The flushed man tossed back his drink before slamming the shotglass onto the counter.

Bartender, gimme another he slurred.

I eye him warily. He's drunk, no doubt about it. Glassy eyes, rudolph nose, tiny red spider veins pulsing just beneath the surface of his cheeks-all the signs are there. Policy dictates this man is shut off. I give Joe a silent heads up in case there is trouble. Joe is instantly on the alert.

"Sorry, Mike, but it's time for you to go home. You've got work tomorrow buddy. Go get some shut eye."

He squeezes his eyes shut before letting out a big sigh.

No I don't. Ain't got no job to go to no more. They gone and laid me off today, big talk 'bout downsizing and downturning ecomony. Twenty years, I gave 'em twenty years of my life and for what. The big kiss off. Don't know nothin else. Damn. What am I gonna do? I know, gimme another one.

"Can't do that Mike. I promised Mona not to let you get out of hand. Go home to your wife. She'll be looking for you."

He drops his head into his hands, suddenly shaking.

She's gone too, just like the job. She ranted and raved this morning bout being done wasting her life in some hick town with a drunk going nowhere. She packed her bags and left. When it rains, it pours, don't it?

"Does she know about the job?"

Nope and she ain't gonna know. Don't want her feelin sorry for me. He gives me the look. What I really need is to forget everything for a while. So...bout that drink? He taps the counter with the glass questioningly raising his eyebrow.

Joe shrugs at me, so I pour him another.

Here's hoping the sun won't rise for a while

He chugs it down like water. Two more and he's sleeping with his head on his arms, snoring loudly. Joe takes him home to his empty house, while I clean up the bar thinking about how his life is falling apart before his eyes and he's throwing himself down a hole. I hope like hell he'll be able to pull himself out.

She's laying on her stomach, hair splayed across our pillows and her cheek. The blanket is covering her from the midback down. Her foot peeks out over my side of the bed. She's taken it over again, all stretched out. The moonlight shines over her bare smooth skin. I just stand there watching her sleep for a while, watching the soft rhythm of her breathing as her back softly rises and falls.

I slip in beside her, breathing deeply of her scent, faintly touched by traces of lingering vanilla. She moves over unconsciously spooning herself against me. My troubled thoughts slide aside as I put away the day and just enjoy the moment, nestling together. There is no future to worry about, no past to dwell on, only now, this moment of peace. I am lucky. I wrap my arm around her, then kiss her goodnight on the nape of her neck. I could lay like this forever.

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