I have posted several times on her One Liner Wednesday thread, but this is the first time I’ve taken part in Linda G Hill‘s Stream of Consciousness Saturday feature, which involves writing a freeform piece from a prompt posted on Linda’s blog on a Friday. (see the rules at the end of this post)
Well this weekend’s prompt was as follows:
“…“ke.” Use the letter combination at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the word you choose to base your post on…”
This story came to me last night and was all written today, admittedly in two or three sittings, but only because I was running errands in between, I just got a bit carried away as usual and it ended up slightly longer than I initially envisaged.
So here is my entry in Stream of Consciousness Saturday on the theme of “ke”…
(Oh, and there is a little bit of strong language, for those of you with a sensitive disposition)
Kelly’s Bar was the sort of place where seekers of oblivion found what they were looking for and it looked like the usual pilgrims had ended their journey here again tonight.
Taking my drink from the silent bartender, almost invisible in the gloom amongst the dusty bottles, just a disembodied hand scraping my money off the stained oak counter into some unseen drawer, I turned on my stool and took in my surroundings.
I didn’t get into Kelly’s much these days, the place had gotten itself too much of a reputation since all the trouble back in the ’90s, but I dropped in to soak up the faded ambiance of the place once every couple of months, if it had been an especially tough day at the precinct, just for a couple beers and maybe to play the jukebox for an hour before heading home.
I never got any hassle, just the odd sneering look and maybe a threatening growl from the shadows once in a while.
Having a badge helped, but not much.
The place had been a speakeasy, back in the bad old days, and it still maintained that underlying air of sleaze, one that no number of cheap remodellings or makeovers could dispel. The walls were a uniform tobacco brown and the shabby upholstery hadn’t been tasteful or modern, even when it was last changed, probably after the fire back in ’94.
As for the clientele, they may just as well have been sitting in the same seats as they were back then, caught in suspended inanimation, sipping the same eternal whiskey and staring miserably into the bottom of the same smeared glass, drinking like there was no tomorrow.
Or any yesterday for that matter.
The figure two stools along from me was no exception, clearly well on the way to forgetfulness, he was grumbling to himself in a gravely half whisper, his voice barely a croak above the Ramones hit that was currently thumping out of the elderly juke in the corner, although he would occasionally become agitated and shout, or at least mumble more energetically, seemingly unconnected words.
“Goddamn pigs!”, he slurred loudly at one point.
I ignored him, I was used to this sort of casual abuse from certain sections of our glorious metropolitan society and anyway, he didn’t seem the type to pose much of a threat.
He was slouched over his shot glass and a questionable bowl of nuts, battered trilby pulled low over his forehead and the collar on his threadbare trench coat turned all the way up, despite the warm, musty air of the basement bar. He was holding a muttered, angry, but otherwise indecipherable conversation, presumably with himself, every now and then gesticulating wildly with his arms, the two sticks he carried to steady himself knocking sharply on the footrail beneath the bar.
“Fucking Animal!” he croaked, startling one or two of the more sentient inhabitants of nearby booths, and with that he clambered down awkwardly from the high stool and, untangling his sticks whilst cursing gently under his breath, slowly made his way to the restroom out back.
I wandered over to the jukebox, idly scrolled through the selections and chose a few classics to drink my second beer to.
Sometimes Kelly’s gets you like that, you gotta stay for that second beer, and I had nowhere better to be so what the hell, right?
Anyway, this grouchy old guy, he comes back from the men’s room, tottering along on those sticks of his, finally makes it back onto his stool, motions the invisible barman for another shot and gets back to some serious moping and mumbling,
“…he never did get up those goddamn stairs, little bastard…”
“…”In space?” I said, “In space! It’ll never work!” But what do I know? I just run the show, don’t mind me…”
Listening to him moaning incoherently away in the background just added to the whole Kelly’s experience, so he didn’t bother me much until that tune came on.
As soon as the honky-tonk piano track, which I’d put on the juke ten minutes earlier, as soon as that came on, you heard what he was saying then alright.
This grumpy little guy, he jumped right down off his stool, turned round and croaked to the bar in general;
“Which one of you motherfuckers thought THIS,” he pointed at the jukebox, “was funny? You all know I hate that fucking dog!”
He glared balefully around the room from under the brim of his trilby and, getting no response from the stunned patrons, snapped up the collar of his coat, grabbed his sticks and made for the door, still mumbling drunkenly;
“…Don’t they know know who I am….?..Goddamn critics, who needs ’em?…”
A low muttering from the assembled drinkers was silenced by the words of the unseen bartender;
“All right, settle down you lot, it’s only Kermit, you know he doesn’t mean any harm.”
I always say, you never know who you might see in Kelly’s on a quiet night, you get all sorts in there…
Here are the rules to SoCS:
1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.
2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.
3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”
4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.
5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.
6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!
7. Have fun!