The Men I Met as a Bartender & The Things I Didn’t Do

by Kaytee Jackson

Coors Light, draft.

When he sits down, he is looking at me with glazed eyes—he’s already drunk. When he slurs his way through asking for his beer, I apologize out of habit and tell him I cannot serve him anything. I have learned to walk away from these men. His eyes follow me. I avoid the side of the bar he is on. When he punches the counter and calls me a cunt, the other men around him are silent.

He looks me in the eyes and tells me he will destroy everything I love.

I search for something he loves so I can return the favor, but I find nothing.

 

Jack & Coke, no straw.

He’s wearing a world’s best grandpa t-shirt. I can tell his type the moment he walks in. The kind whose smile looks like a dark alley. When I am pouring a pint of beer, he yells across the bar for me to stand wider. He says spread your legs out while you do that, I like it when you do that.

I say no.

He calls me a stupid bitch.

I offer to spread my legs for the man who drags him out.

 

Vodka & Red Bull, single-tall.

He’s a regular. He tips hundreds of dollars at a time—a wealthy divorcee. He becomes very angry if you don’t engage in mindless conversation. One of the other bartenders says he’s just lonely. Just looking for a conversation. She has to block him on Facebook a week later because he won’t stop messaging her pictures of his penis.

As I am closing, he asks for a drink. I tell him no, that last call is over. He argues. He becomes very angry, as he is prone to do. He offers me $100. I am made uncomfortable by this, and repeat no, it’s time to leave, I’m ready to go.

He tells me he doesn’t give a fuck about what I want. When he refuses to leave, I threaten to call the police. I follow him to the exit and I don’t fumble with my keys when I quickly lock the door behind him, but he hears the deadbolt clicks and flies into rage. He looks me in the eye when he tries to rip open the door handles and hammers his fist into the glass again and again. He tries all the other doors to the building. Thankfully, all locked.

I lace my keys between my fingers when I leave work two hours later. He is waiting for me in his truck in the parking lot.

I pull him out of the truck by the collar and run him over. Twice.

 

Drink unknown.

I am young. When I answer the phone, he asks if I shave my pussy. When I hang up, the phone rings again almost instantly. I ask a man I work with to answer it.

The caller asks for me.

He continues to call for months after. He learns my work schedule, always asks for me. Always asks the same question. He calls from an unknown number. Only once does his name and information show up on the caller ID.

I show up at his doorstep with a dull razor.

 

Long Island Iced Tea, easy ice.

He comes in every Sunday for a month. He is strange, but I kind of like that. He asks about my life, my career, my writing. He plays virtual poker and he is very bad at it. We joke. He wears scarves and thick-rimmed glasses, and for some reason, it doesn’t make me feel like prey.

He leaves me a note with his number that says I love big women, you’re beautiful. I throw it away without much thought after he leaves.

When he asks about the fetish note the next Sunday, I tell him I am flattered, but married.

He calls me a slut.

I use my wedding ring to carve fuck you into his arm.

 

Bud Light, bottle.

I’ve seen him before and my hair stands on end at the sight of his blue hoodie. When he approaches the bar, I pretend to be busier than I am so I have an excuse to be terse. He asks me if I can smile. I say yes, I have the ability, but the corners of my mouth do not move. When he hands me the money for his drink, he says smile for me. I do not. He asks me, what’s wrong with you, and I say you wouldn’t ask a man to smile.

He repeats himself, what’s wrong with you, and I walk away with trembling hands.

After a few sips of beer, he calls me over.

He tells me he will make a lampshade out of me.

I swallow a lit match and glow.

Kaytee Jackson Wade is an instructor and writer pursing her Master’s degree in English with a focus on creative nonfiction at Texas Tech University. She also serves as an associate editor and contest judge for Iron Horse Literary Journal. Her writing centralizes on womanhood, sexuality, and inequality in all its forms. She currently lives and writes in the South Plains with her partner and three-legged dog, Bruce.

Artwork by: Ricardo Elisiário

Ricardo Elisiário is a freelance photographer and writer for hire. To find out more about this Lisbon-born wifey-lover, visit his website (rmelisiario.com).