Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prologue: The Future

The bar was full of the haze of cigar smoke, the smell of cigar was heavy in the air and accented by stale, spilled beer. The seat on which Aloysius sat was uncomfortable, the padding long squashed flat by an army of drunks before him.

He shifted again, the tenth time in as many minutes. The wait was itself uncomfortable, never mind the seat.

Someone dropped money into an jukebox across the room. Instead of warming to life, lighting up with bent neon tubes, the speakers crackled and hissed, and suddenly Aerosmith’s “Crazy” was ricocheting off the walls. It was earsplitting and it wasn’t making the wait any easier.

Aloysious knew he was in the right spot, could feel it. He'd already downed two Red’s -- Brewed in the Heart of Saskatchewan! the label touted -- and the third sat in front of him. He’d insisted that the bartender just leave it in the can. The “I like it that way,” explanation seemed enough. But Aloysious could tell from the bartender’s expression and sudden silence that he had Aloysious pegged as someone who wanted to get drunk fast and for not much money.

The change from the $10 bill sat in front of Aloysious. Three beers for under $10. That was the magic of Red. It was cheap and loaded with alcohol.

Aloysious glanced over his shoulder. A couple of biker types playing pool, two grizzled ladies of the evening crowded into a booth by the door not saying anything to each other, and a smattering of single guys, empty shot glasses lined up like some kind of glassware firing squad. Aerosmith was still raging. Aloysious looked down at the can then let his eyes slide toward the change.

He didn’t want to to acknowledge that he saw it but he had to admit it. The coins were vibrating, just ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly.

He scratched his beard, extended the scratch to the back of his neck. The coins were very visibly vibrating on the bar.

Whatever was about to happen, the thing he knew was going to happen, the thing that brought him here to this time, this place, this corner of Alberta, was just about to smash through a wall. Or possibly tear off the roof and reach into the bar to snack on a pickled patron.

He lifted the third can of Red to his lips.

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