Joey Cardona takes two steps down off the sidewalk, opens the door into the dimly lit Barlow’s Beer Stop. He steps inside, pauses, and takes a deep breath savoring the fragrance of stale beer, burnt pizza, along with several other disgusting odors. The only other person in Barlow’s at 10:30 in the morning is Skinny. Skinny’s the bartender and he’s not so skinny. Three months ago, Skinny did the stomach stapling thing. At the time, he weighed three-hundred-ten pounds. Now, he’s a svelte two-hundred-ninety pounds, which is not so skinny.
“Yo, Skinny, you got two cold bottles of Bud?” hollers Joey from the doorway.
Skinny looks away from the TV and rotates toward the door, “We’re not open til 11, Joey.”
“Come on, man. The door is open. That means you got to be open, because if you was closed, the door would be closed. See where I’m going?”
Skinny thinks, yah, you’re going straight over the cliff and you don’t even know it. He says, “I can’t sell you anything because of the laws, but you can come in. You look like hell. You needs a haircut and if that’s a grunge, it don’t look too good neither.”
“Man, I need a beer, Skinny. I can’t help it, Skinny. I thought Sunny was the one and then she tosses me out for no good reason. The last two weeks been like a hangover that won’t go away. Know what I mean? Anyway, Nate is going to meet me any minute. One of the bottles is for him.
“Whatever. I told you, she wasn’t your type.”
“She got this way of messing with my brain that makes me not know what I’m doing.”
“I’ll slide em down. Whistle when you’re ready.”
“I shoulda listened to ya when you warned me about Sunny, Skinny,” says Joey whistling and sticking his hand on the bar, palm facing Skinny at the other end of the bar.
Skinnyslides a bottle down the length of the bar watching slide softly into Joey’s open hand. The second bottle comes in with a rough landing but Joey’s left hand saves it from tipping over. A tad of beer splashes on the bar.
Joey hollers, “Thanks, Skinny. I got it.” Joey stands up, pulls up his stained maybe white, maybe grey t-shirt, sticks his hand inside his t-shirt, bends over and wipes the spill with his t-shirt.
“Tanks, Joey. Like I said, I can’t take no money for the beers. Consider them on the house,” says Skinny
“I owe ya, Skinny,” Joey gives Skinny the bartender a thumbs up and carries his beers to a booth as far back as the next county, sets the beers down, and slides into the booth. He takes a long swing from one of the bottles, closes his eyes, and enjoys the rush of cold beer traveling toward his stomach. Joey opens his eyes thinking a cold beer is one of the best things in life. He wipes his lips on his bare arm, burps, and stares at a poster of a topless woman on the wall behind Skinny. The topless woman starts Joey’s brain to reminiscing about how he got himself caught up with Sunny and how she ruined his life.