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He emerged from his thoughts as the bartender returned with his drink. Gabriel thanked him and laid six crisp dollar bills on the counter. He chuckled to himself. There was a time when he counted change to buy a drink at the bar. Now look at him. He closed his eyes and pressed his lips to the rim of the glass. Another hour to himself wouldn’t deepen the hurt that they’d already endured for the past year. After a while it would be hard to tell one pain from the other. Especially when he couldn’t feel anymore.

Gabriel was on his fourth…fifth…hell, he forgot what number drink. All he knew was that he didn’t feel much better than before. The bartender gave him the that—pity the poor fool—look. But in his cheap whiskey induced haze he mistook it for fuck-me eyes. He grabbed his lighter and readied himself for another cigarette. Sorry, I don’t roll that way compadre. He pulled the nicotine stick from its pack and slipped it between his lips. Flicking his lighter once, twice, three times, but nothing sparked. He tried once more—still nothing. Shit! He called to the bartender again.

“Hey, you happen to have a light?”

“Sure, just a sec.” The man reached under the counter, produced a small blue lighter, and lit Gabriel’s cigarette.

“Thanks,” he replied, relaxing as he inhaled the nicotine and exhaled a thin stream of smoke into the air.

“No problem.”

Gabriel lifted his glass.



The bartender nodded as he set a fresh drink on the counter. Gabriel reached for his glass, but a familiar pressure hit below his belt. He strode to the restroom all but oblivious to the noisy after five crowd filtering into the bar. On his way back, he noticed a flash of lightning outside the tavern’s front window. The rain was coming down hard. He wouldn’t enjoy going home in that shit. His mood dipped.