In big cities a lot more people visit bars on pay-day. They drink, dance and make merry. Very many go home only the following morning after spending the night in bars and gutters. It gets worse when payday is a friday. There is more alcohol, dim lights, music, dance and sometimes fights. Today was one of such days. Payday Friday. It was already a few minutes to midnight and the music in Homeland bar* was getting loud. Deafening. People had to shout at the top of their voices to be heard whenever they spoke. There was the smell of sweat from the drunk dancers’ bodies mixed with that of the smoke from the cigarettes some of them were puffing. No one seemed bothered by the stench. It was a reflection of many other bars across town. There were others with names such as One for the road, Pay as you go, Home tomorrow, etc.
On the table closest to the door, sat a man in his mid forties. The wrinkles on his face and his pot belly figure made him look somewhat older. He wore a blue shirt over a brown pair of trousers and black leather shoes. The same way he was dressed before leaving home that morning. He had not returned home since he left for work.
He managed to get on his feet, and walk up to the counter, squeezing himself through the dancers on his path. After settling his bills at the counter, he staggered out of the bar barely able to maintain his balance. Though he looked visibly exhausted, any onlooker would notice he felt very contended too. What else could make a man happier than beer and cigarettes? Some said it was family, some said friends, some said religion. That’s for them. He set his own priorities with regards to what he felt was best for him and not what others felt.
Using the wall as a support, he moved to the back of the bar to relieve himself. There were no toilets so like the other men he met at the back of the bar, he passed out his waste in the open. He hated going behind there. If he could pay someone to pass it out while he drank he would. He smiled at himself wondering where such an idea came from. He threw away the bud of the cigarette he was smoking after lighting another with it. He was a chain smoker and he knew it. What was he without a cigarette? It was his base. It was the only thing he could turn to.
After much fumbling, he successfully opened his car, got in and turned the key in the ignition. The vibration caused by the car made him want to throw up. He was used to the feeling. When he started he couldn’t drink more than a bottle but now he could empty a crate in no time even on an empty stomach like today. That’s what happens when you do something so much that you become a master at it, he thought. The red, green and yellow lights from vehicles, and street lights looked blur as he drove past them. Was it as a result of power shortages or it was his vision failing him? (Whenever he thought about vision he would always remember Old Tommy who denied being drunk, saying he simply saw everything in a different light). If only the roads were wider driving at night would be less risky for him.
What else could be more risky than home he asked himself. An angry wife and three hungry kids all with unique worries and expectations of their own. He thought about the following morning. Now that His salary was gone, what would he tell his wife? That he had spent it all on beer and cigarettes? No one told him marriage would ever be this way. Last time she threatened to leave saying he was irresponsible and only the kids and neighbours’ pleas made her stay back.
He kicked open the old wooden door when he got home. It was about 1;30AM already and everyone at home was asleep. That was how he loved it. No worries, no demands from them. (His wife called it irresponsibility but he called it being witty). The smell of sweat, cigarettes and alcohol made him stink like the atmosphere in Homeland bar*. He wished he could take a bath but his tired bones won’t let him. Without even bothering to take off his shoes, he lay on the couch and lit another cigarette. That was where he spent most of his nights dreaming about the next payday.
Many times, the decisions we make affect and hurt our closest friends and family the most. – Lex Luger