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Short story: <i>Big Night Out</i>

Monty sat on his bar stool and twiddled dejectedly with the toothpick he’d plucked from the dispenser earlier.

He looked at the toothpick. He ran a finger along the toothpick. He stabbed the end of the toothpick gently into his finger. He stuck the toothpick in his mouth and wedged it enthusiastically into the gap between his left front tooth and the one right next to it until he realised he had been touching the bar and a variety of other things with the finger he had just stabbed the toothpick with and hadn’t washed his hands in ages. He threw the toothpick into the ashtray in front of him, took a swig of his beer to disinfect his mouth of any bar germs, and took another toothpick out of the dispenser.

He twiddled the toothpick dejectedly.

Monty was a man with something on his mind.

It was something that he really, really needed to drum up the confidence to do, and this bar, this seedy, dirty, disreputable but still warm and welcoming and non-biker-infested bar was the place he had chosen earlier in the week to come to, deliberately, on a Friday night, and... get it over with.

Although, that’s not how his therapist would have wanted him to view the exercise.

Monty had tried to dress for the occasion. He didn’t want to stand out negatively, as though he was contrived or unfashionable, but he didn’t want to go home at the end of the night feeling as though he, or the evening, had turned out to be totally forgettable. So he was wearing his best jeans; the ones that sat around his hips and sank to his ankles and made him look like an advertisement for denim. He was also wearing a new shirt; a short sleeved polo-shirt in dark blue with alternating light blue stripes, one thick, then one thin, that the sales girl had told him was really, really trendy. He should have asked the sales girl out. She had been pretty, and not too nerve-wracking, and eager looking almost... but he had stupidly had tonight on his mind so much he had completely missed that opportunity. Stupid. He’d even done his hair, slicked it up at the front in the style that his mate, Greg, called a duck’s bum, but Monty didn’t believe everything Greg said. Although, Greg hadn’t ever, to Monty’s knowlege, been stuck in this situation.

When Greg had asked what Monty was up to tonight, Monty had made up some excuse, like he was sick and was taping something off TV for his mum and that he needed to sleep early for work.

Monty was a crap liar, because he used too many excuses and came off sounding fake.

Now Monty was using all of these thoughts in his head as excuses not to do what he had come here tonight to do.

Monty looked around in desperation. No one else was having the same issues has him right now. Most of the people around him were up and dancing on the sticky, beer-soaked carpet, kicking their heels and laughing and untroubled.

It was now or never, Monty knew.

Monty drained his beer, and stood up. As he was standing he looked around anxiously, but once he was firmly on his feet he thought that would look a bit like he was looking around anxiously so he stared at his feet. He had a little beer buzz, which should help.

He pushed his way around his bar stool, and then through the crowd of dancers. He jiggled a bit, as though he was meant to be there, not a stranger, not a weirdo with issues he was trying to resolve, not a man with a mission. He looked around. There were two pretty girls in the corner, looking at him through their fringes and waving. Monty ducked his head and made it to the wall, which contained the door to the men’s room.

Monty looked around. There was no one else in the men’s room, which was a relief.

He steeled himself, ignored the smell, and walked resolutely forward toward the urinal.

He held his breath.

He didn’t look at it.

He unzipped his pants.

He sighed with relief.

He even inhaled a little.

As he was washing his hands, he thought about how proud his therapist was going to be.

His first pub toilet.

This was progress.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. This week I have taken one of the seven plotlines (theory being, all stories spring from only seven plots) and a random location. Today’s plot and setting were: "Overcoming the monster" and pub.

Image courtesy of nick farnhill.

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