On Narrative


On Narrative

A man walks into a bar
but we’ll get back to him
The bar is wood-panelled
There’s a jukebox
Pale ale
Ever since the smoking ban
saloon doors
Heads spin and freeze
The barman swivels a cloth in a glass tumbler
It’s a steel bar
So the man
Who is you
Or isn’t
If this is a true story
Or this is a joke
Or this is something that is actually happening
If you are a woman
In which case he is a reminder that this story does not belong to you
So the man
He walks across the bar
Which is as empty as it needs to be
He orders everything at the bar
And one for the lady
He has big paws and a long face
Arrows quiver in the wooden bar
Everyone freezes
Everyone cheers
The jukebox is kicked into life and everyone turns back and carries on
The man orders another
We see briefly an exterior shot of the bar
The windows are amber
And the lake outside is blue and still
And when we return every surface is littered with empty bottles
The bar is empty
Everyone is singing
The man and the lady laugh raucously but we can’t be sure who has told a joke
Or an embarrassing story
Thank goodness they’ve recovered from the initial awkwardness
The violinist has long gone
The news anchor speaks on but the sound is muted
If only they were listening
Cards litter the empty tables
A chair rocks
The doors flap
The barman
Or it might be the waiter
chases after them into the street
But they are gone
Probably walking by a river somewhere
Or kissing in a doorway
They are on the run
It might have started raining
But she probably didn’t notice
The barman
and the waiter
sling towels over their shoulders
and return to the bar
The walls warp and buckle
A man brushes the floor
The jukebox plays on
He whistles
She’s standing in the window
She’s come back for him
Or she hasn’t
He looks up at a picture of her on the wall
The walls are made of light
Voices scream from the jukebox
People howl
Ghosts turn over tables
The cards spiral upwards
Furniture is piled up in front of door
Snipers shoot out the windows
They cower behind the bar
Or against the wall
Bottles tinkle and shake
They explode in sequence along the back wall
Her photograph falls to the floor and is forgotten
A bottle of spirits smashes on the floor and we follow the liquid as it chases towards the unnoticed fire
The bar is made of metal
The man leaves the bar
He lights a cigarette
He is under a streetlight
He is staring at the moon
They piss in an alleyway staring up at a light from a nearby window
There is a moment of total silence
The bar is still made of metal


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