[The Chain, 1,111 words, Genre: Realistic Fiction]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Edward would normally drink alone. Tonight was an exception. He sat at the bar, staring straight ahead at the bottles lined up in a row along the back. So many different spirits, he could really make a mess of the place if he had the money to do so. Why the exception? His grandmother had finally let her tongue loose on his parent’s relationship. Or rather their shattered relationship that ended in a divorce. He had gone throughout his life feeling the scars of misery sewn into every romantic endeavour he undertook, but had never had any adult perspective on the situation until now. It had let the Tetris blocks fall into place and delete a line or two, right at the foundations. He was grateful for it, though could see that these were not the only miseries his life had accumulated. Still, he was grateful for the rows being wiped clean. The game of Tetris had long ago been claimed as a game over situation. This clearing, no matter how temporary, allowed him to play the game once more. He called the bartender over, it wasn’t that busy, so he decided to ask them to play a song. “Hey, you got access to the internet?”
“Yeah, why?” The bartender asked.
“If you play ‘the chain’ by Fleetwood Mac on repeat for a while, there’s a ten dollar tip in it for you.”
The bartender thought about it for a second, “Sure, we’re going to close up soon anyway, it’d clear the place out without any hassles.” When Edward looked at his watch he saw the time, it had been a long night and he had been drinking for a long time. He then accounted for the slur in his speech and the four hours he had been drinking rum and cokes, in succession, without talking to anyone except the bartender when he placed his order. The bartender went over to the laptop and organised for the song to be played.
“And another one, please.” Edward motioned to his empty glass. The bartender came over and fixed him up. The song started playing and Edward tapped his feet to the beat. He mimed the words and continued to stare at the bottles that lined the back shelf.
After the song had finished playing for the first time a woman came up to the bar, she was full buxomed, brunette, in arse tight jeans. She turned to Edward, “Cool song, an oldie, but still cool. What’s it called?”
“The chain, by Fleetwood Mac.” Edward answered.
“Eh, never heard of ‘em. What’s it about? How’s about buying a lady a drink?” She muddled up her questions which caused some confusion.
Edward sat there, thinking about something, calculating what he would say and then delivered his answer, “Well, with recently received information, if I bought you a drink it would open up some sort of courtship process. And trust me, you don’t want that. You see, sitting here, listening to this song I’ve recently come into a new understanding of the courtship process. You see, all of us have experienced the romantic comedy in films, we’ve seen the same plot hashed out in a million different ways. So we all have that experience to draw on, that wealth of knowledge that delivers the happy ending to a relationship. It’s what we all try and achieve, but when we try and achieve it our lives become a comical farce of misery and despair. The good thing is the first couple of weeks, the first few months, sometimes even longer, isn’t that bad. So we can maintain a sort of temporary happiness or bliss. But that happiness or bliss turns to shit and misery, hatred, betrayal and darkness. Because after drawing on the fallacy of the romantic comedy, all we’ve got left is our real life experiences. Did you know about forty percent of all marriages in Australia in divorce? Do you know what that means? It means a lot of children with a fucked up conception of what constitutes a healthy relationship, or who have a poor model to build their own experiences upon. My own father was working on his long term career goals, whilst my mother built her own career. My father was an artist, my mother envied his work. My mother provided for the family, my father helped out and was supported at the same time. My father chased my mother around as she built her career around the country and the world, my father would be absent for long periods working on his art. They both had their own career objectives. They raised three children. The strain of two careers and three children chipped away at their souls. Did you know some Rockerfeller or banker, or someone, promoted equal rights for women just so they could equally tax the two? Mixed agendas… certainly… Equal rights are great, but it laid a bare waste to the family unit. My family was a casualty. Not that my parents didn’t have their problems. The stress made them beat each other senseless. Emotionally, I mean. Not exactly anything that I can use for the building blocks of a healthy relationship. Someone made a lot of cash from the tax, whoever it was. That’s not my point, my point is, now I have nothing to draw upon to create that happy relationship. It’s all fucked up. You don’t want to start anything with me, my value system is all fucked. And how do I break this chain of events the world has thrown at me for my children and children’s children? That is, if I ever have any. I don’t know. Who do I blame? The system? My parents? No, I take the spiritual approach and believe that I chose this life. While existing in the spirit realm I chose to live this life rather than not live this life.” Edward leaned in closer to the brunette, “That’s how fucked it all is! They got me believing in a spirit realm so that I can take responsibility for my life and don’t rock the boat too much.” What else could you say? Edward had been drinking for four hours consecutively.
“I asked for a drink, not a diatribe.” The brunette turned around and walked away. Edward was not sure if she understood.
The bartender looked at Edward from across the bar, he had obviously been listening in, Edward responded, “What? That’s kind of what the song is about. Besides, I couldn’t afford to buy myself and her another drink.” The game of Tetris had been in play for a single moment, it was game over again.