The night had started with rejection; the lit mags did not want my stories and neither did the ladies. My favorite shirt was missing, my dog had just died, and I'd lost twenty bucks. I repeated myself to anyone who would listen, and if they did not leave me alone I repeated myself again.
I dominated a table made for four with the bottles from my excess collected to the sides. The ashtray overflowed. I like for these things to pile up so that I can feel like I've accomplished something. A girl sat down at my table.
"We're celebrating cause I beat the rape charges," I lied. I swayed. It was dark and I was wearing sunglasses. I claimed to be a poker player.
The girl moved away from me, which was fine; I didn't want to talk to her anyway.
I ordered more beer.
"Jesus," the waitress said, "Don't you think you've had enough?"
I threw my hands up in a gesture of triumph, knocking some of the bottles off the table in the process.
"ˇViva Cuba!" I exclaimed and once again I was left alone.
Jackson showed up out of the multitude to see if I was still alright.
"Did I miss anything?" he asked.
"No," I lied.
He left me to search for fun and that's when trouble walked in the door. She took the cigarette from behind my ear and placed it in her mouth.
"Got a light?" she asked.
Obediently I lit her cigarette.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Trouble," she said.
"Ah, of course," I thought.
I waited but she did not ask my name so I threw her my best grin and she smiled in spite of herself.
Trouble was very busy pretending she was Australian, but she wasn't as good at handling her booze as she imagined; she was just the kind of girl I was looking for.
I leaned back in my chair bracing the table and the coins spilled out my pocket. They all landed tails like it predicted my future.
"So what do you want to do?" she asked. I grinned.
Later, I would recall this as the only time I danced in Chicago.
Trouble was a handful. A girl bumped into her on the dance floor and Trouble shoved her into a table.
"What's your problem?" the girl yelled.
"What's your problem?" Trouble yelled back in her strained, fake Australian accent.
"How old are you?" I asked.
"Twenty-one," She said. Yeah, right.
"I just had an abortion," she confessed.
"I was just circumcised," I replied.
"Cool," She said and we danced some more and I started feeling a little better.
We sat down at my cluttered table and I gave her a cigarette. I am a firm believer that any smoker will listen to you bitch as long as you keep providing free smokes. I started to bitch. I told her what was bothering me. Not lies, but the truth. The whole, God-awful truth.
"I have to take a piss. I'll be right back," Trouble told me.
The waitress cleared the bottles and emptied the ashtray and I sat staring at the dark wood she'd revealed, alone for almost an hour.
My roommate showed up to collect me and head home. He could tell I was depressed.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yes," I lied and we left.
Copyright © 2006 Brian ChildsSend us your comments on this article