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Paul Corman-Roberts
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thepointafter1.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2009

The Point After

 

Paul Corman-Roberts

 

 

Jefferson rolls into the 7-11, Mel at the till; always Mel on Friday night. Sitting beneath lamp warmers and convenience store fluorescents, chicken in the night remains the only salvation possible for Jefferson when the Point After Bar & Grill closes at 2 AM. 

 

“Hi, honey.”

 

“Hey, baby.”

 

“Usual?”

 

“Fuckin’ A.”

 

Jefferson ever so carefully takes the breaded chicken sandwich out of its thin, foil wrapper. He removes the top bun off the meat.  He applies one sporkful of relish, another of onions, a plastic knife dash of mustard, and four and a half pumps off the mayo-ranch spigot. He places the bun back on top of the drenched, breaded meat. He mashes it down gently to make sure there is spillover from the bun. Then he delicately places the sandwich back in the thin foil wrapper.

 

Jefferson, his sandwich wrapper on the counter, goes to pour himself a full tank of Pepsi, and then returns to Mel’s big, shit-eating grin.

 

“Big night at the P.A.?”

 

“Nah.  No game tonight.”

 

“Get yer bad self up next to any alley cats?”

 

“C’mon, Mel.”

 

“You’re still the king, Jeff. Ain’t nobody run the poontang gauntlet at the Point After like you, my man.  Boy, I remember some nights you’d come in here . . .” How does Mel remember all this shit?  Jefferson isn’t even sure how long it’s been since the last time he “ran the gauntlet.” How long have they been here? Doing this same shit?

 

Walking back to his apartment, taking that first deep, juicy breaded bite of his chicken sandwich, washed down by that first sweep of confectionary sweet carbonated “maple syrup”, Jefferson finds he remembers some. 

 

He passes beneath the mini-balcony of the apartment where he impregnated that gorgeous piece; can never remember which one he knocked up, the mother or the daughter. He remembers getting with the daughter; she was the first one he cheated on his first (and third) wife with. He’s pretty sure the mom was just before wife number two. Boy, he still wonders how the dad never found out about the abortion.

 

He passes by the ground floor apartment of his long time “gilffriend,” whom he balled fairly steadily between wives two and four. He wonders where Janet has gone these days. He can’t remember why she left. It bothers him vaguely that he can’t even remember her leaving. She always seemed so happy here down at the Sierra Arms.

 

Just before getting to the door of his own place, he begins thinking he should start putting the light outside his apartment on, even though the thought of it running up his bill drives him into a distracted frenzy.  But he misses the old days when coming back from the Point After Bar and Grill meant the lights would be on, and he had roommates, and his roommates had girlfriends, and there was always a bong going around, or someone had the new Depeche Mode or New Order record to check out, which was always so weird and tended to attract more young girlfriends. ‘Course, Jefferson was a Tom Petty man when the girls weren’t around.

 

Now the lights in his place are always off. When he comes home from the Point After, no one’s around anymore. Like with Janet, he has a hard time remembering when exactly they all left.

 

He fumbles for his keys for the six thousand seven-hundred and ninety-first time. Instead of pulling them up this time though, he suddenly drops his size 40 butt first down onto the stoop just outside his door, and a noise somewhere between a sob and sigh frees itself from his well- fueled torso. He sits quietly in the dark and finishes his chicken in the night.

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of the poetry and flash collections necom (muter) (Tainted Coffee Press, 2009) and Coming WorldGone World. (Howling Dog Press, 2006)  His short story, "The Deathbed Confession of Christopher Walken" will appear in the forthcoming issue of subTerrain Magazine.  More info at www.paulcormanroberts.com

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