Jack sat at the bar. Alone midday on a Tuesday in the middle of winter. The smell of smoke and cheap perfume choked the lungs.
Jack lit the cig – half tobacco, half pot. It calmed his nerves. Cured cancer even. The media talked about it and big tobacco pushed the ads.
Kids lurked around the streets like shadows, sucking THC lollipops, laughing. Being cool. He was glad he didn’t have kids.
Last week, Jack’s wife complained about the kids these days over a cup of Arabica.
Jack looked at his phone and pretended to listen, like usual.
Coat, keys, wallet, phone. Kiss goodbye.
Traffic, media, radio, stoplight. A man holding a sign on the corner. Jack pulled his film case from his pocket and popped a couple. It was a cocktail; hydro, oxy, lortab, valium, vicodin.
Parking garage, quick toke. Elevator, good mornings and smiles, cubicle, computer. Meeting at 9:00. Meeting at 9:30. Lunch in the cafeteria, a brown bag his wife made the night before. Another meeting.
Now Jack sat at the bar, alone, admiring the craftsmanship in the neon beer sign.
“What can I get ya?” The bartender said.
“Crown.” Jack took a toke.
He looked at the dancing girls behind him. His favorite was working tonight. Krystal.
The bartender sat the drink down. Before he could walk away, Jack shot it down, holding it across the bar for another pour.
Fifteen minutes later, nothing. Why was the buzz not kicking in?
Bathroom, locked stall door. He pulled a small bottle of eye drops from his pocket. Monkey Juice was what the kids called it. Heroine mixed in to get the red out. A couple drops in each eye and the effects flooded him immediately.
He opened the door and washed the germs from his hands. Tired eyes looked back at him in the mirror. He walked back into the bar.
A man, weathered with dried blood on his face, sat in Jack’s seat.
Jack took the seat next to him.
“Jack Grimes.” The man stated.
“Yeah, that’s me.” Jack signaled the bartender for another drink.
“I’ve been watching you for quite some time.” The stranger said and took a drag of a cig. “You ain’t doing so well.”
Jack laughed, eyes on the TV above the top shelf. “The world’s gone all to hell, and you tell me I’m not doing so well? You been watching the news?”
“You could say I keep up with current events, or did.” The stranger said, watching the cig burn. “What would you say if I told you that we are living in the beginning of the last days of man? The tribulation.”
“I would say you need another drink, friend.” Jack said, turning to look at the man. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Gabriel.” The stranger took his shot of crown and faced Jack. “I’m your guardian angel.”