(Writers note: 1 night, 6 POV)
Kids are a handful. I am struggling to raise two of my own lately. When I see someone with a half dozen kids at a supermarket, I laugh inside. You should've thought about going on birth control, lady! I say it quietly under my breath. I do my own thing and keep my rascals under a short leash. For the most part, they are all well behaved kids. Occasionally the little one will throw a fit if she doesn’t have it her own way, but that lasts only a few seconds. She knows that if she keeps it up, she will be in a heap of trouble. I am blessed to have them both in my life nevertheless.
I get the kids ready. They are going to be with my parents for the night. I have another late shift again. By the time I pick them up, it will be late. I fill a small backpack with some snacks, and spare clothings. Little one has the cough. Hopefully nothing too serious. The weather is changing. It's very well be the normal cold that she gets every year.
I meet up with mom at their front porch. "How's daddy?" I ask.
"Oh he is fine, just sprained his ankle jumping off the ladder is all." Mom responded.
"You sure you gonna be alright with the kids, daddy being crippled and all?" I asked.
"We'll be fine. He never helps me with them even when he's healthy as a horse. Ain't no make no difference now." Mom laughs. "How are little angels?" She turns to the kids. "Y’all be ready to help grandma with the garden? The tomatoes are ripping now. See who gets the good one first."
"Thanks ma." I handed her the backpack. "I'm be late again to get'em; that alright?"
"Take yo time baby girl. We gonna have fun-- them and I." Mom responded.
I go back to my car and start the engine. Tonight is going to be a busy night. A good day for great tips. If I get lucky, I might even find myself a gentleman. It's been a while since the kids' daddy had left. Good thing he left when he did. He would've been dead by now and I would've been in jail. I pull up into the back parking lot that is dedicated to the employees. It is still too early for the night crowed. I need to make as much money as I can. I park my car and adjust the red headband over my golden blonde hair. The headband matches with my short red dress with black polka dots all over it. I step out of the car, adjust my bra using the side mirror to show just the right amount of cleavage. My twins are going to make me some money tonight! I lock my car door and go in.
“O, I die Horatio; The potent poison quite o’er-crows my spirit: I cannot live to hear the news from England; But I do prophesy the election lights on Fortinbras; he has my dying voice; So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less, which have solicited. The rest is silence.”
I was Hamlet once, long ago when I was young and full of hopes. I was spunky then and was a hundred pound lighter. Nowadays, I don’t recognize who I am anymore. The mirror in-front of me doesn’t lie. It tells me what I need to know and shows me what’s really standing in front of it. I get out of there fast and get ready. You can only look at yourself for so long before getting depressed. I don’t want to be depressed today. It’s a big day for me. I might be visited by an agent. We spoke briefly on the phone. I told him where I will be tonight. He said he will come and will find me. We will talk then. Maybe he will have a job for me; maybe he will give me an audition for the Lion King production that’s happening in town next month. We will see.
My shift doesn’t start for another few hours-- from five until closing when all the drunks and fools are gone. Meantime, I have some time to stop by at the library. Maybe I will read the Lion King again; memorize some of the lines. I bet they will be impressed when I get called in for the audition and I deliver my lines without a tele-prompt. I could be a good Mufasa. Sure I am not James Earl Jones, but I can make my voice go deep when needed. One time I did the closing announcement at the bar mimicking the voice of Darth Vader. I thought it was convincing enough.
I stop at the Municipal Library and pick up a scripted copy of the Lion King. I grab a chair in the corner on the first floor near the coffee bar and read the first chapter. I grab a cup of coffee before starting the next. The owner of the coffee shop recognizes me. He waves and smiles, “Hey, John! Working tonight?”
“I am.” I smile awkwardly. I’ve seen him before at the bar but just can’t remember the name.
“See you there tonight after I close here.” He says.
“Not if I see you first.” I respond with a wink.
I continue with the Lion King for the next two hours. After I finish reading the play, I feel pretty confident about taking on the role. I leave the library and head to my work. It’s going to be a busy night. Saturday nights are always busy at the bar. People come to enjoy and let loose after a week of slaving away doing whatever they do at work. Having the only bar and grill here, people tend to come and hang out more often.
I go in through the backdoor that reads “Employees Only.” I put away my book and my belongings into the locker and step into the bar. I need to get ready for the busy hours and need to stock up. I tally up the empty bottles on a notepad and walk down to the basement. I grab what I need and neatly restock the bar. Mariam is busy serving food to customers on table nine. Sometimes it feels like she is the only waitress who wants to work. She looks at me from afar and waves. I wave back. I look around for a suit. He will be here, I know he will. I see a glimpse of me in the mirror behind the back-bar. I adjust my bow tie, tuck my shirt in and whisper with a clenched fist, Today, or not today… that is the question. I hear the first customer take the corner seat. I get to work.
I made twenty thousand dollars in commission on selling a half million dollar house this month. Last month I made only five thousand on a crappy house. For some reason this one is not selling. I am doing everything I am supposed to be doing to sell this house. I have listed the damn thing on Zillow and all the other real estate sites you can think of. I have a huge ‘For Sale’ sign on the front yard, but yet no one is biting. I need to get this off my hand soon.
It's an open house today from ten to four. I am hoping to have a good turn up. I set the table with snacks and coffee. I put a stack of my business cards on the table next to the sign-up sheets. I open the windows for fresh air and open the door for the guests. I turn on my laptop and wait. The hardest thing to do when expecting guests is to wait and see who comes first. It's nearly ten thirty and not a single soul showed interest in taking a peek inside. I open my laptop and click on the folder titled "My First Novel." I click on it and find the word document with my piece. I double click on the doc that opens up to where I left off. I continue with my writing. I should take advantage of this free time and put some thoughts together.
After adding a few more pages to my novel, I notice my first customer entering - a couple in their fifties. I greet them politely and introduce myself, “Hello! I am Paul. Thank you for coming. Let me show you guys around.”
I show them around the house and tell them what they need to hear. I offer them coffee and snacks and thank them for showing interest in the property. It wasn't long before that more parties begin to arrive and see the house. I give each of them the tour they require and answer all of their questions.
At the end of the open house, I pack up my things. It was a good turnout after all. Let's hope that we will have a potential owner soon. I lock up the front door and head to my car. After an exhausting day, I crave for some company. Sure I could go home and be with the family, but I need some 'me' time. I drive my crappy car through the roads of downtown and pull into a parking garage. I stick some quarters into the parking meter and walk to the bar near the garage. This place is packed. I will have a few drinks, mingle with some people, hand out my business cards and who knows, maybe I will get some potential clients.
What a brave little guy he is! Not a single care in the world; no worries that would wrinkle his tiny little forehead. He roams around the park, hides between the shrubs, climbs on trees and looks for something-- anything to sink his teeth in. He is not afraid of me. He comes close and grabs the bread crumbs off of my hand. He runs away and devours his hunt. He comes back again and begs for more. I take a bite of the turkey sandwich and cut up a slice of bread. He likes the bread and not the meat. I tried giving him a piece of turkey meat before, but he ignored me and stared at me in disbelief. What gives old man? Why are you trying to poison me? I stay on the park bench until dawn and watch the squirrel roam around. He is my friend-- my only friend that keeps me company nowadays.
I leave the park and head to the city. I stop infront of the familiar bar-- my get away spot, a home far away from home. I walk in and grab a chair at the bar. Bartender looks at me and smiles. “Your regular?” he asks. I nod.
“When are you going to try a beer or some whisky?” the bartender asks, smiling.
“When you will become a movie star.” I smile back and respond, “Besides, I like my gin and tonic.”
After grabbing the glass I disappear into the world that gives me comfort. The place is a little crowded here tonight. Most of the regulars are here already. Saturday night seems to be the best night to mingle for the youngsters. No one looks at me. I empty the glass in one chug and wave to the bartender. Keep it coming buddy. I am not going anywhere. I am with my muse, lost in love. I have everything I need right here with me.
I must’ve been smiling from ear to ear. When I was leaving the barrack, my Chief Petty Officer stopped me in the hallway of the main office and called me by my name. I drop everything instantly and stop with my right hand folded to my side, raising my fingers near the forehead. “At ease, Seaman.” He accepts my salutation. “What are you so happy about?”
“Happy to go home for a week sir.” I respond with a smile.
“Well enjoy your free time. Go see Petty Officer Moore when you return. I believe he has some good news for you.”
‘Sir yes sir.” I pick up my belongings and head to the end of the barricaded gate.
I have heard some rumors around the bunk on a promotion. The news could very well be something of that nature. I don’t want to think about it now. My heart is on the bus to home. I can’t wait to see my family and my friends; can’t wait to hang out and enjoy the time outside of this barrack.
The bus stopped downtown in the busy city. I grab my bag and step out. My brother is picking me up from the bus stop. I wait for him as I watch the sun go down slowly. The little hot dog stand near the downtown theater is crowded at this hour. I am not hungry but could go for a drink. The bar around the corner seems to be decent. I send a quick text to my brother with my location and step into the bar.
The hotel I am staying in for the weekend is not a top-of-the-line hotel, but it works. The musky smells in the hotel room makes my stomach cringe. One more night and I am out of this hell hole. The hotel room came with the gig as a packaged deal. I will make two grands singing at the bar downtown for two nights; in return, I will have free breakfast and a place to stay. I couldn’t resist. Next stop is New York. If anything, I am looking forward to that more and more.
I clean up the room, take a shower, and put on my suit. The smell of liquor and cigarettes are still lingering on the jacket from the night before. Who cares! No one will notice. I am their entertainment and they are my bread-- nothing more, nothing less.
I leave my instruments at the hotel room and take a cab downtown. The bar I am performing in has a piano. I can spend hours on that and keep everyone entertained. I step out of the cab and walk towards the back of the bar. Before I go in I light up a cigarette and stop near the alleyway. I watch the busy downtown get busier as I inject the poisons from a stick of Marlboro into my lungs. The bartender steps outside for a quick smoke break. He waves at me and smiles. "Ready for another awesome night Mr. Joel?" He asks as he takes long puffs in a hurry.
"Sure thing Joe." I respond.
"Knock'em dead. Will see you inside." He disappears inside as fast as he came out.
I stare at the neon sign hanging from the glass window on the bar. Pretty weird name for a bar-- Piano Bar. Who names a bar-and-grill restaurant a Piano Bar? I am not judging. I walk in. Looks like the regular crowd is here already. Someone in the distance recognizes me instantly. “Go Billy!” he shouts. I wave and take my seat on the bench infront of the piano. I am ready for the crowd and the crowd is ready for me. Let's see if I can help them forget the real world for a night and let them be free.