“Tread not too long on dis ‘ere parts,” the wizened southern doorman told me as I entered the bar. “A doorman for a bar. Weird,” my mind unconsciously tells me. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. I look towards the right and I see the glasses being hung… but they are upside down. “Gravity normally pulls them down, meaning that they have to fall. Or is it that they are held up by their form?” goes my mind again. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego.
I walk to the grey bartender, his yellow baseball cap covered in dust. “A stout please,” I say nonchalantly. He stares at me with eyes weary, almost a glare. “We don’t ‘ave stouts ‘ere,” grumbles the bartender, spittle flying out as he enunciates the incorrect variations of “have” and “here”. “This bar looks modern; it’s in the middle of a city. So why does he also have a southern accent?” my mind quickly tells me. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. “I’ll have a beer,” my mouth says but is actually looking for water. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego.
The bartender shrugs, his eyes turning away from me. He gets a normal glass, and my eyes see for a second a flash of fear in his face. He drops it, hoping no one will notice and his countenance returns to its lazy self. Grabbing a pewter mug, characterized by whitish stains of dried water and odd marks of darker grey showing its age, he places it under the spout of the keg. My ears hear the “swish” of the keg, and in response, my eyebrows stiffen. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego, interrupted by the sound of the mug dropping on to the ebony counter. My hand grabs the mug, a bit of beer flowing over and dousing it. “Cold,” says my hand. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego.
My legs move to the tables in the poorly-lit bar. My eyes see a Caucasian man with brown hair and an Ottoman mustache in a white suit sitting at a mahogany table covered in scratches. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. My eyes look away to avert conflict. The man stands, tall and stocky. I see him fingering a knife, a jungle knife. “I came straight from the war-torn jungles of Vietnam to this bar, kid. And I see you eye-balling me. I hate being eye-balled, you know that?” he tells me, full of impertinence. My mouth says in reply, “My mind wouldn’t know, he says his amygdala has not met you before. That and also the fact that he knows that the Vietnam War was over around fifty years ago.” “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. The “war veteran” looks at me, analyzing. Wrinkles form on top of his nose bridge. “I hate kids like you. Thinking you’re so smart,” he says in a low voice. “I don’t think I’m smart. My mind is the one that actually thinks it’s smart,” my mouth replies again. “What are you, some sort of freak?” he shouts and brings out his knife. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. But my bodily functions cannot keep the command of my ego; my hands begin to tremble (beer spilling even more), my face looks away, my mouth starts mumbling “My-I didn’t mean to be a freak. I-I’m sorry.”
“Lloyd, cut that out! ‘E’s a kid for chrissakes! Don’t go around scaring ‘im with yer Vietnam nonsense!” my ears pick this up as the bartender shouts in anger. My eyes look at the old man, veins popping out of his neck, my mind tells me amidst my crisis “Lloyd, that’s his name.” Lloyd looks around him and notices that no one else is paying attention to him. My mind is led to believe that my ears picked up a sigh, but no signal caught by my eyes could verify this. So my eyes move to Lloyd and see his cracked lips moving, showing the yellow teeth behind them. “Kid, I’m sorry. I’m a thespian so I act these things out even in real life. I’m a frustrated actor, one that can’t get a job,” he says, defeated, in his gruff voice. My mouth begins to say “It’s alright-” but is then interrupted by my mind’s beckoning of “Compliment him! Compliment him!” “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. So I don’t say a word after.
“You were saying?” he tells me in a query-state of voice. “Nothing, I was finished,” my mouth says. Evidently not, because he looked at me in a sort of inquisitive way, an eyebrow cocked up. “It’s my moustache, ain’t it? Come on, sit down with me and drink your beer,” he tells me, invitingly. My arm automatically grabs the chair beside me and my legs begin to bend. He sits, tilting the chair back so my eyes have a great view of the hairy entrance to his nose. His moustache. “It’s irritating me. Goddamnit,” my mind tells me. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. My mouth begins to move, “It’s not your mustache, it looks normal. Dignified.”
“You’re just saying that! Everybody looks at me in a weird way!” he tells me animatedly, my eyes can see the veins of his neck popping out. They then turn to a lady passing by, a fat lady wearing the head of a bear. “Weird. It’s not Halloween,” my mind says. “Weird. It’s not Halloween,” my mouth says. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. But too late, he replies, “Who?” Lloyd turns and sees the lady. “Ahhh, she’s some fashion expert. Wearing the latest trends, ehhh, what’s your name kid?” My eyes move toward him. “Mother always told us not to speak to strangers,” my mind reminds me. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. “Well, she looks pretty normal. And my name… It’s Jack,” my mouth vocalizes. He turns quickly to face me, his eyes in disbelief. “Normal? You said it was weird, Jack,” he tells me in a hushed tone. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego.
My eyes notice the light, the purples and greens of the bar. My nose smells the stale beer emanating from the mahogany table. My ears hear the faint buzzing of old chatter, weak and hopeless, like the speakers themselves. My hands feel the moist wood, the wood that will, in less than a year’s time, decay. And my mouth begins to speak. “If she’s doing it, then she must be normal. No use being weird.” Lloyd looks speechless, grasping for words. “This… This coming from a kid that’s dressed up so fancy for a shithole like this? Look at you, dressed up in a suit with-with-what is that-suede patches on the elbows?” he tells me slowly, as if he were picking the words up like dried twigs. “Quiet down. I have to act normal,” says my ego. “Where I come from, everyone dresses up like this,” my mouth explains to him.
“Jack, you’re not made for this place.”
“That’s what they told us in the library. We spoke too much and we dressed too raggedly.”