A Man Walks into a Bar by Matt Tompkins
A man walks into a bar the whole bartop sparkles with promise untold and the man looks around at the beautiful strangers the bartender nods as his hands wring a towel he says hey there friend whatcha drinkin today? the man grins and his twinkle-teeth gleam like the moon.
A man walks into a bar birds chirp flowers bloom little chipmunks jeté and the bartender lands from a neat triple lutz softly plunks down a glass fills it up slides it over the drink pirouettes to slap five to the man’s waiting palm and all’s right with the world.
A man walks into a bar sits down stool spins him around so he stops face-to-face with the neat rows of bottles the whole holy chorus of browns/ambers/ochres/golds/yellows/crystals on each paper coaster a glass thunks and tinkles with ice-heaven-music the man shouts amen.
A man walks into a bar in his throat the crisp-cold in his brain tingly-warmth and he thinks first-sip-best-sip but amends and then counters next-sip-best-sip so he orders another ten minutes another ten minutes another and on just like that all night long.
A man walks into a bar the sensation that builds in the backs of his eyes ocean-swells he thinks this is the place where I surf two more drinks he thinks please no don’t let the crest break two more drinks he thinks god help me just let me drown.
A man walks into a bar stalks into a bar tumbles into a bar fumbles into a bar ambles into a bar gambols into a bar rambles into a bar shambles into a bar putters into a bar stutters into a bar mutters into a bar gutters into a bar huddles into a bar muddles into a bar scuttles into a bar.
A man walks into a bar says breakfast of champions five o’clock somewhere he figures he’d best keep it light if you joke then it can’t be a problem that’s right is it not you can joke then it’s not a real problem that’s right yeah right yeah isn’t that right.
A man walks into a bar can’t remember where was it he came from and wait did he have an appointment or something or somewhere to be was it maybe to pick up the kids can’t remember ah fuckitall then he says just be here now and he calls down the bar for another.
A man walks out of one bar to another but did he remember to close out his tab can’t remember and wait did he have one more card and where did that wad of cash go but he says oh forget it it’s gone c’est la vie and he pats a young woman just neighborly-like.
A man walks into the fist of the young woman’s husband whose back he just slapped too-hard whose back he remembers he tapped like a dream this guy so pissed fat fists hauled off he decked the man good in the face and the man tumbles down with blood in his eye.
A man walks into a bar with black eyes he tries to force out a quick laugh but it turns to a cough rattles up some black bile some vile-looking phlegm the man grabs at a napkin to mop off his lip he should probably get that checked out right away but instead he just orders a double.
A man walks into a bar keeps his gaze off the mirror he’s looking real hard other way he pretends not to see himself looks at the floor keeps his eyes on his shoes keeps his hands in his pockets his lunch he keeps down but just barely he mutters goddamn you, brain, shut up.
A man walks into a bar and he’s chuckling alone he’s the only one laughing a joke in his head is so funny he can’t help but laugh someone asks what’s so funny he just stares ahead like you don’t get it man can’t explain it’s just life life’s a big fucking shit of a joke ha-ha-ha.
A man walks into a bar someone says you look rough get you something to eat have some wings or some fries oughta eat something huh or just have some free peanuts for chrissakes okay but the man’s stomach churns it’s all soured don’t talk about food.
A man walks into a bar sees the bartender talking sees everyone talking but all he can hear is the wind in a tunnel or sounds bubbling up from a lakebottom dredge or a film in slow motion or everyone’s voice like an off-tune bassoon the man’s ears chug-a-lug-cotton-plugged.
A man walks into a bar tries to walk in a bar but the door won’t swing open he tugs but it’s locked the man squints at his watch checks the hours they open at noon he could swear it was noon now he curses the door and he curses the world and he curses the drums in his head.
A man walks into a bar stumbles out mumbles out bumbles out humbles out crawls out falls out bawls out stalls out oozes out woozes out snoozes out dribbles out quibbles out snivels out shrivels out pisses out bobbles out hobbles out wobbles out out into the blinding sun.
Matt Tompkins has stories forthcoming in Post Road and Ostrich Review. His work has previously appeared in journals including Cooper Street, Gigantic Sequins, decomP, and theNewerYork’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature. You can find more of Matt’s writing at his website: needsrevision.com. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, daughter, and cat.