We’re inside now, and I am drunk, drunker than I can remember being. 12 drinks will do that. But I don’t feel drunk, I feel euphoric, and the dark bar is glowing and spinning like some broke-down merry-go around.

The music is blasting, and the people are dancing, the group of guys in the corner are yelling at the top of their lungs to Madonna, and the beautiful bartender with tattoos covering her body like spreading, wayward ivy is shuffling her feet behind the bar, and I pretend she’s looking me and desiring me with her eyes, but of course she’s not, she doesn’t even notice me.

Johnny is somewhere else, he’s talking to this young black kid who just turned 21 and is real cool and dances better than we ever will, and I notice Andy sitting not too far from me.  I move closer and ask how he’s doing, and he’s fine, but he doesn’t look fine, he looks sad, sadder than I can remember anyone looking, sad as if his whole life has been one sad story that is filled with nothing but disappointment and rejection and loneliness.

I ask if he’s enjoying himself, and he says he is but doesn’t say anything else, just looks at his beer which is glowing like amber in the dim light. He asks what I do, and I tell him that I worked as therapist, that I listened to people and their everyday pains, and I tell him about the sadnesses I hear about, the abuses I hear about, the awful things humanity is capable of. He asks, his eyes glimmering under the dim lights like candles floating on water, if that is hard to deal with. I tell him it is, I tell him how sometimes I come home feeling completely spent and sad that I had to quit because some days I felt like crying when I got home because I had heard too much, felt too much, given too much.

He looks at me and says in a voice that’s incredibly quiet in the loud bar, his voice tinged with sadness and understanding, that sounds really hard to deal with. He doesn’t say so but it is obvious that he understands everything, a chubby, bespectacled buddha who has suffered and suffered and is still suffering. I smile, half-grin meant to show that I am sad as well but enjoy talking to him, and I tell him thank you for the talk, it was nice, but I really like this beautiful bartender, and I really want to tell her that now. He smiles and looks back at his beer and waits for something, anything to happen.

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