Down on the Floor

Down on the Floor
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Alan Black

I’m in the dive’s smoking room at closing time, Friday night, brutal, frenzied partying. The second hand fug measures up like smog in LA. Life’s accountant will dock a few days from me at the end. The floor covered in butts and beer cans, pizza boxes, napkins, puke. A young woman is the last customer in the death chamber. She zooms in.

“If you had ashtrays, you wouldn’t have to sweep this up. This is so horrible. Your boss could save money on the time it takes for you to sweep up the mess. No ashtrays. It doesn’t make sense. And it wouldn’t be so disgusting, it’s really disgusting in here, and why do you do this job? It’s a job you would just do in college not when you are old.”

She reaches for her phone and I wonder if she is posting a Yelp! review, smoky smelling adjectives on this grim scene of tobacco slavery. Her pupils are flying like saucers.

On the floor, I see a little baggie with powder hiding behind a busted box of Marlboro. “Look,” I say. She dives down like a vulture. “Mine,” she shouts. And I can see how excited she is with her lucky strike. Her saucers spin. “You discover interesting things about people in the disgusting bar floor world,” I say. And she slips the baggie into her purse, and goes straight to her phone, and I wonder if she is deleting her Yelp review. I see her hurry outside and ride off in an Uber. She will be over the horizon, awake, when the sun rises.

I ponder her last words to me. “One day a robot will sweep up. You won’t have this job.” But it will be too late for me. I’ll be pushing up daisies as the new dawn fades. Better than pushing a broom in the smoking room, she might say.

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