Chatting with Mr. Hicks (Flash Fiction)

(This story isn’t very good. I’ve been in a shit mood today and this whole thing is mostly written for myself. Flash Fiction is often therapeutic, but this one is specific for my day.)

Bob lurched through the door and sat at the first open stool he found. His jacket was wet, but he didn’t take it off. He waved to the bartender who nodded his head and began pouring a pint. Bob rubbed his face. His body was weary. He looked up and saw that the game was on and the Sox were down 4-1. He shook his head.

“Bob,” came a voice.

Bob leaned and looked between the bottles lining the inside of the bar. Through them sat a man with black hair hanging below his ears and a cigarette in his mouth. “How ya been,” asked Bill.

“Oh. Hey Bill. Didn’t see ya there.” The bartender brought the drink and Bob immediately drank it halfway down.

“That good, huh?” said Bill.

Bob sighed and was surprised when his body shuddered on the verge of tears. He finished the rest of his beer and waved for a second to come. “I don’t even know anymore, Bill,” Bob said through the bottles of gold liquid. “I’m right on the edge, man.” Bob ran his fingers through his hair. It was greasy and wet.

A woman gave Bill a crossed look and began making snide coughing sounds in his direction. Bill sucked in on his cigarette until the ember burned bright on the end, then exhaled a thick cloud in her direction. “Excuse me, miss. Could you not sit so close to me with that cough of yours? I’m trying to stay healthy here, k? K.” The woman left her seat with a snort.

“I got laid off last week,” Bob said, taking his second beer from the bartender’s hand before the glass touched the wood. “Our savings is already blown to shit to begin with. Me and the wife have been at our fucking throats lately, I don’t even know why anymore. Money I guess.” He slammed the pint down in a frenzied gulp. “My kid keeps riding me about college, he wants to go to college, his friends are going to college, and I fuckin’ want him to go but I don’t have the damn money man! And he doesn’t have the grades.”

Bill took a sip of his drink and pointed his cigarette at Bob. “Life doesn’t come from your bank account, Bob. It doesn’t matter, man. It’s just a ride.”

Bob looked up at the screen in time to see the Sox give up a two-run homer late in the sixth. He shook his head. “It’s like everything is just falling apart,” Bob said.

Bill took another puff and walked around the bar. When he approached he put his arm around Bob’s shoulder. “Listen, Bob, you’re taking life too seriously. You gotta understand that.”

“My life is falling apart, man!” Bob said. A few heads turned to see who it was with the shrieking voice.

“Bob, it’s just a ride and you have a choice to change it anytime you like.” Bob gave him an exasperated stare. Bill put out his cigarette and leaned in close. “Bob, I have seen a UFO split the sky like a sheet, emit orbs of light, and tell me that we are all one and there is no such thing as death. You wanna make a difference in your life? Right now? Choose. Choose between fear and love. Choose between swimming in that beer or telling your family how much you love them. Choose between the Red Sox or helping your son get into a vocational school. Either way, it doesn’t matter,” Bill said. He leaned back and slapped Bob on the shoulder. “Life is just a ride. Enjoy it. Don’t take it so seriously.”

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