There are three clocks above the U-shaped bar at Gusto’s Gin Mill in Barre, Vermont. They show the time in Washington DC, Wichita and Afghanistan. An empty space to the right of Afghanistan is labeled Current Time. The question is asked: If the son of a Midwestern woman is killed in Kabul, does it matter what time it is in Washington?/ The woman with a fur collar sitting declares that no one should talk politics in a bar, it always leads to trouble./ You remain silent, but think of the marquis at the Unitarian Church in town that reads: An unanswered question is better than an unquestioned answer./ The only important question there tonight is draft or bottle, the bartender laughs./ All I really care about is that my boy’s team makes the AAA playoffs tonight, says the man next to fur collar./ The bartender changes the channel just as the nightly news leads in with a report about a drone strike and switches it to college football./ Another question is asked: Can you believe that shit?/ A declarative statement of war: to question it to aid the terrorists./ You glance a fluorescent orange poster that reads “Banned from entry” with names in black marker separated in three tiers of names labeled: X, XX and LIFE./ The women next to you says to no one in particular: Do you think this looks like real fur?/ The bartender says, I can’t believe Happy Harry is banned for life./ God willing, your boy’s team is going to kick ass tonight, says fur collar./ You ask: If it is an hour before closing, in Current Time, how many shots can I have?/ Another declarative statement of war: the answer is one.
Stacy Stepanovich is a writer who lives in Florida. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and a BA in English from the University of Pittsburgh. Her fiction has appeared recently in Jersey Devil Press, Coffee House Press and Extracts.