Bill sits at his old seat in the bar. He got it back tonight by showing up early. Mutt is lying under the chair, snoozing it up.
Officially Mutt is not supposed to be in the bar at all (those damn hygiene regulations or some such) but since Bill is a regular, almost as old as the beams holding up the roof, Lance lets him bring Mutt in in the evenings, although he warned Bill that if he hears that any city guys are coming in, Mutt will need to temporarily make himself scarce.
Bill has his usual tall Miller Light in front of him. He is watching Fox News, as ever. Tucker is on a roll, yelling about those ungrateful sons of bitches in Tokyo, who won’t salute the flag properly. Damn it, why did they select them in the first place? Lance used to call that soccer player woman with the pink hair Megan Rap Music. Bill liked that, he understands the joke, making her out to be black when she is very white. And bent as a three-dollar bill, haha.
He takes another gulp of Miller. Things are different here. Since Randy disappeared, it hasn’t been quite as friendly. They have a new barman, Dave. Randy hasn’t worked out where Dave is coming from, but the signs are not good. Why, the other day Bill walked in (well, it was a bad day, he limped in on his cane) and the damn TV was showing CNN. What is this shit? Where was the American television station? A quick word to Lance, and Fox was back. But Bill suspects that Dave, who is a lot younger than Randy, is not One Of Us. His suspicions were aroused the other day when a video of Biden came up on Fox, and Bill growled “not for long”. Dave asked “what does that mean?”
“Trump will be back there soon, you’ll see” said Bill.
“How is he going to get back there?” asked Dave.
Bill said nothing, but he seethed. Of course Trump will be back. Those Democrat swamp-dwellers couldn’t find their ass in broad daylight with a flashlight and a map. They are already kow-towing to China. Yes Mr Chink, No Mr. Chink, three bags full and you can have Taiwan Mr Chink. Time for paybacks. Impeach the sonofabitch and Kamala the Ho. Everybody knows the election was rigged. Look at the pillow guy’s lawsuits. They’re going to get that shit overturned any day now.
Tucker goes to commercial. Bill takes another gulp and looks around the bar. It’s different these days.
Bill’s buddies are not here very much any more. This damn virus has made many of them shy of going out. What the hell is happening? Two years ago there were no seats along this side of the bar. Now half the seats are never filled except on Friday and Saturday nights.
But the biggest news, which is really sticking in Bill’s craw, is the rumor that Lance is going to request proof of vaccination to allow anybody in the bar starting…Real Soon. Dave said the date is not fixed, but Bill heard it from Old Joe, who said that he is going to stop coming in if it happens. Old Joe seems to only be here about half the time these days.
Old Joe doesn’t care for any of those damn rules, especially if they come from the government. That might have something to do with his run-in with the IRS and the courts over child support a few years ago. Since then, the mention of the word “government” usually has Old Joe growling, and drinking even faster. And that guy can drink.
If the silly vaccination rule is for real, maybe he and Old Joe can find a different bar, where they don’t have to have that damn vaccine and muzzle up just to get in the front door. Besides, is Lance going to make Mutt muzzle up as well? Bill is hoping that the governor will do what the Texas guy did and prohibit cities and businesses from imposing mask mandates and requiring proof of vaccination.
Of course, what Bill won’t admit to is that his real problem is that little needle. Ever since knee high Bill has been terrified of hypodermics. When you are 4 years old, even a small one looks like it is half the size of your forearm, and when it is being waved in the air by a massively tall human authority figure, it is…scary. Bill remembers getting a tetanus shot. It hurt like hell, and his arm was stiff and sore for days. No thank you. No more of that inoculation shit. Plus, he keeps hearing that it gives you flu symptoms for up to 2 days. That’s ridiculous. You should go to the doc to get cured, not catch something.
Bill looks at his glass. Most of the Miller is gone, but he has to be careful. He asked Dave for a sub 2 nights ago, because he was out of cash, but Dave appeared to not understand him initially. When Bill explained the arrangement that he had with Randy, Dave smiled. Then, without saying anything, he went to the middle of the bar, and moved Lance’s sign that says “Even God Pays Ca$h Here” up one shelf to the middle shelf, and angled it towards Bill. Then he went off to serve somebody else. Bill got the message.
Bill wondered about asking Lance. Hell, he is part of the furniture here. And when he tries to move his knee and his back, it sure feels like it. These days both of those parts of his body feel like creaking timber. But Bill knows that the arrangement was strictly between him and Randy. He doesn’t want that conversation.
Mutt stirs, and makes a bored dog sound, and scratches his body with a back leg. Then he puts his head down and goes back to doggy dreaming.
Bill sits alone with his thoughts. His knee is really painful tonight, and the beer isn’t enough to even dull the pain. Bill knows he needs a knee replacement. The doc told him 3 years ago. But he fears even going into the hospital might be the last thing that happens to him. Kevin, the brewery distribution guy, went into hospital in the next city last year after complaining of stomach pains for weeks, and within a month he was dead. He never left the hospital. Cancer. That’s what happens when you go in there. Sometimes you never make it out.
Bill knows his son and daughter-in-law want him to get both his knee and back fixed. His daughter-in-law even offered to come down from New York and help him with his recovery. Bill nixed that idea pretty damn quick. A city woman driving him around? Hell no. The embarrassment. Besides, she couldn’t handle the truck. It does pull to the left a lot under braking these days. You gotta be a man to keep that damn thing straight. Bill’s buddy Aaron says steering arm is bent and the brakes need a rebuild, but that costs money, which Bill doesn’t have.
Bill drains his glass. He looks up. Fox is on weather. Nice girl. Dave is talking to a new couple, who look younger than the normal age range. He hopes Dave is not pulling in Democrats. The horror.
He straightens himself on the chair, his back speaks and not in a good way. These days, getting down is more painful than getting up on this chair.
Everything seems to be going to Hell in a handbasket. The guy who could have sorted everything out is gone, replaced by those damn business-as-usual sharks, the virus won’t go away, and now the bar is changing around him.
Bill fumbles in his pocket for his car keys. Mutt hears, and gets up off the floor.