Turn It Up

Meet Sheila, the friendly bartender at Henny's. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Meet Sheila, the friendly bartender at Henny’s. (Monte Dutton sketch)

                This short story about changing times in a man’s life began with “The Feeling Bottoms Out.” The second episode was “The Mercy Killing.” Here’s the third.

Clyde Barns was no regular at Henny’s Farm and Tractor, which was a sports bar occupying what once had been a Massey Ferguson dealership. For twenty years, most of Clyde’s watering holes had been on the road. Away from the road, the stadium, the park, he mainly paid bills, mowed the lawn, and washed clothes. Losing a wife had left him with many duties he’d once taken for granted. It cut in on his drinking, which had been one of the reasons he’d gotten divorced in the first place.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

He was going to have a lot more free time now. He might as well get used to it.

“Well, if this ain’t an honor,” Sheila Timlin said. “How the hell you been, Clyde?”

“I’ve been better, honey, but just seeing you makes me think this day might just turn around yet. Drain me a draft.”

“What’s your pleasure?”

“Pick me one out, Sheila. Something that’ll taste better as it goes along.”

“They all that way,” she said.

Sheila apparently didn’t know about the job killing going on at The Morning Messenger. Clyde was glad there was somebody. He didn’t want to talk about it. The confiscation of his iPhone was functional. No one knew how to get hold of him. He’d have to get himself a new one, but it could wait for a while.

They were practically alone. Henny’s didn’t do much of a lunchtime business anymore. Sheila was right good to look at. They were buddies because Clyde hadn’t ever had the time to take it any further. She was a honky tonk angel, tough enough to take care of herself but sweet beneath the surface. He was liable to conclude that he loved her at some point. This was a day Clyde could use some love.

Sheila brought him a dark beer and a dozen wings.

“On the house,” she said when she sat the wings in front of him.

“Nah, it ain’t,” he said, folding a ten and handing it to her. “It just gives me a chance to give you some pure profit. Start me a tab on the beer. Henny around?”

“Nah. He left ‘bout an hour ago. He’s here ‘bout long enough to count his money. I doubt he’ll be back in ‘fore tomorry. Takes a decent crowd to get him to put on a show. He don’t turn on the charm for less than a couple dozen.”

“Him and the band still playing gigs?”

“Nah, not in a while. They all come in here on weekends and do an opening set when we got live music from outside. He’s right good at warming up a crowd.”

“Any reason I can’t buy you a beer?”

“I ain’t supposed to do it.”

“C’mon. When you get off?”

“Four o’clock.”

“Get drunk with me, Sheila. I need some company. Just have a couple ‘tween now and then. Get you in the mood. Hell, it’s Friday night.”

“It’s Tuesday, Clyde.”

“I go write about ballgames on real Fridays, hon. My weekends are generally Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.”

“How about basketball games?”

“Fuck a basketball game,” Clyde said.

                If you’d like to read my non-fiction observations, check out montedutton.com on a fairly regular basis. If you like my fiction, no telling how much you’ll enjoy my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, and, for your convenience, you can buy them and some other books of mine here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1415634579&sr=1-1

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