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Carryout: Fiction by Daniel C. Bartlett
Out of Gas: Fiction by Ron Capshaw
A Good Book: Fiction by Robert Pettus
Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
Blocks: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Nobody Puts Liza in the Closet: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
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A Pinch Point: Poem by Janna Rollins
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Hard Work Damned on the Road to Extinction: Poem by Richelle Lee Slota
The Lonely Planet Guide to Death: Poem by Richelle Lee Slota
my mind: Poem by Meg Baird
the non: Poem by Meg Baird
giant cottonwood tree: Poem by Judith Nielsen
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crows in our hayloft: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
spring kicks off its boots: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
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A Reason to Put the Rent Up: Poem by Richard LeDue
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Pamela Ebel: Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar

93_ym_happyhour_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2022

Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar

By

Pamela Ebel

“Do you need some ice?”

Cliff Simms leaned over the bar and held a scoop of ice cubes out to Robin Carter, who sat staring at her glass of Old Overholt on the rocks.

“No thanks Cliff. I have enough ice to smooth the rye a bit.” She smiled and held the glass up. “See?”

“I didn’t mean ice for your drink. It might help with the…” He reached his hand toward the egg sized bruise on Robin’s cheek that wasn’t quite hidden by her auburn hair. She backed away with a flinch and Cliff pulled his hand back quickly.

“It’s okay Cliff. I’ll put some ice on it when I get home. Thanks for the thought though.”

The clock on the wall behind the bar came to life suddenly as an ancient Cuckoo appeared and announced that it was 4:00 p.m. Across the room a sign in the window lit up in red, white and blue neon with a flashing message that “It’s Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar.”

There was a loud cheer from the crowd standing at the other end of the bar room. Sticks and balls were flying around the pool table and the sticks and balls attached to the men in their red ball caps grew larger every time another round of drinks appeared.

“You got him Slim!”

“Yeah, Slim go ahead and sink the 8 ball so we can start on the Happy Hour specials.”

More laughing and comments and then, total silence as the man leaning over the pool table called the pocket and the 8 ball rolled down the table and disappeared. Then a great cheer as the tall man slapped the back of his losing competitor and took three hundred-dollar bills off the rail.

“First Happy Hour Round is on me, Cliff!”

Jeff Slim Carter emerged from the sea of red ball caps, pulling his off to smooth a thick mane of black hair. He looked down the bar at Robin who had turned her attention back to her drink.

“Be sure to give my wife a fresh drink too. Maybe it will improve her mood. What do you think, Robin?”

He moved to her side and yanked Robin’s shoulder toward him.

“You need to fix your hair better. That little bruise is showing. Wouldn’t want the gang to get the wrong idea.”

Robin winced as Slim pushed his fingers into her shoulder.

Cliff appeared with a fresh rye on the rocks, even though she had barely touched the first one, and a bourbon and coke for Slim, who smiled broadly as the front door opened.

 “Just the man I’ve been waiting for. Derek, how you been? Cliff, get Derek whatever he wants. Do you have something for me?”

“Sure, do Slim. Right here!” Derek handed over a small paper bag.

“My Happy Hour Pills! Robin, put this bag in your purse. Derek, we can all go over to Carol’s. She’s having her usual Friday Open House and there is always plenty of booze and new faces, if you know what I mean. Robin here, usually just sits and nurses one drink all night. Maybe tonight you can do something besides sit like a stump!”

Slim pushed Robin’s shoulder sharply, causing her to slip off the bar stool. The two men laughed as she struggled to get back up.

 “Let me do one thing and then we can leave. I got a hundred-dollar bill here says I can clear the table in under two minutes. Any takers?”

One of the men stepped up and placed two fifties on the rail and everyone made a space for Slim. He picked a cue stick and then let the challenger break the balls. With a timer selected everyone grew quiet, all eyes on the table.

 Everyone, including, Cliff was looking at Slim or staring at watches. Everyone except Robin. Suddenly a cheer went up as the pool table was cleared in a minute and thirty seconds.

Another round of Happy Hour Drinks was ordered and Slim downed another bourbon and coke at the pool table. Returning to where Robin sat, he pulled the paper bag out of her purse, placed it in his jacket pocket and downed his remaining bourbon and coke.

“Time to go to Carol’s. Get your coat.”

“I don’t feel well. I want to go home, please. You can just drop me off and then go on over.”

“Taking you home is going to take me twenty minutes out of the way. Either come with me to Carol’s or find you own way home.” He grew loud and sneered at her.

“Alright, I’ll get a taxi. I just don’t feel well. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, you’ll be really sorry later tonight, Bitch. But I need to get going. I’ll see you guys in a while.”

 He saluted the sea of red ball caps, shot Robin one more threatening sneer and went out the door.

She heard his Harley fire up and watched through the window as he screeched out of the parking lot. She turned back just as the bartender picked up Slim’s empty glass, rinsed it out and placed it in the dishwasher.

“I am going to the Ladies Room, Cliff. Back in a moment.”

Robin walked down the hallway to the bathroom and looked backed to see that no one else was coming. She entered and locked the door behind her. Inside the stall she took out a tissue containing two empty pill capsules, dropped it into the toilet, pushed the handle and watched as it swirled rapidly downward and disappeared.

Back at her seat at the bar Robin looked at the clock again as Cliff offered to give her a ride home.

“In twenty minutes, it will be 6:00 p.m. and another Happy Hour will be over for another Friday night and my shift will be over, too. I would be glad to give you a ride and spare you the cost of a taxi.”

“Thanks Cliff. That would be great!”

 The next Friday Robin entered the bar just as the Cuckoo made his appearance and announced it was 4 p.m. The red, white and blue neon sign blinked to life indicating that it was once again Friday night “It’s Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar.”

The room grew silent as the pool players and their audience of red ball caps stared at her. Finally, one man stepped out, removed his cap and offered her the group’s condolences for the death of her husband.

The paper had reported that on Friday evening a week ago, Jeff Slim Carter had lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into Tillman’s Gorge dying instantly. An autopsy report indicated that he had ingested a lethal dose of barbiturates along with alcohol a half hour or so before the accident, causing him to lose consciousness. The police traced his movements to a local bar, where the bartender confirmed that he had consumed four bourbon and cokes before leaving. The article noted that his wife did not leave with her husband because she was ill. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Robin pulled Slim’s red ball cap out of her purse and handed it to the man. Then she took out a hundred-dollar bill and placed it on the bar.

“I know Slim would have wanted his cap retired here and I know he would want to leave you with good memories. So, Cliff, please give a Happy Hour round to the house in honor of my husband.”

Everyone cheered and raced to place their order. The man who had accepted the ball cap hung it high on the cue rack and everyone toasted Jeff Slim Carter.

Cliff gave Robin her rye on rocks. She took a couple of sips and looked at the Cuckoo Clock.

“I have to get going. I have a pot roast in the oven and I don’t want it to burn.”

She stood, raised her glass to the red ball cap hanging on the cue rack, took a quick sip of rye, set it on the bar and walked to the front door, taking one more look at the neon sign announcing “It’s Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar.”

Cliff called out, “Pot Roast is my favorite.”

“I know. I’ll see you about 6:30.”

Then Robin opened the door and disappeared into the night.

 

Pamela Ebel has been published in Shotgun Honey, The BOULD AWARDS 2020 Anthology, as well other venues. Her poetry has appeared in the Delta Poetry Review. A native of California, she now concentrates on tales from her original home state and tales from the highways of the South. She also knows, like the Ancient Greeks and the Irish, that as a southern writer you can’t outrun your blood.

She has turned to writing full time as of 2020, obviously either perfect or bizarre timing, and this will be her fifth career. She lives in Metairie, Louisiana, with her husband and two cats.


Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern                                   Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/                                    

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022