It was 3am when ‘Beer Mugs’ Moran locked the doors at the One Lucky. The oak counter had been wiped and shined. The ash trays emptied and polished. The floor swept and mopped. He had done the inventory with an uneasy satisfaction, however. Beer sales had been good lately. But that meant he had to carry more large kegs of draft up narrow stairs and it hurt his shoulders.
This especially bothered ‘Beer Mugs’. He’d get sharp pains that
ran from his neck and through his shoulder blades and down into his sides. Sometimes when he twisted his torso slightly there’d be an unexpected twitch of hurt.
The bartender knew he wasn’t as young as he once was. A couple of decades ago he could carry beer kegs all night; bounce tough guys onto the street; clean the One Lucky in a hurry; and then dance late into the morning.
But in the last year or so his temples had turned gray. He had difficulty making a tight fist and throwing a steady punch against trouble makers. Like an aging prize fighter he began to have doubts about his life on the floor. In quiet moments he’d wonder if he should sell the One Lucky to a younger man and leave gracefully. But it was difficult for ‘Beer Mugs’ to admit to his mortality. So he did his best to put these thoughts of old and young men out of his mind.
It took a couple of tries for the lock to close. In the morning the aging bartender would get a can of oil and lubricate the rusty parts. He promised himself he wouldn’t forget to do this as he walked into a cold wind. But at the edges his memory wasn’t what it once was.