The band was loud. Paul leaned over the bar and ordered his usual dirty martini. As the bartender turned away to make the drink, Paul turned to look over the crowd. He spotted Janice, she never missed a Clawing Maul gig. She was the lead guitar player’s wife or girlfriend. He had never asked. He waved. She waved back. She was a large woman to begin with and the pregnancy had blown her up more. Paul turned to get his drink and ordered a sparkling water for Janice. She was a real sweetheart. Never a word of complaint, much less an unkind one. The only woman Paul had ever met that he could say always had a genuine smile. Nothing artificial or forced. He paid for the drinks, and started to knife his way through the crowd.
“Hey.” Paul greeted her.
“Hey. Sit down. It’s been a while."
“Yea, I missed the last couple of times the Maul played. Here I got you a sparkler.” He placed the water in front of her.
She looked up with that engaging smile as he took a seat. “Forget that. It’s time for one of those.” She pointed at his martini.
BY DOUG VAN HOOSER
BY E. M. EASTICK
BY J. D. GRAVES
As If Hell Were A Real Place
Michael Patrick Welch / McSweeney's
New Orleans / Ryan Thomas / Flickr
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