ICE HOUSE - keith meatto

Outside the Ice House, there’s a guy in handcuffs in the parking lot. He’s about 30, boy-thin, stringy hair, dirty face. He’s white; the cops are black.

Ronald shakes his head. He sold his bar downtown and moved here after a shooting tripled his insurance. Now he misses Baltimore, his town that collapsed like a dead star. Damn, he says. I thought today was No Bum Monday.

He refills the chips. Above on the screens, the Longhorns are walloping the Christians. Outside a woman yells at the cops to leave her man alone. Her shirt is backless; her shorts smaller than gloves. The men at the bar brag what they would do to her all night long, then go quiet when the tattoo sisters enter. Ronald pours pints while they complain how the man in handcuffs leered at them. They sound turned on.

Ronald watches the scene outside until the cops uncuff the guy. He totters like a deer on ice, then crosses Guadalupe and almost gets mauled by two cars. The backless shirt woman stays in the lot. Maybe she wasn’t his girlfriend after all, just a Samaritan.

It’s five to seven. Happy hour is almost over.

Keith Meatto
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
David Mitchell