Skid Row

It was late afternoon and the crowd was thin at Jeff’s Bar. But one man at the counter was already busy getting drunk. His boyish features were offset by very bloodshot eyes and a two day old beard.

At the end of the counter, the television announcer said, “In business news, social media giant FacePalm announced the resignation of CEO Martin Suckerberg. A spokesperson for the board said the company would continue to follow Suckerberg’s legacy under the leadership of its new Strategic Management AI. Wall street has reacted positively to the announcement with FacePalm share prices -”

The young man aimed an empty beer can at the TV but missed. The bar keeper turned the set off. He looked at the man. Something disturbed him, something at the edge of his memory but he couldn’t figure it out. Did he know this kid?

His thoughts were interrupted by a woman’s entrance. Her golden tresses fell attractively over one eye as she moved up to the bar with effortless elegance. The barkeep was pleased. The music act he had called was early. He moved over to discuss the evening’s program.

Ten Minutes later the young man demanded another beer. The barkeep was about to suggest that maybe he had consumed enough when he let out a breath. He moved close to the young man and whispered, “Hey aren’t you . . .”

The man interrupted without looking up, “yeah, yeah, you got me, I’m Martin Suckerberg and yes, I am unemployed and no I don’t have any idea what I am going to do next.”

The barkeep sympathized. He’d opened this bar after losing his job to automation too. “Look, you may not believe this, but I know how you feel. I lost my job too. Getting drunk won’t help you. You need to get out of this city for a while to find out what you really need. I was lucky, I had enough money to open this place. What about your savings?”

The man looked up now and was trying to think clearly. “Yeah, I bought some stock in this company … er … what was the name . . . er. . . Birdshy Hidaway.”

“Don’t mention that name!” a voice cried out from a dark corner of the room. A plump, white haired, teddy bear of a man emerged. His cheeks were red with the drink he had been swallowing all day.

Suckerberg stared, “Walter Beefy? What are you doing here? I thought you retired from Birdshy Hidaway last year to spend time fishing.”

Beefy sneered “Retired, hah. Pushed out to pasture is more like it.”

Suckerberg was surprised, “Don’t you invest anymore?”

Beefy looked ashamed, “I haven’t made an investment decision in years. It was being done by a computer. My job was to come up with folksy wisdom to tell the shareholders. Now they have a software that can do that and they don’t need me.” He sobbed and sat down at the bar burying his face in his hands.

The singer who had been checking the sound equipment till then came over and addressed him and Suckerberg. “Will you two would stop being such cry-babies. I earned two Grammies. But ever since voice synths came out, I have to work joints like this” she said.

The barkeeper felt insulted. “And what is wrong with a joint like this? This isn’t just any bar, its my bar, Jeff Bozos’ bar. I’m going to make it as big as I made Nile Web Services.”

Suckerberg seemed to have completely recovered from his earlier daze. His eyes widened as he recognized the singer, “hey aren’t you ShakeItA? I loved your music. Are you still composing?”

She seemed flattered at being recognized. “Well I do have a new number I was thinking of trying out. This seemed like the right place for it.” She walked over to the stage and crooned.

I gave up, I gave in,

I had reached the end

I couldn’t start again

Still I’m not in the lead.

Though I’ve tried everything

[Author’s Note: Thanks to i,caliban for suggesting this idea. Please send ideas over if you would like me to write on anything.]

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