BY MEG TUITE
The waitress plucked at her dollhouse features in the bathroom mirror. I was tempted to camp out in one of the stalls. Instead, I straightened my sunken shoulders and studied my strawberry tree hair. It was iron-red and stiff as a portrait. The waitress sniffed her middle finger, smiled at me, and sashayed out.
The sports bar stench of burnt brain cells and stale beer tackled the thick smoke as I walked toward my father. He was slumped in a booth, poured into his dollar store jeans, unable to surrender to his declining choices and torn curtain of a past. His shiny face was a milk pool of Jack Daniels he’d sucked down through the decades that now snaked out of his cavernous pores.
The waitress pulled at her bra and stumbled over with a tray of forgotten nights. My Dad and the waitress snorted and threw back a shot. She was another in a long line of tired notes my Dad needed to strum. He always cried when he was drunk that he needed me. I figured out why as I slapped my wired hair against my skull and slugged back a beer. I was there to string all those painted smiles into some kind of demented tune.
Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in over 40 magazines and journals including 34th Parallel, One, the Journal, Sententia Magazine and SLAB Magazine. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Reviewand Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Her fiction collection “Domestic Apparition” is forthcoming in early 2011 through San Francisco Bay Press.