You’re bored. You managed to get through another day at work for the privilege of sitting around waiting to have to go back again in the morning. Is this what you endured all that for? You want to make it count, but all of your friends are busy. Lives. You’ve got nothing. You could drink at that dive bar on the corner, but it would be awkward to go by yourself. You’d feel uncomfortable. Also, you’ve got work in the morning. Should you really go out and drink? Still, the bar really calls to you even though it would be more responsible to stay home. If your choice hadn’t already been made, you could decide to stay in and watch Matlock by going to #2. However, you’ve already chosen to go to the bar…so go to #1.
1.The bar is mostly deserted. It’s all dark and wood, padded with thick leather. It feels as if you stepped back into the trendy depressed alcoholism of the seventies for those who didn’t do coke and were perpetually alone. A worn bartender with fake tits flirts with a bunch of fat old white guys wearing cowboy hats at the other end of the bar, making them a Rob Roy. You drink a tiny draft alone. The bar is otherwise empty. You’re drinking though, right? You aren’t wasting the precious few hours you have to yourself? You’re living a worthwhile and thrilling life, right? You could go to #3 if you were able to choose simply having a draft or two more before meekly trudging home. Instead, go to #4 because you’ve decided to risk living it up a little more and ordering a boilermaker.
2.Uh…perhaps you misread the end of the intro section. You chose the bar. Go to #1.
3.No! I’m not telling you what this led to. You don’t get to read this one. I told you, you picked #4. Stop reading this and get down to the next one now. I don’t want to have to tell you again.
4.You’re starting to feel good now. The weight is lifting from your shoulders; the bourbon in the boilermaker is working. A couple girls actually come in, taking a table as far from the bar as possible. They’ve obviously come from the gym. They’re all perky in yoga pants and ponytails, slumming a quick self-congratulatory Cosmo. Shot full of that manic booze energy, you imagine you could work your way into their table with a witty joke, make them laugh and find yourself a welcome member of their little party. You chicken out though and order more boilermakers. Go to #6. Too bad, if you hadn’t already picked #6 you could have gone to #5.
5.Predestination: the divine foreordination of all that will happen. Get it? Clearer now? It means you can’t read what would have unfolded here because your selection was made ahead of time. You can’t change it…so stop being an asshole and trying to. I’m getting really sick of you.
6.You’re feeling REALLY good now. Really. The rest of the bar is fading away. More boilermakers. Maybe a Jaeger Bomb. Singapore Sling? You used to be fond of those back in your heavier partying days. Some small part of you is still aware that you’ve gone too far already, that work tomorrow is going to be really hard. Hard enough without going further. I’m not going to tell you about another option though, because you don’t go for it. You don’t even get to look at the number, or have the entry available for your unauthorized perusal. You stop registering what is happening during one of your drinks and go to #7.
7.There’s a truck backing up in the alley outside your apartment window. Beep! Beep! Beep! Your head SCREAMS in response. Wait…that’s not a truck. It’s your oven timer. You find a frozen pizza set out on top of the stove. Apparently, you were going to cook it before you totally collapsed. Red wine is spilled all over the floor, staining. Well, at least you hadn’t put the pizza in the oven before you involuntarily crashed, right? That would have been worse. You turn off the oven and struggle into work. It’s extremely painful, but you guess your job isn’t as hard as you make yourself think, because you manage to get through it. At least you had a night you’ll sort of remember, right? That’s something. God…you really need to find something more significant to do with your life.
David S. Atkinson is the author of “Not Quite so Stories,” “The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes” (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and “Bones Buried in the Dirt” (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80k). his writing appears in “bartleby snopes,” “grey sparrow journal,” “atticus review,” and others. his writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/ and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in denver.