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A Tavern, 6 PM
by Timothy Gager

Adam never subscribed to Bukowski-esque behavior, even after a few pints, but today was different. Adam's year was not going well. Today there was a woman sitting next to him, whose eyes were older, whose mouth was ripe and wet. Today, without warning, he twisted toward her and he kissed her.

Her arms tensed, poised but not ready to strike. "Why did you do that?" she asked.
-"Don't know. Never tried to before, always wanted to," he said.
She curled her feet against the rungs of the barstool feeling the pressure against them.
-"Beer?" Adam asked.
-"Harpoon!" Adam shouted to the bartender, who nodded and quickly delivered.
"And for the lady?"
-"Gin and something," she said.
-"Gin and what?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "Something."
-"I'll be back," the bartender said.
-"Gin and something?" Adam chuckled.
-"I always think I should order Gin, but don't know really. Gin and tonic is all too tah-tah ordinary." Her body leaned away from Adam but she was locked in, watching him.
-"Try a Tom Collins. No one orders those."

Adam's nervous movements, the way he swallowed his ale, followed by his tongue unrolling, reaching up to lick his lip after every sip appealed to her. He was a thirsty animal. She felt the tingle now all the way up her legs, a wanting she wished to dismiss. "Sour," she said after sipping her drink.
-"Maybe they made it wrong," he said.
-"It takes a lot to make something wrong."
-"What do you mean?"
-"My marriage. Last night he said he was leaving. He couldn't go fast enough. I mean, he said he was leaving for about five fucking hours."
-"Oh, that's too bad," Adam said.
-"Oh, not really. I'm here now." She touched his arm. "I feel like I'm forgetting something." She was trying to be subtle, slowly stroking her hair. She noticed the way his black hair curled slightly over the top of his ears. She leaned back and laughed, remembering what it was like to laugh in the company of men. Had it been that long? Her husband used to say her laugh was infectious and now it was Adam hanging on it, like a dog waiting for a stick to be tossed.
-"So why did you do that?" she asked again.
-"I told you."
-"Tell me again."
-"I wanted to. I've always wanted to do it."
-"Well you can kiss me again," she said. "If you wish."
-"It won't be the same, but sure. I'd like that." This time, she found he tasted like the delicious warm ale on his breath. To him, she was like a brand of medicine tasting mouthwash.
-"Let me have a pen," she said. "I want to give you my number."
-"Yes…your number." Adam paused.
-"I don't have to give it to you," she cut in while he sat there in a barrel, before going over the falls. He was a man in front of the bull's eye, as she was set to throw the knives. He was Evel Knievel, sitting on the launching pad at the Snake River Canyon. He was JFK, getting off the plane in Dallas. He was a student of Hell, right before the final exam. He didn't know what to do, when she slid the piece of paper, with "Eve", and a number written under it. She leaned in, across their space toward him. He wanted to be honest.
-"I have cancer," he blurted out a second before her mouth was upon him. Eve balled her right hand and struck him as hard as she possibly could.

About the author:
Timothy Gager is the author of Short Street and Twenty-Six Pack, both collections of short fiction and the e-book, The Damned Middle. His first book of poetry, The same corner of the Bar, is available through Ibbetson Street Press and his most recent, We Needed A Night Out, was released in 2006. He hosts the Dire Literary Series in Cambridge,Massachusetts every month and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writers Festival where he has read with Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Olen Butler and Franz Wright.

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