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"A Man Walks Into A Bar" by Áine Vane


i

… with dirt twixt his teeth. 

I give him a once over 

pour him a gin and tonic. 

He asks for a triple. I make him a double. 

Last shot’s mine. 

I ask if he knows how it got there. 

The dirt, mate. 

He isn’t sure he remembers. 

He worries its been thur’

as long as he’s had teeth.

Holds his glass in his left

feg in his right 

looks at peace. 

Makes me want to scream.

 

ii

… smelling smoke. 

There's a symptom of a stroke, so. 

Aye. Depends. How long has this been 

allowed to go on for? 

Hm. Fair. 

I look at him closer to see

a bullet hole in his coat. Just 

a little above his heart. 

Wallet, he says. I nod 

as though this is a logical thing 

to happen to a man like him. 

His skin is burnt to a crisp. 

 

iii

… dressed head to toe in green. 

I’ve never fared well with his kind. 

Too nauseating. They’re like smoke, they are, 

I tell ye nai. Can’t trust a man like that.

Can’t hold him in yer hands long.

But he’s not here for me to trust him. 

He wants wine.  

I mean really, who orders red wine in a bar like this?

His left hand twitches when I hand him 

the glass. He manoeuvres himself awkwardly

to take it in his right instead

and the bar feels distinctly too 

small with him in it. 

Stroke, says I. 

Nerve damage, he says. 

Mortars?

I wish.

 

iv

… and I think that he has 

finally been domesticated. Or at least 

he's learning. Learning how to sit still 

and say please and thank you and 

pull his punches. Learning that 

I won’t pull mine. 

He politely pushes me from the bar 

and pulls - with shocking ease -  

a perfect Guinness 

from these unruly taps

asks (he’s getting better at asking) me to try it. 

Sobs like a baby when I do. 

I ruffle his hair 

and drive him home.

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