Thursday, January 6, 2011

Out Takes - Bar Stool Prophets by Ethan H. Minsker


A month more of winter and it would be done said the news, but standing outside at 1 a.m. in the cold I couldn’t see the end. The street lamps glowed with a soft halo as the snow fell. Avenue A was devoid of people and cars. The blizzard kept most people hunkered down at home. It was quiet except for the occasional plow and the snow crunching under my feet. I just wanted to see the snow and had no direction in mind. I owned the street and walked down its middle for a few blocks, then was forced onto the sidewalk when a plow passed. Scooping snow off the top of a parked car, I made a snowball, packed it tight, shaved down the bumpy spots. A figure made its way towards me, the jacket hood of their jacket was up and filled with a giant head.

“Hey,” the figure said.

I peered into the eyes and recognized Cinda. “What’s up, Big Head?” I said.

We had stopped hanging out when I started working at the bars. I had the impression that she thought I was better than her, cooler, or that she thought I thought so.

“Don’t fucking call me that!” she said, hitting me hard on the arm. “Some guys are following me saying fucked up things.”

“Where?” I looked around but saw nothing and added, “What did they say?”

“You know, like ‘Come back with us, baby, and we’ll keep you warm.’”

“How can they even tell you’re a girl?”

“I don’t think they care.”

I looked again. There were three of them. An orange knit hat peeked out from under the hood of the largest one. He mumbled something as they passed.

I took the snowball and hit the largest one in the center of his back. I wanted to hit him in the head, right on the orange knit hat, but my aim wasn’t that good. He turned and came back. It took a moment before his friends knew he wasn’t walking with them.

“Hey, what’s your fucking problem?” He was European, maybe German.

“Why, are you guys giving her a hard time?” I asked. “There are three of you, and just one of her?”

“Fuck you, man!” He gave me a shove.

The two friends came and tried to pull him away. I grabbed my brass knuckles, and when the big one lunged for me, I punched him in his chest. His arms crashed to his side. He stepped back rubbing the spot. “Let’s go,” he said to his friends and they took off.

Cinda looked at me. Her lips stretched into a stringy smile. “Thanks.”

“I didn’t think it would turn into a fight,” I said and wiped the sweat that had formed on my forehead. “Well, maybe a snowball fight. I haven’t seen you in such a long time, you should come by the bar.”

“I’m not going to that bar,” she said snarling.


“It’s a hipster bar.”

“Not on the weekends. Then it’s bridge-and-tunnel. The weekdays are for the locals.”

“Yeah well, I’m not cool enough to hang out there.” Cinda was a constant curmudgeon.

“Don’t you want to see Orlando?”

“Why? You ruined him,” she hissed.

“What does that mean?”

“He used to be nice and polite. Now he’s a rude coke-head.”

“I have nothing to do with that.”

“You’re the one who started taking him to bars when he should have been staying in high school.”

I had nothing to do with his drug habits and wasn’t going to take the burden. I had already gone through the guilt and surmised that if he was susceptible to coke it didn’t matter the environment. In New York City at some point he would encounter it and it was up to him to say no. “What else have you been up too?”

“Art school. I have to finish one more class.”

“You should have been done long ago.”

“I got into a fight with one of my teachers.”

“A fistfight?”


“What happened?”

“I had to switch schools. I go to Parsons now.”

“Why did you get into the fight?”

“I didn’t like what she said about my art. She was a stupid cunt and would always give me shit so I couldn’t take it anymore. I slapped her good.”

As we said our goodbyes I realized it was best that she didn’t want to come to the bar. I didn’t need any help getting into fights.


A week later I was in the Z Bar having a soda when a tall man sat next to me. An orange knit hat was tucked in his jacket pocket. He had a wide-open face with sandy hair. The German.

“It was you who hit me with the snowball?” he said.

I looked at him and smiled. I knew everyone in the bar, and he didn’t. “Yep.”

With a goofy smile, he said, “You punch very hard.” He took a sip of beer.

“I had on these.” I pulled the brass knuckles from my pocket and dropped them on the bar in front of him.

“They work well. I need some of those.”

“You can get them in Chinatown if you look around.”

“Hey, thanks… No hard feelings,” he said and held his hand out.

We shook.

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