I thought about Glory, but I thought about her often, the pangs of a hunger strike and the allure of wormholes when Mcloughlin waved me over to the bar. We resumed our conversation, picking up where we left off last week over shots of Irish Whiskey, with the same piece of food stuck between his green teeth. Gren.
“Bad times. Good times. It’s all temporary,” Mcloughlin said. “It’s a rough time. That’s for certain. The world always seems to be in the shitter. Arab spring. Endless corruption. Ponzi schemes. Staggering unemployment. War. War all the fucking time. Bukowski? Is today thursday?”
“Couldn’t tell you,” said Segal.
“Nevermind all that horseshit. War is everywhere. It’s inside us. The world is stretched thin and nose diving. There was a writer that said something eye opening, and don’t quote me now, he said something to the effect of if he had to start out today, he’d probably kill himself. I don’t want to dissuade you from writing. I’m just letting you know that I know that this is a terrible time. How old are you again, boy?”
“I’d kill a small country to be 28 again. Do you know who said that quote?”
I didn’t, and offered up another author I’d never read, Updike.
“Fuck it. Who gives fuck all who said it? Some asshole like us said it and there is some legitimacy to his statement,” said Mcloughlin, banging his shaky, spotted hairy hand on the bar.
“It’s a tough industry to breach,” I said.
“True fucking story,” said Brennan.
“What are you doing with your life, mate? That eye of yours is bad.”
“The eye is bad, lad.”
I’m fine. A Liar like Hattie.
“Jesus,” said Mcloughlin, taking the lord’s name in vain. “You mix some oatmeal with hot water, not boiling, just hot, whatever you can bear, and rub it on your eye.”
“The eye is fucked. It’s hurting me looking at the fucking thing.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I guess rub oatmeal on my eye.”
“Are you dense? I’m talking about your life. You’re not very wide are you? What do you want out of life? Do you have goals, boy?”
I felt attacked, and overwhelmed and could feel my brain shutting down. I shrugged.
Mcloughlin mocked my shrug with a whiny shrug of his own. “Complete shit.”
“What I want changes from day to day. I know that I want something invariably different than the life I’m living currently.”
“So change it. No one is going to change it for you. Believe that.”
“When I was your age I was a mess wandering around Europe. I felt like there was no purpose and maybe there wasn’t but we tried to give meaning to things.”
“Well, I don’t have the have money to go and wander around Europe.”
“Wilhelm, you’re a very negative boy. And I thought we were a sad lot. You’re carrying a lot of sadness in there, boy. The trick is to appreciate what you have while you have it and acknowledge your potential and always, always trudge onward. I wouldn’t say you so much as feel sorry for yourself but rather you think it’s already over but you haven’t even started yet. That’s the beauty in it.”
Ok, I said.
“How old are you?”
“Ah, 28. You’re a pup. A wee small one. And speaking of small ones. Bartender, a round of small ones for me and the boys.”
Rhys lined up five shot glasses and leveled each one with generous pour. I was agitated he poured one for himself. I still hated him, and all the things I presumed about him. I scoffed at this asshole’s headshot, his graduate school enrollment and his trust fund. “What are we toasting to?”
Shut the fuck up, I thought to myself.
“To Flood here,” said Mcloughlin, lifting his shot. “With the flood, with this flow into the beckoning arms of the open sea, with this expansive return, I want to make a confession and proclaim you as no one has yet done. Sláinte.”
“Sláinte,” said Brennan, with a nod of the head, most of the whiskey was gone, and the rest made a home on his shirt.
“Hits the spot doesn’t it.”
“Sure does,” said Segal.
“So where was I?”
“You were saying that you think that I think my life is already over.”
“You view life as an antagonist. You need to see her as she is, a heroine. You have your youth so you still have her. She is brave and noble, cruel and beautiful, and still on your side. Are you working on anything?”
“A little here and there but nothing consistent, nothing coherent.”
“You lack discipline. Why aren’t you writing every day? You have to write, son.”
“I know. You’re right. All I have is excuses. I’m tired, stagnant, and frustrated.”
“I’m those things too, Wilhelm.” Brennan waved a hand.
“You write about a house. The house is a metaphor for a story. You build the house from scratch, any way you see it, any way you want, it’s your house. You envision it, not me, not Brennan or Segal, or the Mary behind the bar, only you. You got your protagonist, antagonist, some fucking, always pepper it with some fucking, and then you burn the house down. Destroy the house.”
“I’ll destroy the house.”
“Repeat after me. Destroy the fucking house.”
“Destroy the fucking house. Sound advice.”
“Our lady friend is here.”
Glory walked into the bar and immediately I felt nervous and perspired. “I see her. Hey, what was that quote from before?”
“Before the shots we just did.”
“Oh, that was our comrade Rilke.”
“I wish I could memorize shit like that.”
“Why? Who gives a fuck. It makes no difference. I’m no wiser than you, lad. I’ve just been around longer.”
Glory hopped up in between Mcloughin and I, and planted a kiss on my mouth that I wasn’t ready for, so naturally our first kiss was weird for me. Glory asked me if I was ready to leave, and I said, yes. But the truth was I was always ready to leave, at any given time I’m good to go, no garbage bag necessary.