(Near the Army bases. Taverns and bars filled with sad people. Some lost something. Some are lonely and some are waiting for someone. Needing a kind voice, a gentle touch and maybe, some laughter.)
The drunken man at Fort Hood at the Belton Texas dance hall drank the $3.00 Long Island ice teas till nine. He drank alone and he was waiting for no-one. He had learned to love the silence. The Army busy days made him need the quiet.
The music was good the one-hand bartender Pete didn’t talk to him. Bartenders knew the talkers and they knew the quiet people. Pete kept the Long Island Island tea coming.
He looked at the mirror and he told the ugly face. You did well dumb-ass. In the mirror, he saw a pretty woman sat next to him. He saw long auburn hair, a lonely face and her eyes dusty with sadness. He turned to her and he asked. Can I buy the prettiest girl in Belton, a drink. The Long Islands, my favorite. $3.00 till nine. She gave him a fake smile and she told him. I am bad company soldier, maybe find someone more cheerful?
He laughed at her words and he told her. I told like those happy girls. I like those women who show you real face, need some drinks and they tell you the truth. Wanted or not. She turned to him, touched his face. You are a old soldier, drinking alone on a Friday night. Where is your wife, where is your girlfriend? He told her. I killed off love, I murdered off all the kind people I knew. I have my Long Island ice teas and the good song. It is enough for me.
She laughed at my words and she told him. You are like my father. He went to war and he came home and the man we loved, we knew. He disappeared. He drank himself to death. Are you drinking yourself to death? I didn’t answer her and I drank the Long Island tea down. She reached our her hand and she told him. My name is Julie and what is your name? I will accept the Long Island ice tea. I turned and I looked at her. Her eyes were kinder and more gentle now. I told Pete, one for the lady and one more for me.
I told her, my name is Johnnie. Soldier hiding in the tavern foxholes and very nice to meet you. My father drank himself to death. It is hellish when we follow our father’s footsteps. Hell had many of us and Hell, waiting for more of us. She stood-up and she embraced him. She asked, can you quit drinking tonight? I need to Texas two-step and maybe some laughter. You and I. Leftover people. Wounded people. She entwined my hands and finger with her gentle hands and fingers. She sang him a lullaby.
“Wounded anger, had bled out. She told the rising moon, give me hope, show me kindness, make me believe I will be alright. I need a dancing moon, a brave man, someone to make me smile. Someone to show me their scars and I will show them, my scars. Maybe not love, maybe enough.”
He brought her closer and he whispered. Some people cannot be saved. They like the smell of shit and they had accepted less. She released him and she told him. Walk with me, talk with me, sit with me. We are the same-ness in many things and maybe we can find one reason to be okay. He laughed at her words and he told her. You are a Texas hurricane and when I look into your eyes. I feel brave. Let’s quit drinking, do some Texas two-stepping. I would be honor to have the company of you.