Homecoming by Josh Levario

“Irish car bomb” I said placidly to the bartender. He eyed me with a ferocious stare, the kind that fathers give to untrustworthy sons. I could tell he wanted to know what convinced me to come into a bar at 5PM on a Wednesday and order what is usually the last drink of the night. “Girlfriend stuff” I tried to explain, “Every week we fight about my salvation or whatever. I never promised her I would go to church, you know? Anyway, I’m trying to avoid that conversation. I don’t need another lecture about how real heaven and hell are.” The bartender stayed silent and handed me my drink, the brim of his Yankees cap slanted in an awkward angle.

The night went on like normal. As per usual, the boys from Yonkers showed up at a quarter past 8 and they reared around and played with me in jest. “Bobby! Your ol’ girl finally leave you yet?” one of them yelled. I just laughed and flipped him the bird. I was feeling great until a new guy showed up and took a seat next to me at the bar.

He ordered a fireball straight, and began to talk out loud. “And on the first day God screwed in the lightbulb, and hotwired an on and off switch. This was good” he said. I tried not to listen, but his voice was too smooth to stop. He continued, “And then the water appeared. This was good too. And the animals! Oh, the animals, they roamed the earth! But then the humans showed up.” His voice grew solemn. “Adam and Eve really fucked up you know.” He turned to me and looked straight in my eyes. “God planted the Tree of Knowledge on purpose. When has anybody been able to stay away from freedom? One little bite of the and everything was yours, not a bad deal, right?” He moved closer now, placing his hand around my shoulder. “I just wish they knew it was real. I’ve been there before.”

“What’s real?” I asked. He just continued to stare at me, his glass of fireball touching his lips while a smirk covered his face. I pleaded with him in between sips of whiskey, my face continuing to grow redder and redder each time.

“It’s real. I promise you it’s real. I’ve been there before” he repeated.

I took another look at my new-found friend. His hands were scaly like old leather, eyes glowing like a candle in the night. With his hand still on my shoulder, he leaned into my ear and whispered “You are going home tonight.”

I smiled and ordered fireball straight. I loved the burn.

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