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"Pre-Prime", short story excerpt

Monday 3/23/20

The night, he thought, has a way of shifting into itself—an assertion of its night-ness even while the color of sky stays the same, the clock knows little change. The stilling of motion.


The thought occurred to him when he stumbled, half-shoved, out of the bar and heard his foot on the snow that had not existed when he had gone in. The final indictment had occurred as he rested his head on the table, asleep and awake concurrently. The table was sticky on account of the pitchers, the halos of spilled lager and condensation from the outline of the bottoms. He was in the prime of life. Actually, the pre-prime. Still on his way up. That made him stronger still. Twenty-five.


“Get him out of here,” the bartender said to his friends an hour before. They laughed. They were also in the pre-prime. They didn’t think they were invincible so much as damn hard to beat. They’d be around for a long while yet, sufficiently long that they couldn’t even imagine an ending, couldn’t begin to think how there would ever be one.


“He’s good,” one of them says. “Let him just sit with us. He won’t drink any more.” The bartender didn’t want to watch the kid vomit even though the bar-back would have to clean it up. Seemed like a sweet kid interested in a girl he’d been staring at all night at the end of the bar.


He didn’t talk a lot to his friends and she didn’t talk a lot to hers. Maybe they were both shy. Maybe they were both trying to figure out what to say should one of them finally walk over to the other. His friends asked him if he would hit that when they saw him staring. He was trying not to stare. It was hard to help it. “Fuck yeah, I would,” he said, feeling guilty. “I’d make her gush on me,” he added, taking another drink from a buddy’s beer. He was drinking most of theirs. They were done drinking. They were talking and boasting.


They were in the pre-prime, knew it, loved it, but maybe one or two of them feared it would be over, would hit them without sufficient preparedness on their part, they’d struggle to adjust. So they boasted some more. One of them said they could call that girl from last weekend. Two of them had taken her home. “There’s only one condition,” she had said, as they stepped out into the snow, different snow than the snow that had fallen and accumulated tonight. “You both wrap up.”


The jokes continue. Those two friends were not going to tell the other friends the story of last weekend, but they figure what the hell, they are in the pre-prime, they are not invincible but they are as close as you get to being as close as you get, so they talk.


“Didn’t it smell like period in there?” one says, to which the other adds, “Didn’t stop you from busting a nut, like seriously, I had to see this asshole’s cum face,” and he does an impression, looking like a spastic monkey in anguish, or a shaking revenant with plastered rictus.


“I thought I said get this guy out of here,” the bartender repeats, and now he motions to the bouncer. The bouncer walks to the table, gathers up the kid with a firm hand under the arm, back near the shoulder. His friends hardly notice. They’re debating if they should call the woman from last weekend. They don’t call her a woman or a girl. Slut, whore. “Yo, bro,” one of them says, “at least she won’t be on that period this time,” and they all laugh as the bartender hustles the kid into the street.