TONGUE | from Roomers #62

1978, a birthday party. One of those once in a blue moon family dos where a local hall gets hired, there’s catering, a DJ. The adults end up drunk and misty. Someone overdoes it, creates a spectacle. There’s a fight. No blood’s spilled, but there’s harsh words, someone gets upset, there’s tears and the gin gets blamed. And so on. That kind of a night. I spent most of it watching Tommy and trying to pretend otherwise. I’d always thought of me and him as the same age, nearly, but since the last time he’d become old enough to drink … Continue reading TONGUE | from Roomers #62

Front of the house

Look at him working. The way he smiles at every customer. He’s impeccable. But when he goes to his room at the back, at the side of the kitchen, the smile is gone. He sips clear liquor from a teacup, swears under his breath, and watches everything through the small glass in the door. When he sees a new customer, he’s out to greet them, bounding over, showing them to a table. Then as he bows slightly, moving away, he nods to a waiter to bring menus, water. He returns to his room, sits down, stares through the glass, sips … Continue reading Front of the house

Gin and It

Gin drains her glass, and winces. ‘That was too sweet,’ she says. He’s standing an arm’s length away, polishing the bar. ‘You were smacking your lips earlier,’ he says. ‘Well I’m not smacking them now,’ she says. ‘You mixed it too sweet.’ ‘I always mix it the same,’ he says. He moves further down the bar. ‘Miserable old drunk,’ he says under his breath, but not low enough, and she catches a word. She raises her glass then bangs it down. He gives her a look. There are hundreds of bottles in front of her, so shiny and soothing, the … Continue reading Gin and It