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All Aboard for Fun Time                                       Bob Pajich



So fucked up I know if I touched the bar mirror it would ripple like mercury. Ken would have me broken just as I melted through the counter. The bar should be a cage for that gorilla and no one dare walk behind it. There’s a baseball bat in a homemade rack up under the bar, just under my hands. All my money is stuffed in the front pocket of Ken’s silky disco shirt. So thin I could see Ben Franklin’s shiny green head from here. One dozen of them folded up tight and stuffed there, smirking.

        Sunny stumbles over and into me. My beer splashes into the ash tray, soaking one I just lit. I look at her like she’s crazy. She’s only aware of her massive tits and massive ass and big fucking mouth and the 25 beers she drank in the last 10 hours. She grabs my cheeks with one hand and squeezes.

        “Let me look,” she squeals. “Look how cute.”

        She’s rough and I pull away. It’s the same pain and leaves the same shadow of childhood hurt when my old Italian grandma wiped sauce off my cheeks with spit and a stiff dish towel. I am so drunk I have nothing to say, just a look you’d find in a sanitarium’s shithouse.

        “Sunny you seriously suck,” I mumble. It sounds like “Sthunny ya sethiiouy sux.”

        She looks hurt.

        “Why would you say such a thing?”

        She gets me feeling bad and then cackles. She punches me in the arm and slaps my face. She rubs her big leg and mountains of flesh against me. I shut my eyes and sway. I have no answer.

        My brain is officially fried.

        Sunny was extra happy because she cleaned up on the football pool. She hit both halves of the day’s first pool, $400, in great drama, two field goals with time ticking to zero. The first one, the kicker hit the upright and it bounced in. If it bounced out, Rusty Shaw would’ve taken the money for the first half. He’s about 90. He knew the old Pirates pitcher Elroy Face “before that motherfucker could shit without getting any on his shoes.” He drinks little draft beers, one after the other, tips a quarter a draft, no one complains, it all adds up over forever. He eats Snyder of Berlin barbecue potato chips, tears the bag open all the way so anyone can have a chip or two if they wanted one. He calls everyone hon.

        When the ball bounced and spun in through the uprights Sunny sent all her flesh flying. She screamed and jumped up and down smashing into her group of drinking buddies, shrieking and crying and laughing.

        Rusty turned to me and said “Can you believe it? Oh well.”

        The same thing happened at the end of the game. Only this time Sunny needed for the guy to shank it and Rusty needed him to kick it true. Something happened, and the kicking team was late getting on the field. The coach didn’t call a timeout and no one else thought about it, so there was a low snap and a bad hold. He kicked one of those knuckleballs from the 28 yard-line and it zigged and zigged up into the air and looked good before viciously hooking at the last possible second, smack-dab into the goal post, and back out toward the players.

        “You mother fucker cock sucking son of a bitch,” Rusty shouted in his brown grocery paper bag voice. “That fucking fat fucking piece of shit slut. Two off the goal post? Motherfucker.”

        Sunny fell to the ground, her eyes squeezed shut, wheezing. Her friends couldn’t hold her ass up when she collapsed into their arms. The dyke blew. All her friends were clapping and laughing at her beached on the fireman club’s scuffed checkered floor. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She laughed like a lumberjack and was having trouble catching her breath.   

        “Wow, Rusty, just wow,” I said. “You both had good numbers, but come on. You should’ve gotten at least one of them.”

        “You would fucking think,” he said.

        Ken came hustling down to my end of the bar after he handled 15 shots and a couple pitchers of Alabama slammers and more beers for Sunny and her crew. He leaned in on me, thinly smiling, a cigarette he was about to light in his lips, staring.

        I placed five one-hundred dollar bills flat against the bar and slid them over. I needed that kick more than Rusty.

        “I’d tell you to go fuck your mother but you might listen,” I said.

        “I’ll let that one go only because it was funny. What do you think of the show?” he said, nodding down to the end.

        “You should ask Rusty.”

        He grabbed a few wooden drink chips from besides the register and put three in front of me and three in front of Rusty.

        “From big mama?”

        “Yeah,” Ken said. “But she doesn’t know she paid for them. She already bought you three. I taxed her ass for being so annoying. What do you think of the show, Rusty,” he said, louder, in the old man’s direction.

        Rusty sat up and started mumbling something we couldn’t hear, his head moving side to side, arguing and bitching with an invisible voice in his head, mulling over what had happened.

        About six hours ago, he came in the fireman's club happy and well, ate a small plate of eggs and sausage with a little splash of Bloody Mary. Now, the vein on his neck pounded dangerously quick and hard, yet we still let him eat potato chips.

        Ken flipped the over to the four o’clock game. The Saints were giving four and a half to Denver. Ken walked over to me and I told him I’d take the Saints for the $600 I had left, left until payday at the end of the week. Ken didn’t believe I had it on me, made me pull out my money clip and flash him. He took the bet.

        I stood to go take a piss and Sunny ran over to me and gave me a bone-crushing hug. She picked me up off the ground a few inches and laughed some more.

        “Did you see what happened, with the ball bouncing? Oh. My. Gooooodddd!” she squealed.

        “Something else.”

        “Just in time. I’m late on my car insurance.”

        Her sister and sister-in-law and the rest of her gaggle began a Sunny chant, “Sun-ny, Sun-ny, Sun-ny.” Sunny blushed.

        “They’re fucking nuts,” she said. “Especially you,” she pointed and shouted at her sister-in-law, rail-thin, bony, famished. She blew a kiss back at Sunny and downed her pink drink.

        “You should buy me a drink,” I said.

        “Kenny,” she screamed. “Get this man a shot.”

        “Better make it a double,” I said. “Better make it fast.”

        “What about me,” Rusty said. “You ruined my day.”

        “Oh Rusty, you have more money than anyone. How about a hand job instead?”

        “From who?” He looked around. “Not you.” Rusty was serious. Not Sunny. Never Sunny.

        “Yeah, from me. Who’d you think?”

        “Maybe Kathy Lee Gifford. Or Vanna White.”

        Rus-ty,” Sunny sang. “You could do better than that.”

        “What about them,” Rusty said, turning toward her, puffing up. He had most of his black hair that he combed back with what seemed to be bacon fat. The blue tattoo on his arm was so faded its meaning was lost. He surely smacked a few women in his day and it looked like he wanted to get back to it.

        “Ok, relax, relax. Don’t have a heart attack. I don’t care if you want to fuck Kathy Lee Gifford or Vanna White’s giant mouth. And I’m sorry the kicker liked me more than he liked you today.”

        She stuck her tongue out at him.

        Ken came by with the same kind of glass he used to quench Rusty’s thirst, a little beer glass, filled with whiskey, and placed it in front of me.

        “Well, all aboard for fun time,” I said. I took two big glugs off the top and it was bad, burned my throat and stomach. “I still haven’t pissed,” I said and pushed past Sunny.

        I took a Vicodin from the little pocket in my blue jeans, broke it in half and ate it dry. I pissed, zipped up and washed my hands. My face was only a hole in my head. Where it should’ve been in the mirror was nothing but a black space. I dried my hands with paper towels, walked back to my beer, slipped the other half of the pill into my mouth and drank it down in four slugs.

        I knew I shouldn’t have, but the game was about to begin.

        I felt my stomach tighten around those two pieces down there. I was so nervous and jittery I was almost itchy.

        The Saints started fast. The Broncos were no good. The Saints had that strut and a great quarterback.

        The kick return was a good one, right up the middle, a hole opened up and Bush shot right through it.

        Brees set up from the 45 and the Broncos defensemen already looked confused and panicked. They had the wrong personnel in.

        “Snap it, snap it,” I shouted.

        He took the snap, dropped back seven steps. A ref's yellow flag flew in the air.

        “Free play!”

        Brees reached back and launched a moon ball that flew up then dropped directly into Meachem’s hands. Brees held his arms up as soon as he let it go.

        Touchdown. The kick was good. I clapped like a Saints' fan, whooped and chugged my beer. I grabbed a chip and pushed my glass forward. Ken shook his head while pulling my beer.

        The kickoff was a squib kick and the third string tight end coughed the ball up as he fell on it. It squirted right into a Saints player’s big mittens. The crowd erupted and people with sequined umbrellas danced in the stands.

        They were set up on the Broncos' 35. I was sweating now.

        Brees took the snap, faked to the running back before he lofted the ball to the flat. The receiver gobbled it up, juked left then shot right and painted a beautiful picture of an open field run until a short cornerback pushed him out at the two yard line.

        “That was pretty,” Rusty said.

        Since I was holding my breath I said nothing.

        Brees snapped the ball, turned and handed it to his running back who ran right into someone’s ass.

        “Second down,” I said.

        Brees took the snap and snuck between 800 pounds of cock and balls and scored.

        “Yippee,” I shouted. “You see that Kenny?”

        “I knew the spread was whacked.” He stood facing the giant TV, arms crossed, biceps bulging. He liked to put his hands under his arms and puff them up to make it look like he was the Italian Stallion or something.

        “It’s early,’ Rusty said.

        “They might score a hundred,” I said, clapping.

        Sometimes, I liked it when it was close, when it took me down the staircase to hell, the walls lined with broken glass, the clock’s minutes machete blades, the tension a buzzing bee. That was the early game and I had lost. I needed a vacation.

        They didn’t score a hundred. Only 45, and I got to sit there the whole time like I was a Samoan king on some hilltop, worried only about how fresh were the fish heads. Rusty poked me hard in the ribs and smiled a sinister, slick smile at me when Kenny slid six-hundred my way. The money picked me up out of the druggy, drunken hole I stood in, just for a second, and I couldn’t help it.

        “Ha!” I shouted, right into Kenny’s face. It came out as flat and black as a skillet.

        Kenny froze and locked his black eyes onto mine, and we stood in place for one of those seconds that isn’t a second, its grandma’s big fat titties and a shot of whiskey. George Westinghouse could’ve encased my nuts in copper wire and powered the whole Electric Valley. It felt so good taking the money from his tight grip and putting it in my pocket.

        Sunny cackled, unexplained, and shrieked as she slid off the stool and collapsed on the floor for the second time. The gaggle sounded like a pack of animals who stumbled on a grove of fermented mangos. Sunny’s sister pissed her pants and it was all too much. It broke them all down into one quivering mass of spit and tears.

        Two old guys picked up their coats, turned their glasses upside down, rolled their eyes and walked out. I tapped my front pocket and felt my keys, next to those folded up hundred dollar bills. My whole skin organ buzzed like a hive of termites listening to Metallica and whatever thoughts I had of heading home were shredded by their humming jaws. Sunday Night Football was next. I felt so good I thought my hands might start to bleed. I cracked every single joint in all my fingers and motioned for Kenny, fingering my wad.






Bob Pajich is a writer living east of the city of Pittsburgh. His latest poetry collection, The Trolleyman, was published by Low Ghost Press. His bios on gangsters and card sharps can be found at