Thursday 31 August 2023

LODGE 1229 by Kevin Joseph Reigle, Coors Light or a Yuengling

 Trisha poured Coors Light into a glass of ice and placed it in front of the empty stool. Just like every night she worked; the glass would remain untouched as the condensation dripped onto the coaster.

            “Keith saw Ray last week,” Bobby said to Trisha as she handed him a bottle of Yuengling.

            “Yeah, I heard that. Did you know the state director saw Ray, too?”

            “Get out.”

            “It’s true,” Trisha said. “The director told Keith he saw someone over in the banquet hall. When Keith went to look, it was empty. No one was there. They came back over, and the director saw that picture of Ray on the wall from the softball tournament and said, that’s him right there. That’s the guy I just saw.”

            Bobby shook his head. “Jesus, and he never met Ray before?”

            Trisha grabbed a rag from under the bar and wiped a spill she neglected earlier. “No, Ray died before the guy took over as state director.”

            “I don’t know how anyone doesn’t believe Ray’s not haunting this place.”

            “Did you say Keith saw him last week, too?”

            “That’s what Keith told me,” Bobby said as he drained the bottle and looked down into the dissipating foam. “He was out back smoking.”

            “Who was smoking, Keith or Ray?”

            “He saw Ray smoking. You know Keith doesn’t smoke.”

            “Well, I didn’t understand why a ghost would be smoking.”

            “Because Ray smoked,” Bobby said. “Ray always smoked outside by the cooler.”

            “So, if you smoke when your alive, you smoke when your dead?” Trisha asked, unconvinced.

            “Of course. Don’t you know how any of this works?”

            “I guess not,” Trisha said as a loud buzz came from a speaker. She pressed a lighted button under the bar.

             The glass doors unlocked, and Andy entered the lodge wiping his nose with a handkerchief, his hands streaked with oil.

            When Bobby saw him, he patted the empty barstool. “I’ve been keeping it warm for you.”

            “I bet you have,” Andy said, sitting on the stool. “How the hell are you?”

            “I’m doing alright, how about you?”

            “I’m here, aren’t I? Keystone Light please, Trisha.”

            Trisha pulled a bottle from the cooler. Andy took out his wallet and tossed a blue chip on the bar. Trisha dropped it in a glass bowl next to the register. She pressed an icon on the POS screen and turned her attention to the ringing phone on the wall.

            Andy spun the bottle between his hands, examining the label. “Did I ever tell you about my ex-girlfriend that had gastric bypass surgery?”

            “I don’t think so. That’s where you lose weight, right?”

            Andy exhaled and leaned back stretching his arms down by his side. “Boy, did she ever lose weight. You could barely recognize her. I bet she lost almost two hundred pounds.”

            “That’s a lot.”

            “It sure is,” Andy said, sipping his beer.

            “So, what happened?”

            “She left me.”

            “I’m sorry. What’s her name? Do I know her?”


            Bobby snapped his fingers. “Didn’t her family use to own a restaurant, or something?”

            “Yeah, it was a little place down by the water.”

            Trisha came from the other side of the bar to check on them. “You guys good?”

            Andy looked over her shoulder at the rack of bagged snacks on the wall. “Can I get some chips?”

            “What kind?” Trisha asked.

            “Sour Cream and Onion.”

            “Good choice,” Trisha said, pulling the bag from the metal clip and laying it on the bar. “These are my favorite, too.”

            “Is it still open?” Bobby asked Andy.

            Trisha took out her cellphone and pulled over a stool from behind the register. “Is what still open? What are you talking about?”

            Andy opened the bag of chips. “I was telling him about a girl I used to date. Her family owned a restaurant down by the water.”

            “I know the place you’re talking about,” Trisha said, not looking up from her phone. “It’s over by the lighthouse.”

            “Yeah, that’s the one,” Andy said. “They ended up closing it, not enough tourists anymore.”

            That’s a problem for everyone, isn’t it?” Bobby stood and adjusted his jeans. “Nature calls.”

            “Hey, don’t fall in while you’re back there,” Trisha said, dryly.

            “I’ll try not to,” Bobby said as he went down the hall to the bathroom.

            He pushed open the door and stepped into the darkness. The motion sensing light popped on, casting a harsh glow over the grungy tiles and stained wallpaper. Bobby caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror as he stepped up to the urinal.

            While reaching for his belt, the light flickered. A chill floated across his neck. “I don’t have any cigarettes, Ray.”


About the author 

 Kevin Joseph Reigle’s short stories have appeared in Beyond Words, Drunk Monkeys, Bridge Eight, The Dillydoun Review, Pensworth, Prometheus Dreaming, BQW, Bright Flash, CafeLit, and others. He is an English Professor at the University of the Cumberlands. 
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