve, Roger. Get outta here, go home. Go spend time with your family."
"Fuck my family. Fuck Christmas. Come on, please, Barry, just get me one more, just one shot."
He was so pathetic, in that same dirty camo-colored hoodie that he'd had on last winter and the winter before that, with his hair hanging in long tangles to his shoulders, bourbon glistening on his chapped lips. The look in his eyes, which were light brown, reminded Barry of the look that his old Jack Russell, Merle, had given him when he accidentally ran him over with the pickup truck in his driveway, right before he stopped shuddering in his arms and went limp.
It was pretty sad, really. Roger wasn't even thirty yet. Young enough to be Barry's son. Barry filled a shot glass to the brim and sat it down in front of him with his bill, a slip of yellow paper.
"You need to get out of here, Roger. I ain't kidding. You need to get a life."