Thin threads of smoke drift up out of ashtrays where dormant cigarettes rest for the night. The background noise fills the empty space around our corner table. Sports news, hushed conversations, and course laughter--how else would a dive like this sound an hour before closing on a Tuesday night?
It's just the two of us, now. Been that way for thirty minutes or so, and in that time we haven't said a word to each other. We've just sat with the silence of the background noise and smell of old, musty wood and dark places.
"You're no good for me," I say.
"You don't speak for a half an hour and that's the first thing out of your mouth?"
"I've been thinkin' it for that long."
"Nice of you to finally come out and say it."
I clench my teeth and try not to think too much. It doesn't become me. At least, that's what my wife used to say. She's the one that drove me to this whole affair. And when you look at it that way, it makes it even worse.
"I don't want to do this anymore. I can't do this anymore."
"This," I say, waving my hand around the bar. The movement makes me dizzy, but I collect myself. "All this. It's a Tuesday night. What time is it?"
"Time for you to get another drink and shut the hell up."
A wave of anger washes over me. "Me? This is all your fault! All of it! First my wife, then the house, and now my job! If somebody should shut up it should be you!"
"Please. You're a big boy. You made all your own choices. Don't try to blame me now. It's a little late for that, isn't it, genius?"
"It's over. This is the last time."
"That's what you said last night. And the night before that. And last week. But you just can't get enough, can you?"
"This time I mean it," I say. The anger's gone, but the shame has set in. "This time I mean it."
"Sure you do."
The scales tip. "I hate you! You know that? I hate the sight of you! I can't stand your smell! You're a filthy, good-for-nothing whore and I hate that I'm here with you right now! You ruined my life!"
"You ruined your own life."
And that's the truth of it. I can't place the blame somewhere else. It'd be easier if I could. Real simple. But the fact is Guilt's the thing staring me in the face. It is my fault. All of it is my fault.
"Yeah. You're right."
I push my chair back away from the table and stand.
"Where do you think you're going?"
I don't bother to respond. Instead, I turn around and start walking toward the door.
"Hey! You just gonna leave me here? That's it? You're a coward! You are a worthless piece of flesh that nobody wants and nobody ever will! You'll be back! You hear me? You'll be back just like all the others!"
I don't bother to look back. It's over. It has to be. This time for real. I'll do whatever I have to. I'm not coming back to this place. I refuse to let it take hold again. I refuse to pick her up again.
It's not who I am meant to be.