Time for the Whiskey (Story by Risa Peris)

He was a poet. That didn’t mean much. Not at all. Nobody cared about poets. Well, maybe back in Ancient Greece. Homer was a poet and the Iliad and The Odyssey got passed down over the campfires. Poets meant something then. They don’t mean much now. The poetry section at most bookstores is small and people just aren’t into strange words or arcane situations. He knew Maya Angelou was popular. But she pandered to the women. That’s what he thought.

But he was a poet. Definitely. He was a welder during the day and words flooded his brain as he worked. After work, he usually went to Ben’s Place. Some kind of dive bar with drunks, ragged women, and Garth Brooks and Tom Waits exploding from the speakers. It was kind of hard to talk in there but talking wasn’t why he went. It was always two tall beers and two fingers of whiskey. It washed the day for him. After Ben’s he went home, showered, and then wrote at his desk facing the window. He would write poems and then break it up with ten minutes of news every half hour. He got really tired at ten. He lived in a small room above a bakery and when it was time to sleep the bakery was blasting with noise. Clinking pans. Pounding. Sizzling. He got used to sleeping through it.

The next day – the same routine. When he got to Ben’s a woman approached him. She had frizzy blonde hair that was likely made coarse by too much blond dye. The white’s of her eyes were red. She slurred her words.

“Can I help you with something, honey?”

The poet shook his head. “Not interested in pros.”

The woman frowned. “I’m no pro. I work in a toy factory. Dumb job. Tell me something interesting.”

“Frizzy leaned into me, she stunk of gin, she could barely say toy, I wonder what toy she had, fresh as green grass at three, was it a doll or was it a kitchen, did she flip plastic hamburgers, it don’t matter, she’s now withering, she grows no more, her life is closed before the death the toll, all she has is booze and boys, one day the boys will disappear, but she will always have booze.”

“That’s stupid.” Frizzy pouted.

“I’m a poet. All I have is booze. Poetry is for dreamers and I only dream at home. My life is closed. Don’t worry. It’s not all bad.”

Frizzy staggered to the door and then flipped him off. The poet shrugged.

“Time for the whiskey,” he yelled to the bartender.


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