The bar was getting crowded. Boisterous, tipsy, some of them sloshed, none of the customers at The Eagle looked exactly happy to Paul, but maybe it was his mood. He’d had it up to here with national news. “Let’s talk about something, anything, besides his latest fucking tweets tonight,” he said to Kristina. They sat in near silence while he swirled his ice cubes and contemplated ordering another Scotch. He’d been eavesdropping on the couple at the table behind them, whose mild disagreement about their vacation plans was escalating, and some guys standing near their table, who kept clapping each other on the back and guffawing. “She could suck a golf ball out of a garden hose.” Did guys really still talk like that? He wondered whether Kristina had heard too, and whether she’d mention it later. Hard to overlook such a crass remark, even though he hadn’t made it. He felt complicit, a male in proximity with other males who showed one face to females, another among their own.
“Want to grab a bite somewhere,” he asked, “or get some takeout for your place?” Kristina didn’t like his place. She found it stark, which it was—black leather couches, tan shag rug, only one picture on the wall, a framed Diebenkorn poster from an exhibit he’d gone to. One of his abstracts. He liked simplicity, but she preferred excess, the kind of couch where you had to throw eight Moroccan and Mexican pillows on the floor before you could sit down.
“Costa Rica, you’re always talking about Costa Rica. I’d like to do more than lie on the beach for a change.”
“Tits like bowling balls, I’m not shitting you.” The guy facing their table raised his free hand below his chest and jiggled it like he was holding a heavy bowling ball.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” the golf ball in the hose guy said. Paul wondered whether balls were the running subtext. Which guy had more balls.
“Okay, so we sightsee. We come home more exhausted than we were when we left.”
“There’s a new season of House of Cards on Netflix,” Kristina said. We could do takeout Thai.” She didn’t seem to have overheard the tits man. Paul was an ass man, not that he would describe himself that way.
“It’s not like there’s nothing to see in Costa Rica. There are real people who live there, with real lives.”
“You should see her in a bikini. A wet dream come true, I’m telling you.”
“Oh great. So we’re not going to the beach. We’re going to get all political. Remember when vacations were fun? Let’s get away from politics this year.”
“Or maybe a comedy instead? I don’t know if I can take more government corruption right now.” Paul nodded in morose agreement.
“She said she wouldn’t fuck me if I voted for that pussy-grabbing asshole. I should have listened. Man, was she ever right.”
“She still putting out?”
“Yeah, but I got to listen to a recap of the news every night. Enough to make you puke.”
“I was thinking about The Manchurian Candidate—remember Sam and Carey said we should watch that?— but that’s not a comedy either.”
“You’re right. It will be nice just to get out of the country for a couple of weeks. Stay off the Internet.”
“Does it have a happy ending?”
“I think so, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve never seen it.”
Paul left a twenty and a five under his glass on the table. As he and Kristina got up to leave, the golf ball in a hose guy was saying, “Fuck, I’ll drink to that. Impeach the son of a bitch.” “Liar-in-Chief,” his buddy added. “Lock him up.” “Yeah.” The group of guys held up their beer bottles in a toast, then parted to let them through. The couple at the neighboring table raised their glasses and clinked them together. Paul put his arm around Kristina, his mood lifting. The bar patrons were getting noisier, and happier. “Thai at your place sounds good,” he said. For a moment, in the warm afterglow of the Scotch, Paul loved everyone at The Eagle, even the jerks.
Jacqueline Doyle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has flash in Monkeybicycle, The Pinch, The Café Irreal, Threadcount, Quarter After Eight, [PANK], CHEAP POP, matchbook, and Wigleaf. Her new flash fiction chapbook The Missing Girl is available from Black Lawrence Press. twitter: @doylejacq. website: jacquelinedoyle.com.
Image: Serge Esteve