I was recently invited by good friend and novelist extraordinaire Rebecca Cantrell to be a guest blogger on the Criminal Minds website, to which she contributes.
On a weekly basis they give their writers various challenges and this week’s was particularly cinematic. The goal was to take a picture, and then tell the story of that picture from two different points of view.
A copy of that posting is below, including my chosen photo. The original post can be found at the following link:
Her name is Cathy, or Johanna, or Maggie. Says she heard from a Facebook friend (someone she actually knows in person!) that I am the best bartender in the East Village. Yeah, yeah. Regulars are always telling you you’re the greatest, the best, a true friend. Just so long as you look after them, keep the buy-backs coming. But the moment the prices go up, poof, they vanish. Probably just over at Pat’s place on 1st, but they might as well be on the moon for all I’ll ever see them again.
I know her type. Laughs too loud. Talks too quickly. Smiles too broadly. House-sits some mangy cat up the street and can’t for the life of her figure out why at 42 she’s still alone. Well, sitting in my bar at 1:35am isn’t going to solve that dilemma, dearie. And no, you’re not weaseling your way home with me tonight. My back’s killing me and I’ll be happy just to smoke a bowl, eat that leftover spaghetti, and watch some Family Guy. But there she goes, flapping her tongue about the douche-bag she’s banging. As if I give a rat’s ass. But I’ll nod and smile. It is, after all, my job. Not here to offer opinion, just dispense the libations and soak up the verbal swill. I might as well have a sign above my head that says, “Deposit shit here”.
So sip your Blue Moon, sweetheart, and blab on to your heart’s content. You’ve got my ear for as long as you need. Or at least until 2am when I close.
“But there’s a blizzard outside,” he half whimpered. Outside our apartment all you could see was a hypnotic white. I didn’t care. I had to get out, and rabid horses from Hades couldn’t have stopped me.
My husband Julius, sweetest of men, has had as little sleep as I have since Wally was born but somehow he’s handling it better. I joke with him that it’s because he’s slightly autistic. Nothing fazes him. Me, though? Woof.
It’s hard to explain what the crying does to me. I’d like to think I’m this normal, mostly well-adjusted (Thanks, Dr. Hannover), rational person. But then the baby cries, something in my brain flips, and I’m a neurotic banshee. And after ten months of not sleeping (seriously, this child does not know how to sleep) can you blame me for wanting out?
So I threw on my coat and fled. Last thing I saw was Julius bouncing an atypically quiet Wally in his arms, my husband’s eyes simultaneously mournful and relieved.
I don’t know what I was looking for, what I even expected to find. But there it was, emerging from the swirling silent whiteness like the prow of Carpathia arriving to rescue Titanic’s survivors. Ok, I might be overdoing it a bit, but to a new mother in need of rescue herself it was pretty damn welcome.
The ill-tempered bartender barely nodded at me as I sat down.
“A pint of Blue Moon, please.”
Moments later I was looking down at my first real drink since the little stick with the plus sign proclaimed my life forever changed. Forbidden nectar. I started laughing then realized I should have asked for a half-pint. I’m breast-feeding and can’t arguably liquor myself up. At that the floodgates of regret opened. What would Wally think of me? How could I do this to Julius? But I didn’t get up and rush home. No. I drank my beer, joked with bartender, even flirted a little.
I am a terrible mother.