The bar wasn’t particularly busy. At this late mid-day hour, the Tucson heat was brutal. I stepped in with my shirt clinging to my body like a wet condom. I stood a moment in the dim coolness, sponging the ever present beads of sweat off my forehead, tossing the damp napkin into the waste bin, allowing the minute for my eyes to adjust to the murk. A sports game blared from the small television mounted to the wall, a bloated middle aged couple took up a booth as a gang of five or six students from the local University occupied the far end of the long counter. I sat at a stool close to them.
“Whatcha havin’?” Asked the bartender, a scrawny and withered woman with a scowl that wouldn’t quit. I am certain she offed a few husbands in her day.
“What do you have in Mexican beers?”
Eye roll in an attempt to think, “We got Teecatee, Carona, and Es Oh El.”
“Es Oh El? You mean Sol?”
“Whatever you call it. I don’t speak Spanish.”
“It’s Spanish for sun. It’s on the logo.” I smiled.
“You want one or not?” She sighed.
After begging for a salt shaker and a lime slice, I sat and sipped my beer. The cold liquid felt good going down. It made me nostalgic for other times…better days. The group of students were in a heated debate over the new theory of the earth being flat. This idea came into fruition a year or so ago, was all over the internet.
One of the snap-back wearing jocks glanced at me, “You believe that, mister?” He pointed to the pinch-faced red headed girl who sat in the group. “She actually believes the world is flat? That retarded or what?”
I took a sip and asked the girl, “I wouldn’t say retarded…but let’s look at it logically. You believe all the planets in the solar system….the moons, the asteroids, the sun and the stars…all the 1500 plus other worlds located by astronomers….they are all round?”
“Yes.” She stated.
“And yet, the earth is the only flat one?” I asked.
“Well, they all revolve around the earth. The earth is the center of the universe.”
I paused, looking at her and stated as if speaking to someone possessing a mental deficiency, “Everything you just said is wrong. I understand it’s acceptable in your generation to say the first thing that pops into your head for the vain attempt in garnering attention…no matter how ludicrous. However, I assure you, this rock you’re sitting on is round and is not at the center of everything.”
“That’s your antiquated belief.” She began, “You see, obviously it was your generation and the one’s before that screwed it for us all. This planet is polluted, over populated…this planet is dying. And we have you old folks to thank for that.”
“That may be true. But, at least we were never ignorant enough to claim the earth was flat merely for attention. On the opinion this planet is dying, I agree in most of what you are saying. I am a writer and an extensive traveler. I have experienced much in my time. There is no more originality. No more ingenuity. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. I don’t blame you for grasping at what you may deem as an original idea to feed your lifeless ego…but this flat earth nonsense, it was proven wrong centuries prior and it will be proven wrong again.”
The guy with the snap back chimed, “You a writer?”
“Yeah.” I croaked. His friends turned their attention toward the red head and continued their empty debate.
“What do you write?”
“Garbage, apparently.” I looked at his perplexed face. “Novels. Published.”
“I’m studying journalism at U of A. You have any tips?”
I slowly took a sip of my beer, “Tips? Tips…you best be comfortable sitting for eight hours staring at a blank page on your monitor. Never force it. It will come out as crap. However, when the muse does hit, write it all out – raw, unedited, savage. Let your thoughts and ideas flow. When you are done and you have told the story you want to tell, put it away. Forget about it for a few days. Then go back and read it as if you are a reader. Then you edit, see what fits, what to add, what to dismiss. The first draft, you write with the heart. The second and continuing edited versions, you write with the head.”
In response, I received befuddled silence.
“Indeed.” I finally said. “Well, I’m stepping out for a smoke.”
“Mind if join you.” He stated with the enthusiasm of youth.
"It's a free country," I said sliding off my stool. "Or at least it used to be..."
Out back of the bar, the air was stagnate and hellishly hot. True, it was a welcomed reprieve from the bone chilling climate I endured up in Flagstaff, but still there are limits. I fished a cigarette from my pocket, placed it in my mouth, lit up.
He teetered from hill to toe with hands in his jean pockets, with an almost coy smile he ask, “Hey, can I get a smoke off you?”
“Uh…yeah. Sure.” I handed him a smoke.
“You from Tucson?” He asked, blowing grey fumes to the dry and dusty alley pavement.
“No. As a fact, before a previous month’s stint in Flagstaff, I was staying in Tijuana.”
“Tijuana? In Mexico?”
“Is there another one?”
“Nah, it’s just…isn’t it dangerous down there?”
“Not at all. In fact, I feel safer walking down the streets of TJ at three in the morning than I would in any major city here in the states. Americans are a vicious. They scare me.”
“You don’t like the United States?”
“It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I don’t particularly agree with the direction it seems to be heading. Too Orwellian.”
“Read George Orwell’s 1984. Good book. Kinda wish I never had. Everything will be explained within those pages. And A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.”
“I really don’t read that much.”
“What?! How can you not read books when you want to be a writer? That’s ignorantly pointless. Read, kid. Read everything.”
“Well, I want to be a journalist…not really write novels. No one really reads books anymore.”
My heart sank. In a way, he was right. The only thing people read nowadays are tweets, and Facebook posts. If it is more than 250 characters, it is too long. I felt like a useless dinosaur.
We finished our cigarette and returned to the bar. The afternoon turned into evening as the college group remained and drank. I sat staring at the silent television screen nursing one beer after another. My eyes relentlessly bombarded by one media atrocity via news cast ticker tape and subtitles after another.
I turned to the snap back kid next to me, “Hey…what did you say your name was again?”
His eyes were slightly crimson and he smiled, “Johnathan.”
“Johnathan,” I said pointing toward the screen. “Is that what you want to write? News journalism?”
“Hell yeah!” He stated, breathing stale beer across the counter, “Working for a big media company! That would be sweet!”
I gave him a sincere glance, “Just make it count, man…make a difference. Use your common sense and none of this fake news shit.”
“Ha! Fuck that! They pay good, I’ll write whatever they want me to write!”
I am a dinosaur. Extinct. I glanced at the red head who found a tall, lanky Latino to cling onto. She was right. We are doomed. This is our future in front of me. We are the dead, Winston.
Eventually, with my drink, I found myself up on the roof patio smoking on a cigarette and feeling melancholy. There was no one up there and it felt good to be alone. I glanced toward the navy sky. Born too late to explore the world, too early to travel to the stars.
Suddenly the door swung open and Johnathan, with drink in hand, stumbled out. He was obviously inebriated. “Hey, man, can I bum another smoke off you?”
I handed him a cigarette. He stumbled and stepped across the alley. “Shit. Think I drank enough.”
“You can never have enough.”
Johnathan flopped onto a large concrete seat. I leaned against the roofs guard wall adjacent to him.
“Hey,” He slurred. “If I was to move to Tijuana, what advice can you give me?”
I took a puff of my smoke and said, “Well, assimilate the culture the best you can, learn the language, and never refuse a blow job.”
He nervously laughed, “Never refuse a blow job?”
“Indeed. The best outcome of never refusing a blow job is…well, you’ll always get a blow job.”
“Damn. Wish I had some bitch here now to suck me off.” His hand nonchalantly slid across his crotch. “Wonder if I can get Megan to do it.”
“Megan? The red head?”
“Oh, I think that Latino guy’s plowing that field tonight. What about the other girl?”
“I think she’s a lesbian…or she got the hots for David.” He sipped his drink. “Well, I’m shit out of luck either way.”
My shadow slowly and nefariously creeped over his prone form, obscuring all light. He glanced up and saw nothing but the pinpoints of my eyes staring down at him from under the obsidian shade of the brim of my grey straw cubavera hat. Eyes both predatory and dead. Long ghostly fingers trailed out and stroked his flaccid crotch. He vehemently pushed the dead cold hand from his rapidly stiffening organ.
“Hey, man…fuck off! I’m not no faggot.”
“I never assumed you were. However, that dick is solid as stone. It’s had gay trists before…”
“Well, yeah…once I was drunk and this faggot sucked it and…”
Those ghostly fingers slid across the protruding member in his jeans again, the erection leapt up to great the advancing degeneracy. He remained immobile and stoic as the concrete he sat upon.
“And now your cock wants it again. Stand up.”
He slowly stood as I traded places with him on the concrete seat. He stood in front of me as I unzipped his jeans and pulled out a short, thick and circumcised erection. His pubic hair had been buzzed short. As the cars one story below passed with the sound of soft breathing, the jukebox in the bar mutely thumped out a rhythm, my moist lips clamped around his shaft, my tongue rapidly and mechanically slid up and down the rigid flesh of the intoxicated boy. Within a few short minutes, Johnathan began breathing heavily through his nostrils as he arched up onto his tip-toes and unleashed gobs of semen down my gullet.
Silently, he replaced his glistening erection back in his pants and mumbled something to the matter of returning to his friends. I remained up on the roof. Alone and pensive as gargoyle statuary. I smoked another cigarette and finished my drink. Below in the streets, Johnathan and his group exited the bar in good spirits – a cacophony of laughter and cheer as they made their way to the train and back to the relative safety of the university dorms.