Bill down at the bar

Bill is bored, tired and puzzled

Bill pulls the ring off another Miller Lite and pours it into his sole remaining beer glass.

Next to him, mutt stirs, looks at him with one eye open, then settles back down again.

Bill is bored. He also weights 15 pounds more than he did 2 months ago. He is pissed off because the baseball season is not starting, so he cannot watch the Pirates. His parents were born in Pittsburgh, and family loyalty, you know how that is.

Bill is also fed up, because the bar is closed. Those damn social distancing rules. Who the hell does that stupid damn governor think he is anyway? Screwing over honest working people like himself to allow all of those suburban folk to behave like scared wimps. Did the United States win World War I and World War II after helping all of those wimp countries, so that those people can cower in their expensive houses?

Bill takes a big gulp of his beer. As he does so, his back speaks to him once more, and not in a good way. Bill was told over a year ago that he had herniated disks in his lumbar spine once again. Haha, your spine is made of wood now, said barman Dave. More like a set of carving knives, said Bill. Some days getting up from this sofa is a struggle. This is one of those days.

Bill spoke to his son last month. It was an odd conversation. His son and his daughter in law are hiding out in New York, unable to go out because of the damn virus. Bill doesn’t understand all of those big city folk. New York was supposed to be all brave and resilient (that’s the word that barman Dave uses when he is being snarky about somebody for being a wimp). Now they are all either hiding indoors or supposedly dying like flies.

Something does not add up. This is not America. This country is supposed to be great. Those New Yorkers are clearly wimps. Tucker said so. Bill remembers that his son was not pleased when he told him he intended to go shopping without a mask. Something about him catching Coronavirus, or as barman Dave calls it, Chinese Flu. Dave thinks it is an invention of the Democrats working with the Chinese, and Bill agrees. It was the usual conversation with his son, who seems to have gone totally liberal.

Bill idly flips to another news channel. More guff about Covid this Covid that. Everybody seems scared of this. He rang barman Dave the other day to ask when the bar was re-opening, and was amazed when Dave said “possibly never”. Apparently the owner is out of state, because his mother is in the hospital with Covid.

Bill wants to be in the bar now, instead of here. This is no fun. At the bar he can shoot the breeze, talk with Dave, who seems to be able to sum up the people who are not patriots with a single word or short sentence. Bill thinks Dave should run for political office. We need more plain-talking folks like Dave and Donald Trump.

Bill doesn’t understand what has happened to Donald. He does seem to be talking in circles a lot these days. But those silly women asking him damn-fool questions. Why don’t those bitches just shut the fuck up and go visit a kitchen, or something. Donald is clearly upset by the Chinese Flu. He is showing he cares about us. They should give him a break and back off. Sheesh.

Bill moves to get up to go get another beer. His knee says “Hello Bill, I am still here and I think you need to know that”. Bill curses under his breath as his knee objects to the walk. This damn body is falling to pieces. Some days he can barely move. He hobbles to the kitchen with mutt following. Bill looks down at mutt. Mutt is everything a dog should be. Faithful, obedient, knows his place, and barks up a storm whenever strangers approach the house. Mutt looks out for others. What happened to that? All Bill was hearing at the bar before it closed was the story about the developers now building townhouses on the site of the furniture factory. Great. More of those damn yuppies with their Priuses and cats. Goddam it. Cats. Horrible creatures. You can’t get them to do anything. Use ’em for target practice. That’s what Bill and his buddies used to do in high school.

Bill opens the fridge door. Hmm. Not much there apart from the beer. He will have to go shop tomorrow. The only good thing is that he was able to put gas in the car for almost no money last week. The bad thing is that everybody in the supermarket will look like they are about to go rob a bank. Those damn masks.

Bill takes another can of Miller and walks back into the living room. Just in time. Sean is on talking about disloyal Democrats. Geez, those guys are scum. Still taking their orders from that bitch Hillary and Hussein Obama. It is time for a clear-out. They released a lot of prisoners from jails. Time to put the real criminals away.

Bill’s son was talking about how they cannot visit Europe this year. Based on what he is seeing, who would want to visit Europe anyway. Bill does not understand why people want to leave the United States. The rest of the world definitely is a shithole. Especially China. Those guys are trying to screw us over. Cheap goods, now this damn virus. Donald should just nuke them. Time for a clean-out.

Bill tries to get comfortable on the sofa, but his back keeps talking to him. Mutt curls up next to him.

Bill puts his hand on mutt’s back. Warm, soft, fluffy. Bill remembers the time when life was good, when the furniture factory paid good money, before he wrecked his back, when his wife was still being nice to him. What happened to all of that?

He takes another big gulp.

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Bill is getting ready for Superbowl

Bill hobbles slowly from the kitchen into the living room of his small house. His dog is sprawled, oblivious, on the carpet in front of the television.
Bill looks down at the dog. Damn it, he thinks, I wish I could be my dog. He doesn’t seem to have a dicky back and a creaking knee.
Bill went to see the doctor last week, after months of being nagged by his favorite bar worker Dennis. It cost him money – real money, and resulted in the doctor muttering a string of three letter acronyms, stuff like “ACL”, “PCL”.
Bill hates those medical professionals. They talk all big words and mumbo-jumbo, like they are educated or something. Maybe they’re in practice to become politicians. Whatever. Apparently Bill’s knee is about to fall apart, and he needs surgery. But Bill is not going to get surgery any time soon. After what happened with his back, Bill wants to stay away from those damn doctors for a while. In the meantime, he hobbles.
Bill has a few bar friends coming over for Superbowl. They are all mostly going to be cheering for the Eagles. Hell, why would you want the Patriots to win? With pretty-boy Brady under center, and that scowling guy Belichick running the show from the sideline?
But Bill, being cranky Bill, went out to the store and bought Patriots paper plates and cups. He wants to see the guys’ reaction. Plus, although he doesn’t care for the Patriots, the are Winners. And Bill respects winners. “Winners not whiners”, that was what his buddy Mark used to say at the factory all of those years ago, when they watched sports together.
Bill sometimes wonders how Mark is doing since the factory closed and he lost touch with him. Mark moved to California (of all places) to find work. California! Bill remembers joshing Mark at the bar when he admitted he was moving to the People’s Republic. Bill just hopes that Mark was not indoctrinated by all of those gay-loving Marxists in places like San Francisco. Mark’s daughter was the one that talked him into the move, and you know how devious women and girlfriends can be.
At one time, Bill’s wife would cook all manner of food for Superbowl, and they would even have the wives over. But since Bill’s divorce, he tells his male buddies to “just bring what you want to eat”. Mostly, they just drink and heckle the players, or discuss the female sideline reporters.
Bill still does not know why they have women on the sideline. This is a man’s sport, dammit. Let men be men, that’s what Bill says. All of this equality shit grates on him. If God had intended for women to be equal with men, he wouldn’t have given them tits and a pussy, har har.
Bill told the guys at the bar last night that this will probably be his last Superbowl. The NFL seems to have become a sissy league, with all of those silly rules about catches, pass interference, helmet-to-helmet…what is this shit? In Bill’s high school days, if you had your bell rung, they gave you smelling salts, and you put on the helmet and went out there and got stuck in again. None of this “how many fingers do you see? What is your name?” bullshit from those damn medical guys while the game went on. And then there are all of those guys kneeling for the anthem. How dare they. In my day, Bill would have jumped in the air to salute for the anthem. The NFL needs to clear all of those ungrateful sons of bitches out of the place. Like Donald said. Damn it, why won’t those whiny-ass fake news people shut the fuck up and let Donald take charge? He knows what is needed.
Bill glances across at the picture on the wall behind the sofa. The one that shows a mythical NFL player, like John Wayne, bursting into the end zone, as light shines, seemingly from above. Nice picture. Real Man conquers the world. Bill skates past the rest of the story in his mind. The part where he bought the picture the week after Superbowl, and hung it on the wall to cover a hole in the sheetrock. The hole made where he heaved a wine bottle through the wall after his favorite NFL team lost in overtime to exit the playoffs.
Bill spoke to his son for the first time in months the other day. His son lives in New York with his girlfriend, and they are getting married next year. Bill doesn’t know if he will be invited to the wedding. When he told her to shut up and fuck off back to New York two Thanksgivings ago, after he realized that she was one of those East Coast limousine liberals that Rush talks about, his son didn’t speak to him for a year.
But it matter not matter any way. Bill doesn’t know for sure if he will even be able to walk by that time, at the rate that his knee is going, he will probably be in a wheelchair by then.
Bill sits down gingerly on the sofa, and the dog comes over and puts its head on his leg. Bill looks down at the dog, and suddenly feels sad. Why can’t everybody be like the dog? You know, eager to get along?

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Bill down at the bar

In most small towns all over the world, there are one or more bars. (“Cheers” was an idealized version of the local city bar, with characters built up for television).
Every bar has one or more characters. I’ll call our guy Bill.
We all know Bill. He is there most nights, often on the same seat or stool. He buys a string of beers, smokes a lot, watches the TVs, and talks to anybody who sits next to him or claps him on the back.
Bill grew up in a classic atomic family. Small house with a front and back yard, one sibling, US flagpole in the front, nice manicured lawn, occasional road vacations.
Bill’s Dad was a Big Strong Man. He had been drafted and served in Vietnam. Then he left the army, and got a factory job. Dad was always outgoing, until it came to talking about Vietnam, then he would clam up, and a troubled look would come over his face. The family learned to tip-toe around that war. They also learned to stay away from him when he yelled at Bill’s mom, which seemed to happen a lot.
Bill’s Dad was a big strong man. Until one day, when he fell down on the stairs, and Bill heard his mother screaming. The ambulance arrived, then the EMTs. But, the looks on their faces told the story. Dad, Big Strong Man, invulnerable, manly, The Rock, was gone. A blood vessel deep in his brain had burst, and that was that.
Bill’s mom was a quiet woman. Bill would see her occasionally weeping in the living room, but Mom never said anything about his Dad, other than “he has demons”. Then she too would clam up. After his Dad died, his mother would sit alone for hours, staring into nowhere. Bill wondered what went on in her head, but he and his sister soon learned that asking questions was a waste of time.
Bill left high school at 18, bored with the education system. Bill wasn’t good enough at sports to be a jock and Get The Girls. He also wasn’t good enough at studying to go on to college. Not that his parents could have afforded the tuition anyway, after his Dad died. Besides, universities when Bill was growing up were infested with Communists and pansies. Well, that was what Bill’s dad always said.
So Bill went to work, with several other high school buddies, in the local factory. The job was boring, but the wages were good for the area, and the factory had been there for several decades. Bill worked his way up to a lead role in assembly, and thought he was doing OK. He got married to a girl he met at a local restaurant, and started a family. Life, it seemed, was good.
Then the factory suddenly closed. BOOM. No warning. “Moving production to Mexico” was the terse summary. There was no union to protect the workers. Bill lost his nicely paid job, his work buddies, and his sense of belonging. He began bouncing from short term job to short term job. Then he worked on a construction project one week to make some extra money, and suffered a bad back injury. He spent months in rehab, but his back will never be the same again. He cannot get out of bed without a struggle, and some days standing is too painful for more than a few minutes.
So Bill is now on permanent disability. He became a growling, rage-infested asshole, addicted to painkillers for months, so his wife left him and took the children. Bill ended up going to rehab for a second time, this time to learn how to not pop pain pills like sweeties. After a struggle, he managed to kick the pills.
Now Bill lives alone in his little house, with only his dog for company. He collects his disability check twice a month. He occasionally looks for work, but after 3 years of unemployment, and with a back that rarely allows him to stand comfortably for more than 15 minutes at a time, Bill, according to the government, does not even exist as a member of the unemployed. He has officially been declared a Person Of No Interest as far as employment statistics are concerned.
So Bill sits, sometimes uncomfortably, drinks his beer, and talks.
And Bill has opinions.
Oh yes. He has opinions.
Lot of opinions.
Bill opines about Everything.
Sports (he is sure to always let us know which team he hates this time around in the game on television, and why).
Families. Bill always has a good word for his local relatives, and not many good words for his distant relatives, who are distant because they are Not Like Him. (The idea that they might be distant because they moved to get away from his incessantly judgmental ratchet-jawing is something that most probably never occurred to Bill). As for his ex, well, let’s not go there.
Bill reveres the flag, the anthem and the pledge of allegiance. His Dad flew the flag in their little front yard every chance he got. To him, the flag and the Pledge of Alliegance are an integral, deeply emotional part of being American. He thinks that anybody who doesn’t share that opinion must have something wrong with them. Or they must be one of them furriners. Bill doesn’t trust furriners.
Politics.
Ah yes, politics.
Bill has a lot of opinions about politics.
Of course, Bill hates nearly all politicians. They look to him like a cross between smarmy used-car salesmen and game show hosts. They have suits. They talk in long sentences with way too many of those 100 dollar words. They always seem to be in somebody else’s pockets. And the “somebody else” is sure as hell not Good Honest Folks like him. When the factory closed, after Bill and his buddies, working on a short-term deal, had to dismantle the machinery and pack it into crates so it could be shipped down to Mexico so some damn foreigners could use Their Machinery, the land was soon sold to a property company that seemed to have a connection with the local mayor. Suddenly the land became zoned residential, and lots of new housing was built. Bill will tell anybody that listens to him that the Mayor was a crook in league with the developers, screwing over Regular Folks. As usual.
Politicians always like to act Smart. Bill doesn’t care for Smart. To him, smart people are inherently untrustworthy, the sort of people who you shake hands with, then immediately check your pockets to see if you still have all of your possessions.
Bill holds his nose every time he goes to the voting booth. Sometimes Bill doesn’t even vote, he hates the sons-of-bitches so much. Of course, Bill won’t admit that he doesn’t vote, he wants to make it clear that he understands the meaning of the phrase “civic duty”. Oh Yes Sirree.
Bill was going to sit out the 2016 election. He sure as hell wasn’t going to vote for That Bitch Hillary. Why, didn’t she and Bill arrange for all of those people to disappear and die? It must be true, it was all over the internet. And those damn emails…
Then there was that Bernie guy, colonel Sanders or whatever. The old Jewish guy from one of those librul states. All he did was waffle about universal healthcare. He sounded like he wanted to give Bill’s money to those moochers and takers. Bill was damned if he was going to see the gover…er, his hard earned money being given away to Folks Who Didn’t Deserve It.
…but Bill wasn’t going to vote for the Republicans either. For a start, there were dozens of them, and they all wore those damn suits. And they talked all of those sentences with them high-falutin’ words. Same Ole Same Ole.
Then along came Donald Trump.
Wow.
Bill loved him some Donald Trump.
Here was a man who Told It Like It Is. Bill hates people who beat about the bush. If you think something is Bad, say it for gawds sakes. Don’t be a pussy. None of this wimpy “I think you are mistaken” bullshit.
Donald did it right in those debates. “WRONG!” That’s what you tell those assholes! That Bitch Hillary is clearly completely Wrong. And those librul journalists had it coming too.
Donald was a real businessman. All of those casinos, hotels and golf courses. And that gold in his penthouse. Why, he is clearly Successful, not like those other politicians who talk smart and then get found with their hands in the till because they can’t make their own money, only live off OUR money. The only till Donald has his hands in is his own till, and by golly he has lots of money!
Yessir, Donald is the man, says Bill. He will stop all of this lily-livered nonsense about “rights” and “diversity”. Bill knows that “diversity” is just Smart people-speak for “let more of those brown folks in”. Why should all of those freeloading wetbacks get to stay here anyway?
Yeah! The Wall! Bill worked in construction for a while, and he knows a thing or two. If China could build that great wall umpteen thousand miles long without even having concrete mixers, hell, We Can Build The Wall twice as high.
As for the rest of the world…pffft. Bill knows what goes on in the rest of the world. It shows up every night on the TV. It’s a scary place, full of socialists, communists, furriners, brown people and more of those whiny-ass titty-babies who hug trees and love the Spotted Owl or some such, and who hate the military. Rush told him. Then they beg and plead for America to bail their sorry little asses out all over again. Pfftt!
And Muslims. Billions of Muslims. Why, they are probably swimming the Rio Grande even as Bill speaks again. They have to be. After all, doesn’t everybody want to come to America?
Bill’s pal Donald is going to sort out the rest of the world. We have dozens of aircraft carriers, and all of those F-35s or whatever number they gave the planes flown by Tom Cruise and his buddies. Now, those military guys – those are Real Men, doing Brave Stuff. Vanquishing all enemies, foreign and domestic. Or something like that. Donald, he respects those military guys.
Donald wants America to be Great. No more of this “yessir nosir” crap from our President. What a wimp that Obama guy was. Always bowing and scraping. Didn’t he know We Are America? You know, that nation that bailed out everybody else’s sorry ass in umpteen wars? Why aren’t these people grateful, instead of behaving like a bunch of whiny pissants? Look at the United Nations. A bunch of people, either wearing those con-man suits or dressed in dishrags, complaining about America. Donald will tell them where to go screw themselves. Probably they screw camels anyway, haha.
Hey, want another beer?
You see, Bill loves Donald Trump because Donald Trump, as far as Bill can see, is Bill.
Or he is what Bill would love to be.
Bill would love to go sit in that fancy Oval office, his feet up on the table, telling it like it is. He would love to phone up some little shitface dictator and yell down the phone “listen, cocksucker! You release our ambassador in 12 hours or I will order in the cruise missiles. Now do the right thing, fuckface!” Then Bill puts down the phone, high-fives the military, and picks up the phone again to accept congratulations from that other pissant dictator. Yessir, THAT guy knows his place. Bill just has to make sure that he keeps toeing the line. And if he doesn’t, well, we have a carrier group nearby…
All of those people whining about Donald Trump’s twitter or whatever? Well, lordy lordy, it’s all of those swamp people, the coastal elites, and those prissy liberals with their fancy talk and whining about “equality”. Those little rats are pissing and crying because Donald is rooting them out, ending their silly games, their plotting, their corrupt dealings, their elitist hob-nobbing. Screw the lot of them.
Yessir, Donald is Getting Stuff Done. Those ungrateful NFL players sure got put in their place last weekend. How dare they disrespect the flag like that. WE made them millionaires and this is their idea of gratitude? Tell it like it is Mr President. None of this political correctness bullshit. Donald’s a real man. He doesn’t stand for nonsense. Men need to be men. Keep up the good work.
Bill looks around. The bar is almost empty. Those guys who were sitting with him, they went home to their families hours ago. Not many young people come in here these days. They all went to the city, like Bill’s son, who went to one of the cities, and now comes back once a year for Thanksgiving.
Or at least he used to come back once a year for Thanksgiving.
Bill loves his son, but wishes he wasn’t living with that silly girlfriend who told him over dinner last Thanksgiving that he was a misog…or something that didn’t sound very nice. Bill soon told her where to go. Oh yessir. Now they won’t be back for this year’s Thanksgiving. His son told him they are going skiing in Canada.
Skiiing. Hah! Bill can’t even bend down to tie his shoelaces any more, so he wears slip-ons out of the house, and slippers in the house. No way would he be able to put on skis. Some days Bill wonders what happened to the years when he could lift anything above his head, including his kids. Now he can barely lift himself out of a chair.
Bill shuffles off his bar stool, pays his tab, and slowly heads out for home. He will park his car, gingerly ease himself out, shuffle indoors, turn on the TV, listen to His Man telling it like it is, and then laugh at the libruls whining on the chat shows. Sheesh, they’re such an ungrateful bunch of pussies. But Donald will sort them out. Time for them to toe the line and work to Make America Great Again.
And Bill, after wincing as he peels of his underwear, slides into bed. Another day is done.
In his mind, Bill is Donald, and Donald is Bill. Sorting out Shit. Draining the Swamp. Making America Great Again. Did I say MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN?
And Bill sinks into sleep, into the zone of certitude and vindication, where Right is Right, Wrong is Wrong, and everything is simple and sraighforward, and easy to square away. And where his back no longer hurts, his family is together and happy, and he still has a steady job.
If Bill ruled the world.
But then Bill would be Donald.
And Donald would be Bill.

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