The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

Write Now! Prompt for 19 February 2013: Them

Okay, so today is the 20th. Somehow I managed to get through the whole day yesterday without reading the Write Now prompt {hangs head in shame}. I don't know how it happened {shrugs}. Please forgive me {looks plaintively}!!Right. Too much drama.Anyway, here's what the good folks over at Today's Author gave as a prompt and here is my offering, titled "Them:"

Madge laughed too loudly and Mortimer drank too much. It didn't matter the time of day or the occasion; they could find an open bar at 5am in a dry town. As it happened, they wandered into Kasey's the morning I was on early; I'd forgotten to lock the door when I came in to clean and as I was wiping the sticky from last night off the bar bumper, here they came, all brash and clanging, looking for some fun. It was 9:30am on the dot--I checked the clock over the register when I heard the door slam open."It's too damn quiet in here!" Mortimer screeched, "What kinda bar is this anyway? You ain't got the ballgame on?" He pronounced it "bawlgame" as I shook my head and made to cover my ears. He scoffed. "Eh, must not be a Mets fan." Madge cackled gaily the whole time, plunking herself on the barstool while Mortimer searched for the brim of his hat; he struggled to take it off as any gentleman would upon entering an establishment as fine as ours. The Kasey had been here since before the pilgrims, I figured, and would remain standing even after the end of the world. Finally Mortimer removed his hat, having used both drunken hands to find it atop his shiny pate. He took a deep breath and bellowed, "How long's it take to get a beer around here?"I looked around, expecting to find a large crowd, since no one could possibly talk that loud over silence. Since Shawn wouldn't be in for another half-hour, I figured I'd help the old guy out. I left off from my cleaning and pulled him a quick draft. I did my best bar-keep impersonation, asking their names and where they were from, all the while trying to keep the bottles from rattling to the floor as Mortimer bellowed his responses and Madge's raucous barks provided punctuation. I learned that they'd driven across the country, stopping when tired to sleep, pausing in town after town to take in the local culture as offered in various watering holes. Shawn's initial scowl at finding me behind the bar disappeared when he saw how much I'd collected from the couple in just 30 minutes; they greeted him like a long-lost friend as he took over pouring and I went back to find the mop before the early lunch crowd arrived.My ears rang as Mortimer's voice and Madge's laughter overshadowed all the conversations that afternoon. They were the center of attention and loved every minute of it. As the last of the mid-day crowd dwindled, I saw them preparing to leave; I almost dropped a tray of mugs as I saw Mortimer lean over and whisper something to Shawn--I didn't think he had an ounce of quiet in him. As they made their way past me and toward the door, Mortimer looked me up and down.  He wrapped Madge's arm around his own and said to her, "It's always the quiet ones, you know?" as they swayed out into the sunlight. Shawn and I moved to the cloudy side window to watch them pull off from the curb, listening to the pitch of her laugh and the rumble of his voice over the car engine. We took a deep breath and allowed the stillness to heal our aching eardrums; "You musta left a great impression on 'em; the old guy only tipped me a $20," Shawn said as he pressed two crisp $100 bills into my palm. February

Friday Fictioneers, 22 February 2013: Homestead