JJ’s Round Table

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Those in the bar are at it again, talking about stuff they will never do anything about. But what else are you going to do when all you have to do is drink? --- Hmm, I wonder?

Submitted: June 12, 2017

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Submitted: June 12, 2017



It is Saturday afternoon in a town called Ford, all 14 blocks of it.

On one corner, Edsel Avenue and old Route 66, sets a beer bar and pool parlor, it is named JJ's.

A guy named Jimmy Jackson owns the place and he was going to call the bar "The Double J, complete with a Branding-iron logo." He was going to call it that until he found out how much the neon-sign was going to coast so he just shortened the name as much as possible.

Any-hoo, it is Saturday afternoon and a few people are sitting in the bar trying to get drunk, or trying to fix a hang-over, or just stopped in the bar for a couple of beers and to buy their weekly Lotto Tickets.

A regular, Allen, is sitting and listening to Steven talk about how hard things are, work wise.

"Things used to be different," Steven said, "I could pick up work all winter long. Somewhere in the county there would be somebody building or adding on to a house, a barn, horse stables, etc., but not anymore. No sir-ree, now everything is prefabricated this, or factory molded that. Hell, even the electrical is done. All they have to do is truck it in, slap it together, fasten it to the foundation, plumb the water lines and they are out of there.

It used to be six to eight weeks of building and at least ten men to do the job. Now it is one week, two tops, and four people, even girls."

"What's wrong with women working construction, Steve?" Asked Lucy Carter, daughter of Samuel Carter, Carter Home Moving and Construction.

Steven looked uncomfortable but answered, "Well it takes jobs away from men that need to support their families."

Lucy countered, "Really Steve?  You are single, but God only knows how many children you gave to welfare mothers; not that they needed any more.

You take off on disability every time a job comes alone that pays into social security, you live rent free in your mother's motel, and drive her utility truck most of the time.

You work under the table as a bartender over in Huntsville, and you draw social security disability at the same time. Now tell us why you are crying about not having work. Please!"

Steven tried to reply with, "Well, I have a reoccurring spinal condition, beside I was speaking for all the family men around town.

Take Ted Landon for instance, he and his wife has four kids and he was laid off from the auto parts plant three months ago. The plant is closing next year, so there goes 17 years of service to that company and he has no other training worth getting a job for. Ted had to pull the youngest kid out of college, and they will probably foreclose on his house after Christmas if he doesn't find something." 

The owner and bartender butted in and said, "All right, let's talk about something else.

God knows we have enough people out of work around this town, and around this country for that matter. It is a sad situation, but it is what it is. All the arguing in the world won't produce any jobs. So let's talk about something else. OK?"

"Do you want to know what a real shame is?" Allen said just after receiving a fresh beer. "And it is something people could do something about if they had a mind to."

"What's that?" asked Jimmy.

It is Drugs, that is the real shame in America today and I'm not talking about the illegal recreational kind either. If a whole lot of people don't figure out that they have a problem then the U.S.. is going to be in a real Opium pickle."

Calvin chimed in, "I'm afraid he's right, but the problem is already underway and it is not just Opium.

Prescription drugs in general are becoming part of everyday life and they are silently destroying this country. Just look at all the commercials on TV, they want you to tell your doctor what drug to give you or what drug to add to the drugs that you are already taking.

Seven of ten people in America take prescription drugs now days. That is Seven in 10, people! I mean, come on, what's up with that?"

The garage mechanic, Tom stated, “I just read a study mentioned in National Geographic, it said that one in four women, 40 to 50 years old, take antidepressants. Shit, taking antidepressants can make anyone more depressed and may cause suicidal thoughts. What kind of help is that?

I mean, my God, these aren't bed ridden people over 80, or people with conic conditions that have to have the drugs to survive.

Some weekly runs after work, or going for a walk during lunch instead of eating, those things could relieve some of these symptoms for a lot of these people.

I'm a firm believer in the motto about early to bed, early to rise make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. I just haven't got the wealthy part yet and I'm working on wise. 

Going to bed early a few nights a week, instead of waiting until after the 11 o'clock news, that could do some good stuff.

But hay, the pills are quick and easy, and you can stay up 'til midnight and get up at five; --- but not forever."

"That's right," said Sam, a retiree sitting at the bar. "This drug, depression, thing is not something new, no sir.

There was a song in the 1960's about it, by the Rolling Stones; it was called ("Mother's Little Helper").

"I remember that song," said Karen, Sam's wife. A line in the song says, ("Doctor Please, some more of these, outside the door, she took four more").

The song was true, too. I know because some of my girl friends got hooked on Valium and other drugs because they were just plain board. Some others started having cock-tail hour early, real early.

Like the woman in the song, those women started imagining all sorts of aliments because they weren't moving around as much anymore.

Clothes dryers and automatic washing machines eliminated a lot of upper body movement and back then it was not ladylike to do the exercises woman do today.

A brisk walk was the best that you could do, but God help you if you started sweating because the make-up back then would come off in buckets!"

That statement surprised Steven right in the middle of a gulp of beer. Most of the beer came out of his nose, to everyone's surprise and enjoyment. There was laughter and bar towels all around.

"Jimmy asked Karen, "How did you cope with it, didn't you get depressed?"

"Oh I kept busy. I got a part-time job at the Five & Dime, you know, while the kids were in school, and started taking in ironing from time to time. You'd be surprised how much exercise that you can get stocking shelves and slinging an iron around."

Allen asked, "Didn't the Chinese have a drug problem at one time too?"

Calvin replied, "Yes, Opium devastated that country's work force and caused at least one massive war in China.

Foreign interests brought the drug to China beginning in the eighth century and demand grew because they were convinced that smoking opium warded off malaria.

Now, two world wars later, a revolutionary war, and communism haven’t ridded the country of it. Now the rest of the world has joined in, especially the USA.

There was utter silence in the bar with everyone looking at one another.

Then Steven took two prescription pain killers, raised his beer bottle and stated, "Here's to pain relief, --- Cheers!"


D. Thurmond / JEF --- 06-10-2017


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