The Best Way to End the Day Is to Be Alive

Photograph by Jose Padua
The meanest bartender
in town was a Filipino dude
like me who was always ready
with a cold Fuck You
at the slightest offense
or No fucking way in response
to even the most reasonable of requests.
He was always nice
to the women, though,
the ladies, the ones walking
and the ones working,
and when I went in with a woman friend
it was the first time I ever saw him
smile and though he still
completely ignored me
I was sure I heard a whispered Fuck You
under his breath and directed at me
as he winked at my friend
while still not looking at me.
I knew right then
that if I’d been a bartender
he would have been me or
I would have been him
or something like that
and on the day that
I heard that he’d dropped dead
I didn’t raise my glass and
declare “Cheers” to his spirit
nor pronounce “rest in peace”
to the blank space
of his absence,
but merely continued
to drink until my mind felt full
and my fingers felt the sting
of an evening spent
smoking cigarette after cigarette
and engaging in significant discussions
I’d soon forget.
Then later that night
in the dizzy warmth
of my bed I leaned slowly
to my right
then half asleep and slowly
to my left just in case
there was anyone
there I could
whisper to.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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