Labor Day Blues
“It’s hard to find hope these days,” Gabby Bondra told the old man next to her at the bar.
“Ehh, it wasn’t ever to be found. Them bitches at the top got it all to themselves. They just like to sell us a little bit when we really can’t make do without. In the meantime, we get just drunk enough to forget.”
The two stared blankly at the great screen hanging on the wall before them. The red team was losing and to one guy, in a matching jersey, it was very important. They could hear that fellow on the verge of tears at the fate of his team like Hector, son of Priam.
“You know, I got fired today.” Justine told the old man.
“It’s labor day. People don’t get fired on Labor Day.” He lit a wretched generic cigarette.
“At least, I’m not everyone else then.”
“Here’s to that.” He raised his glass and the ice went “clink” and the liquor was gone.
“Get me two more. Make hers a double.”
The calm bar light eased her weary spirit long enough for it to walk away. The liquor in her chest burned away enough of the worry for her to remember to smile.”
“Is this how people become drunk?”
“It’s the only reason. I’ve seen many a fine man pack hope into a trash can of empty bottles.”
She sat in the high stool and smoked and enjoyed the intricacies of it. The paper crackled and smoke swirled into fan blades overhead.
“We’re doomed,” the red shirt guy moaned.
She did not want to think about her life but the alcohol was only strong enough to let her look at it without getting scared for the future.
“Why do bosses only think about money? They make decisions on numbers, forgetting that it’s people’s lives, hopes and dreams that they toy with.”
“They have to. I know this one fellow who ran a plant that made clothes. He threw a 4th picnic one year, had everyone show up with their families. He just wanted to do something to make the guys feel appreciated, part of something. At some point, this fellow looked at the group a hundred families with kids running around and parents chasing them from sharp sticks. He looked at them and saw that he was responsible for three meals and a roof for all of these people. He told me he couldn’t take another step after that. So he walked away from the plant he had built up and ran for 25 years.
“I bet he was a good man.”
“One of the few left. Now he just takes care of his gardens.”
“Does that leave only the assholes running the show?”
“Makes you want to get drunker, doesn’t it?”
“I should go. I have a family of my own to get home to.”
“Take care of yourself.”
She stepped outside as the sun began to tuck the world in. The warm streets were embracing in the cool shadows of twilight. A bag lady was shuffling a cart down the street, muttering to the man who was not there, searching for something worth something. A haggard gentleman scrambled up to her and made her stop and turn around. His thrift store suit was tight across his chest and falling off his waist but he had a carnation in his buttonhole. In his hand, he had a clump of inpatients tied with twine.
Justine watched as he gave flowers to the bent up woman and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He turned around and skipped off toward the setting sun. The bag lady returned to her basket but kept staring the flowers as something worth something because they were given to her and they were pretty and Gabby walked home.