The bar is half full when I yell last call. Credit cards and cash appear and I start the close-a-tab shuffle.
“Did I pay you?” Jesse asks.
“For the seventh time, yes.”
Del, gimme a hug!” says Erin.
“I already did.”
“Can I still use the bathroom,” asks Jeff peering in the doorway with a cigarette in hand.
“Make it quick.”
“I gotta go too,” says another following close behind Jeff, followed by another four dudes.
“Guys, I already did last call.”
Two more smokers come back in the bar.
“You still serving?”
“No, time to go home.”
“I gotta use the bathroom,” one of them pleads.
Three more people walk in behind them.
“Shots!” The group demands, showering the bar with crumpled dollar bills and bags of cocaine.
“This is it. And please, put that away.”
“Jesse is passed out in the bathroom!” Someone yells.
I book it under the pass and bang on the bathroom door.
“Jesse, you in there?”
I jimmy the door with a credit card and find Jesse passed out under the sink.
“Someone help me out here!”
“Only for a free shots!”
I slide Jesse out and hoist him into a booth. I turn to see six more people walking in and Erin behind the bar serving beers.
“What are you doing?”
“Del, gimme a hug.”
“Hey what’s going on here?”
It’s a cop, followed by his two partners.
“You can’t serve this late.”
“Trying to close, Officer.”
The three cops take off their caps and sit down at the bar.
“Well, how about three 7&7s, then?”
I serve until the sun comes up. Morning commuters pass by on the street, looking in with horror and envy. 12 construction workers come in and order 14 Coronas. ER nurses in OR scrubs file into a booth and order double Bloodies. A box of two dozen bagels appears on the bar with tubs of cream cheese. Good Morning America is on. The day time crowd then shuffles in for Happy Hour. Nine hours after last call I bum a cigarette, stuff my pockets with tips and an old bagel, slide out the back door with the place still full and go home. I wake up that night to text messages and missed calls, selfies and videos. Jesse texts there’s no more Jack Daniels. Erin says come back and give her hug. The nurses are doing body shots. Jeff wonders if I can pick up limes.
The party is still going on from what I last heard. It’s been weeks now. I’ve since changed my number. It’s the end of the road for me. You can go elsewhere, but you can’t stay there forever. Or maybe you can.