Avocado. Avocado with bacon and lettuce and turkey. On bread, naturally. This was Jillian’s Avocado BLT. Jillian was my sister. Only after seeing this on the Penny Coffee House’s menu did I grasp how tangible success really is.
“I’ll get Jillian’s Avocado BLT.”
“That’ll be $9.50.”
I walked out into the brisk air, I held my hunger like a child that I was readily trying to abandon. I spied the Ol’ Lady Luck Lounge across the street, the place where fat middle-aged women liked to test their luck on the VLT’s, but their luck ran out in the 80’s. No one has recorded how many dreams have died there but it was one of the more profitable soul stealers in Lethbridge, or as the teens called it “Deathbridge” (because we’re all angst filled little motherfuckers).
I walked across the street to take a peek inside the Ol’ Lady Luck Lounge. Now I wasn’t expecting great things, bear in mind it was noon on a Monday, and though I should have been at school I thought this would cheer me up, (in juxtaposition of course). I pushed open the door, with twinge of hesitance. It was dark with heavy air; I found it hard to breathe, as if the non-smoking sign was for show.
The wooden countertop was cracked in various places. The green felt of the pool table in the corner had faded to gray. What caught me by surprise was the crowd that wasted themselves within the confines of these walls.
There were droves of women and men alike, pulling back levers that would reveal their futures. If you looked closely you could see their souls draining through their eyes, and replacement fuel being lighted every time three cherries came across the screen, only to be burned again. It was like watching cigarette butts being put out, cigarettes with defiant flame.
There was a single man at the bar, I figured he would be my best chance at human contact and perhaps I wouldn’t feel like leaping from the high-level bridge shortly afterwards. I sat down beside him and ordered a beer.
“So what’s your name?”
I find that every time a conversation at the bar is sparked I always expect the names to be Killer Jim, Smoky Joe, or something like Prison Mike, but he was Rick, and I figured I’d settle for that. Rick had glasses, and a failed moustache. He was wearing a corduroy jacket that looked second-hand or just weary from years of shielding Rick from the misfortunes of the world.
“What your name?”
“Nice to meet you, John.” Rick was polite, thus I liked Rick.
“Got any plans for the day, Rick?”
“I think I’m going to kill myself.”
At this point I had gotten quite emotionally attached to Rick, and Rick kicking the bucket would really take the wind out of my sails.
“Why would ya do that, Rick?” He stayed silent for a few moments.
“I can’t stand existing just to fail. Day in day out I get up and am forced to abandon living to work 9-5 to eventually spend all I have sending my daughter to university. Then twenty years later I get fired, they had the nerve to fire me, after twenty Rick had adopted a melancholy tone that was unlike the old Rick I had known some twenty minutes ago.
“Listen Rick, how bout I flip a coin, heads you kill yourself, tails you live at least another week, see how she treats ya. What do ya say?”
“Okay Rick, ya crazy sunnovabitch here we go!”
What Rick didn’t realize is that I had bought a double-sided coin earlier that week at the local magic store. How ingenious! What I didn’t realize at the time is that both sides were heads, and I don’t want to say this is the worst mistake I’ve ever made, but it’s definitely up there.
I flipped the coin, unaware of what I had just done. The coin landed on heads.
I looked at Rick then back down at the coin.
“Now wait a sec-“
I was interrupting by the sound ofthe bullet from Rick’s colt 45, leaving the chamber and exiting through the back of his skull. The entire Lady Luck Lounge had stopped, had entered some alternate dimension where time doesn’t exist, and even if it did it would have stopped because Rick was the supreme ruler and ultimate entity. The patrons had stopped pulling for their triple cherries. They just sat there, slack-jawed. One slot machine kept on going. It hit seven, seven, cherry. No luck.
I had Rick all over me, his dreams, his failures. Silhouettes exposed by dim lighting were painted red and purple. The audio clip of the eventual call to his daughter played in my head. The company that laid him off and his daughter, might never know the part they played in Rick’s death, I thought I’d like to let them know.
The light in front of me was pulsating now, my innards pirouetting, both in rhythm with my heartbeat and the sharp ring Rick’s weapon had left in my ears. The way the TV in the background kept going, you would never know that a modern superman had just died. I’m sure it’s happened before, and it will again, like the sun setting behind the snow sprinkled coulees.
I stood up from my barstool, walked towards the exit. I headed out into the street to again meet the brisk air that awaited me. Outside nothing had changed, Rick had risen and fallen in chains, staring at the bottom of a rye and coke, and now fragments of his skull adorned the counter of the Lady Luck Lounge. I was covered in Rick, bloody pieces of Rick, decorated like a Christmas tree.
I figured I’d get Jillian’s Avocado BLT. I crossed the street and entered the Penny Coffee House, with $9.50 at the ready.
John Hunchak is an eighteen-year-old high school student residing in Lethbridge, Alberta. He will be attending the University of Alberta in the upcoming academic year and is committed to the university Golden Bears football team. He spends his free time with his wonderful girlfriend or three best friends, usually not doing much. They live in Southern Alberta, which in case you were not aware, is a barren wasteland devoid of happiness. He is also the drummer in the local Lethbridge band Lucy for President. He pursued professional Pillow Polo until he found out that it’s not even a thing. His favorite song is “It’s Tricky” performed by Run DMC. His personal web site is @LeChak44.