The Budweiser clock hanging just above the doorway leading into the kitchen read 4:18pm. The obnoxious sounds of the lottery machines could be heard over the equally obnoxious sounds coming from the ESPN channel on the big screen TV. Edgar sat at the far end of the bar spinning a beer coaster in circles. It was warped from hard use and cocktail condensation and it bowed in such a way that when spun it twirled just like a top. A minute ago he counted fourteen revolutions, it was his highest record yet.
"Goooooooooaaaaaaaal! Goooooooooaaaaaaaaal! Gooooooooooaaaaaaaal!" the announcer narrating the soccer match on TV bellowed. Manchester United had just scored on Liverpool. "Half the world has gone completely mad." Edgar thought to himself. And just then, as if his thoughts warranted special attention, the door to the dimly lit bar opened and a flood of outside light rushed in. It was as if he'd been drinking during an eclipse and suddenly the sun reappeared as the moon slid away clandestinely. Bright light, new and invigorating, filled up the place like a mother's love. Edgar could see the silhouette of an ogre standing in the doorway, strands of hair leaping from it's enormous outline haphazardly. Puffs of forced air shot forward from it's facial area and the bar immediately began to smell like a farm. The beast grunted and heaved and moved inside, the door closing behind it as darkness enveloped it while it stood there glaring at the bar. It seemed thirsty. "Well you came at the right time, Beast, happy hour starts at 4pm here." Edgar thought.
Uninterested, Edgar turned his attention back to his beer and coaster. He picked the coaster up and flipped it through his fingers a few times. He was thinking about the cute little thing who lived down in The Big State. She was a writer too, and she wrote in a unique way that captivated him, even while he slept. Often times he'd wake up, still drunk, and find himself thinking about the last thing she wrote. He had never met her before, but it felt like they'd known each other forever. If they lived in the same town she'd more than likely be sitting right next to him, spinning her own beer coaster, trying hard to beat fourteen. She was something special, they don't usually grow that well in this soil these days.
Just last week he had been at a poetry reading downtown, and after reading eight poems to a bohemian crowd of about thirty people, Edgar found himself getting blown in the bathroom by a goth girl whose poetry had been less than mediocre. Her father was all-American military and had forced his chain of command down her throat on more than one occasion. He moved her from base to base, state to state, completely wrecking her childhood and social development in the process. And there she was, a twenty-something girl trying to black over her existence, sucking a poet's cock in the bathroom of a small downtown dive on a Thursday night. In times like this all we can do is bring the bottle to our lips or the gun to our temple. She had reached for the gun.
"Hey bartender," Edgar asked, "can I get another beer and also a Tom Collins for the Beast sitting to my right?
As the bartender began to pour another Bud into a pint glass he turned his head and spoke over his shoulder, "Sorry Edge, we retired that drink about a year ago."
Glossed by curiosity, Edgar pondered for a moment before replying. "Let me get this straight, did you just say you retired a drink from your bar menu?"
"That's correct, my man. We officially stopped serving Tom Collins on March 13th of last year, when our own local Tom Collins, who used to be a regular here, passed away in a hunting accident. He was hunting bull elk near the Santiam River when he got shot in the back of the head by a stray bullet. I heard it opened up his face like a split fillet. Awful, just awful."
Edgar sat there processing all the information just given to him. "So you mean the entire situation is awful or your description of the story is? Because honestly, what the hell man?" He shook his head in awe and accepted the beer as it was handed to him. He glanced over at The Beast and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "I'm just as shocked as you are."
"We all miss him dearly. He was a joy to have around, until he started drinking, that is. Yeah ol' Tom C. was an absolute delight, yessir. Matter-of-fact he used to sit right there in that very seat you're sitting in. He'd order a Tom Collins two at a time and drink 'em all the way past nine. He was a walking cliche, that guy. But we loved him dearly, and when he died the owner decided to retire the drink. You know, like they do with the jersey number of a great athlete when he calls it quits. The owner is a real sports nut and he thought it was the right thing to do." The bartender started placing a rack of clean cups back into their spots as he contined, "So that's it, no more of either Tom Collins. It's as though two things died at once. Kinda strange, ain't it?"
Edgar looked over for a moment and then up at the bartender, "Yeah I suppose it is. So, do you have many white Russians living around here, and if so, have any of them died?
The bartender stared at Edgar blankly.