Thursday, February 18, 2010


 Shots of Hell
at the End of a Lonely Street
by Jason Henry McCormick

IT WAS ABOUT MIDNIGHT and I’d been nursing the same highball at the same barstool next to the same girl who’d been telling me the same story since ten o’clock. I had forgotten her name and almost wished I hadn’t asked because she, “Nice Teeth,” needed to tell someone, anyone everything about some guy named who-the-hell-cares who’d broken her heart the night before.

So Nice Teeth kept blabbing and hadn’t sipped her drink in over an hour and I kept nodding and somehow managed to keep feeding her what she wanted: acknowledgement, which came in the form of my repetitious rhetoric of “uh huh” and “yeah,” along with my chuckles after the “humorous” parts. It was as if I’d listened and paid attention the whole time.

She wasn’t funny but her agility made me nervous so I stayed on my toes and hadn‘t sipped my drink in a while either.

Although she spoke broken/sexy English her vocabulary was robust and included a plethora of big words that I’d probably read but never heard or even learned to pronounce, so to me they were as foreign as her accent that had a hint of Columbia or maybe Guatemala.

She drank Jack, and wore a dark-brown dress that complimented the whiskey-shade of her big brown eyes. Her skin tone was caramel and smelled like it, too. There were golden streaks in her long and straight brown hair, which for some reason made me think of graham crackers. Her teeth were large, straight, and very well maintained. Despite the two little holes in her ear, she wasn’t wearing any earrings at least not in her right ear, which was extremely tiny however still proportional to the size of her head. She had a petite nose, thin arms, small hands and a tattoo on her left breast that was partially visible and looked like something great, like the head of a cartoon character.

When she took a deep breath I told her my name and that I’m a lefty but sometimes, I shave righty. See, Nice Teeth wasn’t the only one who had a tale to tell.

I had a story, too.

Except my story would’ve been about GI Joes and maple syrup, or Barbie dolls and peanut butter, or anything besides a broken heart because “I got one of those too, baby,” I said, but only once, because only lucky fools and doomed chucks rush in. So I stuck it out.

The bar was dead and Sinatra played softly in the background, from the lobby of a rundown hotel at the end of a lonely street. I stumbled upon the place during a long walk long ago. I hadn‘t visited it since then nor planned on never coming back ever again.

A third patron, the only other guest in the joint, was an older guy with a bald head and a beard that looked like a shadow from five o’clock yesterday.

I’d seen him before, a few years back. It was as if he never left. 

He slouched from a stool at the other end of the bar and his head was low and dim like the lights. With his elbows on the rail, he leaned forward and tapped his wedding ring against a tumbler glass, which looked like about two shots of hell in it. Perhaps it was either Jagermeister or Oil. That dude seemed like the loneliest man on the face of the earth. I’m not even sure if a hug and a hooker could have helped him out.

Every now and then, the bartender, an older woman wearing a frown and a tank top, came by our side of the bar. In a scratchy voice, she would ask us if we needed anything before she went out for “another loosey.”

I still don’t know what that means. And each time she asked I replied the same way: “No. Go ahead.” And Nice Teeth just kept on talking.

As I’ve already basically mentioned, her story sucked, but here‘s the brief summary: she dated a guy who sucked even more, who had a bunch of money and a really small johnson. He took her around the world and promised her the moon, fireworks, and other shiny things. In Rome he proposed and yes, he went to Jared the Jeweler. She said sure, he said neat, then I lost focus because I had to fart but managed to hold it in, to avoid interrupting. I think after that they came back to the States after he proposed. Or maybe they went to Columbia or Guatemala first, then they came back to the States. She showed the ring to her friends. Something, something, something. Then he met someone else, fell in love with him, and blamed it on her because she was a woman. The end.

If my heart wasn’t already broken, then it would’ve been shattered anyway, once I heard her story. But I didn’t tell her that.

It was just after one thirty when Nice Teeth finished up with a grand finale of salty tears, and arm and hand movements which closely resembled the field goal sign.

“Whoa, baby,” I said. I felt sorry for her but I was thinking touchdown! “You’ll get ‘em next time.” She smiled. We had a moment then I laid a smacker on her.

We necked for a while and the bartender watched us. Then Nice Teeth asked me if I had a room upstairs. 

“No way,” I replied. “This place gives me the willies’, baby. Let’s go to my place. It’s right up the street, like only two miles.”

She nodded.

I nodded.

The bartender came over and I paid for our drinks, which were taken away although we still hadn’t finished them.

“Loosey” lady came back with a rag and wiped up the liquid, the mixture of leftover sweat from our cocktail glasses and the salty tears from Nice Teeth. She set down my change, eight quarters, on the bar. I left them there.

Then Nice Teeth and I hit the road. We headed toward love, away from the heartbreak hotel and along that lonely street, while I told her a story about graham crackers and shaving cream. 
(c) 2010 ~ Author Jason Henry McCormick
Publishing Debut ~ AT THE BIJOU 

JASON: Kate, thank you so much. Thanks for the wonderful support and birthday wishes.  

ABSOLUTELY*KATE:  Jason, you are most welcome.  Your writing is a wide open pleasure, setting time and characters in place ~ worth a stroll up any street, lonely or otherwise, AT THE BIJOU. I'm sure you'll find a jolly jive of a following here. As a noted regular regularly utters, "How could it be otherwise?" Here, now make a wish ~


~ Absolutely*Kate and the staff of renown


Wendy said...

Two nice stories, JHM. I enjoyed them both. Just enough detail and storyline to let the reader fill in the blanks...I like it.

Unknown said...

This piece has a great vibe. I dug it thoroughly...

Harry said...

Jason this one is a real gem. Loved it all the way through!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What a poor guy has to go through to have a little tendernes. Apparently, Ant and Harry know all about this. Sugar and I are filling in the blanks.

Laurita said...

Great story with all the right details. The rest are perfectly left to te reader. Well done!

Michael Solender said...

As I said offline to you before, you got it kid!