One Night in Alpine

In Alpine, TX., 2015 Picture By Joel Lawrence

Trapped, with the simple joys stolen
from this life.

His eyes are soft, but weathered and beaten down, from exhausting days of working the rails and late night bar crawls.

I slap the cue ball hard against the colored ones, it lets out a fiery crack resounding off of the beautifully broken walls of the pool hall.

We play three rounds, each time his play gets worse, yet he makes no excuses.  He’s sincere enough to where you know he’s not a very capable liar.

By the third game, a dirty middle aged man sits down near our table with a pint glass of what I assume is cheap beer.

He’s fidgety and makes remarks about our style of play, mostly mine, but not in a negative way.

Danny, the railroad man, is getting sick of listening to what Lamont, the rock guy, is spouting off.

Danny excuses himself from the table,
anxious to make an exit for the door.
“What a nice guy,” I think to myself.

Now it’s just Lamont and I exchanging silly rhetoric to one another.  Although, his are more so due to him being pretty wasted.

He tells me he’s from Flagstaff, Az. and is neighbors’ with a skinhead that has the word “NAZI” tattooed on his forehead.

I think that’s terrible and tell him that’s unfortunate and that I’m glad I’m not him.

He then tells me about being a veteran, something I could easily pick up on just by his mannerisms and his directness, not as hygienically inclined as I would’ve imagined.

Thirty minutes go by and we eventually part ways, we wish each other well.

I exit the bar and enter another one a few blocks down the road.

I finish two glasses of the mystery Chardonnay the bartender gives me and sit huddled in a corner by the front window.

I overhear college students debrief each other with stories from their stay on campus.

Most of their stories I find to be very boring, but one where a girl slept with the whole floor of her co-ed dorm and was almost certain that she “didn’t enjoy the flower-banging,” I found very entertaining.

Despite the dulling normalcy of their responses, their enthusiasm and youthfulness is contagious, so I keep eavesdropping three tables away.

Only in a place so quiet does the world start to make sense again.

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