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Two More: An Excerpt

I'm working on a new story. It's called "Two More" and its about a down-on-his luck man who  meets a mysterious stranger at a bar after closing time. The stranger offers him everything he's ever wanted ... for a price. Here's an excerpt...

Two More (by Joseph E. Shaw)

Mike Pierce spent the final moments of the second-to-last day of his life on a stool at the Friendly Stop Bar & Grille. He was drunk, and he spoke loud to no one in particular.

"The last thing I need," he said, "is another woman."

Sean Woods, The Friendly Stop’s bartender, had already turned up the chairs, locked the front door, and mopped the entrance way. He normally threw out the drunks ahead of closing time, too, but Mike was a friend from way back, family almost, and you don’t do that to family.

"Why don’t we call it a night, Mikey? Whaddaya say?"

"One more?" Mike said and then, as if sensing Sean’s hesitancy, "I’ll be good. I promise."

Sean stood next to the bar, towel in hand, looking for a rebuttal that wouldn’t come, and relented. "Alright, Mike. Just this once." He handed Mike a beer. Blue Moon: the kind the Friendly Stop’s customers said required orange slices and a fair bit of pretension if you wanted to drink it right.

"I'm a go out back, clean up some," Sean said. "When I come up you’re gone, okay?"

"Deal," Mike said and then, with a little too much cheer, "Cross my heart and hope to die!" Sean hesitated, just for a second, but turned and left.

Mike took a swig, then peeled off the label and looked at it. Blue Moon was Suzie’s favorite. She’d come home from work on the first warm day of the year with a six pack and a handful of oranges. "We’re gonna have some fun tonight," she’d say with a wry smile that usually meant the fun would extend to more than just a few drinks.

Mike Pierce and Suzanne Davis were married right out of college. The first few years of their life together were indeed fun. There were vacations to the beach, rainy Saturday afternoons in bed and conversations that lasted well into the night. "The Blue Moon days," as Mike called them, and he smiled each time he said it.

Suzanne was a nurse, so she could work anywhere. Mike was a writer who took side jobs with small advertising firms to pay the bills. They moved around a bit, then settled in Cincinnati when Mike got a job writing ad copy for Proctor & Gamble's new line of detergent. Mike would never have believed there was so much to say about dish soap, but that's the thing about business. They're always looking for new and exciting ways to say the same thing.

It was supposed to be temporary, but Mike did the job well and when they offered a promotion, he took it. The money was good and it seemed like maybe he and Suzanne could trade vacations for a house and maybe a few kids. But the promotion came with longer and longer hours at work. The freedom Mike had once loved evaporated with his new job and, slowly, so did  the fun.

One day, Mike came home from work late with a dozen roses and a six pack of Blue moon, hoping for a rare romantic evening. Instead, he caught Suzanne in bed with Harry Doolin, the assistant professor of the middle school down the street. Mike chased Harry - Mr. Doolin to the kids he taught - out of the house with a rusty, five iron.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Suzanne said, but the apologies weren’t enough. They were divorced a few months later, and now Mike spent his evenings at the Friendly Stop telling everyone who would listen how excited he was to finally be free, even though everyone, including Mike, knew it was a lie.

The front door creaked open. An older man with a beard and bushy eyebrows walked in. He wore a bright, white suit. Colonel Sanders bathed in bleach all the way down to his socks.

"S'cuse me," the man in white said. "I heard this place makes good martinis. Is that true?"

"Sorry, Mister," Mike said. "They’re closed."

"That don't mean anything. After all, you’re here. Aren’t you, Mike?"

"How do yo know my name?"

"Two More" will be out sometime in July or August. I hope you like it. I hope its everything you've ever wanted

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