JJ’s Round Table

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just another conversation in another local's hometown bar. Today's topic is mixed.

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 cost 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?" Asked Lucy Carder.

Lucy is the daughter of Samuel Carder, owner and operator of Carder’s Home Moving and Construction.

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

Lucy countered, "Really Steve?  You are single and I can't see you would be worried about anybody but yourself.

God only knows how many children you have fathered and how many of those women ended up to be welfare mothers after you started dating them.

Word in the laundry-mat and in the beauty-parlor is that you don't help any of them with any cash, even when you are working.

You take off on disability every time you get the chance. You live rent free in your mother's motel and drive her utility truck 'cause you got drunk and wreaked your own car last year.

And you work under the table as a bartender over in Huntsville, drawing social security disability at the same time.

Now tell us again, why you are crying about not having work. Please!"

Steven tried to justify what he had said, "Well, I have a reoccurring spinal condition that can flair-up at any time. Just ask Doc Tanner!

Lucy countered, "Doc Tanner?!? --- Really?!? You mean "Any drug you want, Tanner!"

You do know that the medical association took his license two years ago. Right?"

Oh those were trumped-up charges, he is appealing and expects his license to be reinstated, soon," Steven replied, as he lit a cigarette.

Steven tried to return to his original statement about the lack of work in the county. So he said, "Besides, when I was talking about men and working I was speaking for all the family men around town, not me.

Take Ted Landon for instance, he and his wife have 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 his 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. Shall we?

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.

Now let's talk about something else. OK?"

"Do you want to know what the real shame is?" Allen said, just after receiving his third 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 already take.

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

Tom, who works in the local garage, 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; even the drug company's TV commercials say so during their disclaimer. Now I ask you, what kind of help is that?

My God, these aren't bed ridden people, or people with conic conditions that have to have the drugs to survive."

Lucy butted in by saying, "Some weekly exercise after work, or going for a walk during lunch instead of eating, those things could relieve some of those symptoms for a lot of those people. They did for my Mom."

Bobby-Jo and Dillard had seated themselves at the bar and Dillard chimed right in, "I'm a firm believer in the motto about early to bed, early to rise, makes 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 couple of times a week, instead staying up ‘tell midnight can do a body a world of good.

But hay, the pills are quick and easy."

"That's right," said Sam, one of the retirees seated at the bar. "This drug and depression thing is not something new, --- no sir.

There's an old Rolling Stones song about it; I think it's 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 much.

Clothes dryers and automatic washing machines eliminated a lot of upper body movement and back then it was not ladylike to do the exercises that women 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!"

Almost everyone laughed at the thought.

In fact, 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 more laughter. Then bar towels were handed around to absorb the over-spray.

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

"No, I kept busy as possible. I got a part-time job at the Five & Dime, you know, while the kids were in school.

Then I started taking in ironing from time to time. I found that I could watch my Soap-Operas while standing up and ironing just as well as I could while setting and doing nothing.

You'd be surprised how much exercise that you can get stocking shelves at a Five & Dime, or slinging an iron around."

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

Calvin replied to that, "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 for the drug grew because the Chinese  were convinced that smoking opium warded off malaria.

Wars and strict communist control still haven’t gotten rid of it. It’s like a fungus, it spreads out and into the world, especially the USA.

An eerie silence fell over the bar as everyone looked at one another.

Suddenly Steven took two prescription pain killers, raised his beer bottle and stated, "Here's to pain relief, --- and God bless America!"


JE Falcon --- 06-10-2017

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