Prompt: As good as it gets


“Is this really as good as it gets?”

I looked over at Karen with a laugh beginning in my throat, but she was dead serious.

We’d been knocking back a few but I didn’t think we’d reached the point of maudlin philosophy just yet. Obviously, she’d gotten farther down that road than I had.

“Hey, it ain’t all that bad,” I said, clapping her on the shoulder. “We got our health, right? And good friends to bum around with? What more do we need?”

She looked at me like I’d spit in her drink or something. “John, you don’t even understand what I mean. The damn bartender understands me better than you do. I think there has to be something better out there for me. You think everything’s perfect just as it stands.”

The bartender? Who’s she kiddin’? The guy never says nothing, just pours the beer and takes the money. I bet he doesn’t even know her name and she thinks he “understands” her. Ha! A lot she knows. Now, if Tom Kerry was tending bar tonight, that’d be a different story. there’s a guy that understands everybody, and makes some damn good tips because of it, too.

I popped a pretzel into my mouth and started to suck off the salt. Karen just stared at me for a minute, then set her drink square in the middle of the little napkin and picked up her purse. By the time I chewed up that pretzel to ask where the hell was she going, she was gone.

I looked at the bartender. He looked right back at me.