God Didn’t Make Honky Tonk Angels

Angela glanced at the clock over the bar.  “Got three more hours before the end on my shift and the usual rousting of drunken patrons out the door.”  Thursday night is always a tune up for the weekend, some people start the weekend a little early unlike the other days earlier in the week when it’s mostly a drop in crowd.  The regulars are in their places as usual, nursing their drinks, occupying time and space and little more.  “Couple of college kids in the corner drinking beer, not old enough for anything harder but they keep asking.  Dumb ass kids, got their whole lives in front of them and look what they’re doing.  Wish I had the chance when I was younger, but look at me.  Yeah, look at them.  Out of those six kids, two will drop out and find minimum wage work, two will never amount to more than office workers, and the other two will find work out of town and have a nice life if they don’t screw it up.”

Angela, a blonde by unnatural measures, had learned that the tips were better than had she remained mousy brown.  A push up bra helped in that endeavor, too.  Men were such suckers.  “Say hon, you need a refill?”, she asked the man at the table where he was writing in a journal.  Smitty was his name and he had pretensions towards being a professional writer.  All he ever wrote were volumes of notebooks filled with supposed observations in a bar room amounting to little insight and excessive waste of ink and paper.  “We all have our faults, his is pretending to have talent.”  Angela knew her regulars and what to expect in the way of tips.  It is an unwritten law that one must tip the waitress, I mean the server for I forget that in these times one must be politically correct.  Neither man nor woman can live by minimum wage alone.  A couple of quarters, a dollar if a man wanted to show he was a big spender, all added up for the night and yet never amounted to much.  But this was a country bar, one in a small town out in the boondocks where the lights of the big city never shined.

Still, she was kept busy for it was Joline’s night off.  “Lord, this night isn’t passing quick enough to suit me.  Not that I want a rowdy crowd but I could use a bit more traffic.  I’m standing too much, want to keep moving.  Got to keep that minute hand moving round the clock.  Too much hurry up and wait.”  As if on cue, the door opened and three men came strolling in as if the night was still young and they were the entertainment.  “Good lord, strangers, where they’d come from?  Can’t say as I seen them before.  Howdy gents, what’s your pleasure?”  She had walked up to them about mid floor and was trying to usher them to a table.  Angela regretted her attempt almost immediately when one of the trio grabbed her by the waste and boomed out, “How about you, darling, and a couple of doubles on the side.”  She quickly disengaged his arm and tried to lead the way to a table a little more out of the way from the regulars.  Jim Bob, the man who had grabbed her by the waist, spoke again, “Let’s sit over here.”  He indicated the table next to Betty Lou, a sullen and drab brown haired woman about forty five and in the firm opinion that men were generally unruly, uncouth, and unwanted.  Tommy Daryl pulled out a chair and flung himself onto like a fool who expected the world to accommodate his rather large rotundness without complaint.  Billy Ray stood for a moment looking over the ensemble of patrons as if grading on a curve was a virtue before he set himself down.  One look at Billy Ray and one knew he was a twelve pack man.  While Jim Bob liked his Johnie Walker Red, Billy Ray was an arficinardo of the malt and hops that made popular but tasteless beer.  Tommy Daryl fancied himself a wine connoisseur as he ordered an Annie Green Springs for himself and would she bring the peanuts.

In answer to Billy Ray, “No, they didn’t have Coors on draft but they did have an unlimited supply of PBR and would he like the large mug?”  “That would be fine as long as it was cold and could I have some pretzels.”  Billy Ray liked the salt on pretzels as it accentuated the taste of the beer.  Jim Bob took every thing straight.  So Angela returned with the drinks and the eatables as requested.  Money was plunked down on the table and she was greatly surprised by the tip and appreciated their generosity.  Of course had she known their expectations she might have had reservations.  Still, a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.  Angela had a son at home and a mother who relied on her for her sustenance.   Married men were the curse of her life as it was for most of the women who inhabited bars such as this.

The trio had managed to relocate Betty Lou who was soon disposed to leave earlier than usual.  Angela would miss that extra quarter tip at the end of the night.  Smitty kept making furtive glances at the trio while writing quite busily in his journal.  As use to dissipation as Smitty had become, this trio offered new incites into the process.  The mugs of PBR were piling up and Annie Greensprings was headed for the multiple litres.  Jim Bob knew what Johnny Walker Red and the time wasn’t quite midnight.  The regulars were leaving a little early while looking a little more the weary for their efforts to stay the course.  John and Nancy decided that they did not need to dance to the sounds emanating from the jukebox and so left before their usual appointed time.  Comments from the peanut gallery, i.e. the trio not withstanding.  Angela knew she was the topic of conversation among the trio but didn’t bother listen, she had heard it so many times before.

Finally the clock on the wall said last call for alcohol.  The trio registered their last requirements with Angela.  Unfortunately that included an inducement to come to their hotel for apres’ imbibing seeing as they had visited the local liquor store for such an inducement.  “It wasn’t God who made honky tonk angels, it’s married men who think they are still single that cause many a good girl to go wrong.”  Angela’s response was perhaps, a bit jaded but never the less true.  She knew the truth of it first hand.

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