Retirement. Short Story.

Up ahead is the bar, I try not to break into a jog. Everything has to be normal when entering, those are the rules. It’s a little cold and I pull my jacket a bit closer. I hate the cold, it’s always been something I’ve hated, ever since I can remember. I try to push the thought out of my mind, it’s times like this that I start to miss my old job, that never ends well. Usually ends with me being depressed for a few months. It isn’t so bad, I have heating after all and it’s not like it’s cold all the time or anything. The bar looks pretty crappy from the outside, dark and dingy, but that’s the way it has to be. Don’t want people to just wander in off the streets. There’s a sign outside advertising the prices, which are double what they are in the trendiest clubs. It helps ensure that no alcoholics or the like stumble in, looking for a dive bar atmosphere.

When I reach the door I push it open, wincing as it shrieks. Damn rusty hinges. I understand the need for it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I step into the short corridor then push the second door open, this one opens smoothly, silently. I step into the bar to find it occupied by only two customers. Damn. The bartender is at the other end of the bar, looking bored. The two customers are frowning at a map, stupid tourists. Why the hell would they stop in here? Hell from the outside it looks like you’d get stabbed. Don’t they have dodgy places where they’re from? I pass by moving as quietly as possible, hoping they don’t notice me. I continue on into the bathroom. They’re much cleaner then you’d expect, white tiles gleaming everywhere. They smell nice too, like fresh flowers. I lean against the sink and wait. No point in my going back out for a while, not like I’d have anything to do.

I stand in the bathroom for almost ten minutes when there’s a faint flickering from the lights, from outside I can hear music and conversation. Finally. I push myself off the sink and go back outside. The bar is busy, but not yet full. People line the bar, chatting to each other and the bartenders. I approach a free spot and wait, a second later a bartender takes my order, a few more seconds after that I have my drink in front of me. I take it and move to one of the tables against the wall. Sometimes I like chatting, other times I just want a bit of silence for a while, a chance to decompress. Most people in here understand that. The chairs are comfortable and I settle in quickly. The bar is brighter than it was when I first entered, it looks cleaner, feels airier. I don’t understand the mechanics behind it myself, though I’m sure they’ve been explained to me before while I was drunk. Either way the illusion is dropped now that the normies are gone. If I had been here when they arrived I would have been switched out with everyone else, we wouldn’t be able to get new drinks, but we’d be able to sit around and chat to one another at least.

The door opens again and I cringe slightly, expecting more tourists, instead a tall man enters, he’s wearing a long black leather coat and black sunglasses. Fuck. That prick. I drain my drink and go to the bar for another. Hopefully he’ll find someone else to bother. I mean, I know he’s my brother and everything, but dudes depressing as hell. I go back to my spot as he gazes around the bar, finally he sees someone and wanders off in their direction, I can feel the people who escaped collectively sigh in relief. He isn’t a bad guy, my brother, but he just moans a lot. It’s very tiring. I mean, no one here is ecstatic about the life they live, but hell, we deal with it. Not him, he’s always talking about the glory days, about how life was so much better back then, about how everything is terrible now. We get it, your life sucks, give it a rest. A few people have tried to talk to him about it, even tried to convince him to go see someone but he wasn’t having any of it. I glance around the room again, taking note of who I knew. I knew all of them. God, that was kind of depressing. There haven’t been any new comers in a good while. Well, there was that bloke from Africa a few years ago, but he got pretty bummed out and ended up leaving when none of us had heard of him. What did he expect? I mean he came from some tribe that only had three hundred members. All dead now, avalanche or mudslide or earthquake. I wasn’t really paying attention. Still, we were nice to him, welcomed him into the fold. Not our fault he buggered off. You get that sometimes, the ones who can’t deal with it, it’s sad, but that’s life. I mean we’ve all been through it, and we’re the only ones who’ll ever understand it. This is the closest thing we have to a support group after all.

After I finish my second drink I make a quick round of the bar, say hello here and there before I go up and order my third. A double this time, hell, I deserve it and it isn’t like we can get hangovers. I return to my table to find a woman sitting there, tall, gorgeous, and my sister. She stands, we hug.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve been here, how are ya?”
“I was swamped in work. I’m good, did I miss much?”
“Not really, same old, same old.”
She nodded, then sipped at her drink. Bitch never had to go up to the bar to order, the bartender always came to her.
We drank in companiable silence, it was nice seeing family that wasn’t constantly depressed.
“Are you still working in that bank?”
“No, not any more, I’ve taken up modelling.”
“Think that’s a good idea?”
She shrugs, “Why not? I’m doing pretty well for myself. I might as well build up a nest egg.”
“Just be careful, that’s all. I don’t want you getting in trouble.”
“I won’t, don’t worry.”
She says that, but we both know I will until she stops. Doesn’t do to get too well known. We all agreed to keep low profiles. It was safer that way.
“You still working in that dreary office?”
“Yup. Still there. It isn’t that bad really. The people are nice.”
She laughed, even her laugh was beautiful. That might sound weird to say, coming from a sibling, but it’s the truth, plain and simple, not that she was either of those things.
“You always say that. At least try and go for something interesting, something you enjoy.”
“Yeah well, there isn’t much I enjoy these days. You need college and degrees and that’s just too much effort.”
“I’m sure someone could fake a few documents for you.”
I nod, it’s true but it just seems seedy to me. Things just weren’t as exciting these days.
She frowned at me.
“Nothing, I’m just trying to remember your name.”
“Yeah well. I’ll choose something better next time.”
“Make sure you do.”
I never bothered trying to remember my sisters names, she went through them at an almost alarming speed. I just called her Susie in public, it was easy enough and she hated it. We’d all had many names over the years, it gets tiring after awhile but it isn’t like we can stop. Maybe someday we’d end up getting caught or going public, but for now we liked our secrets. Besides, humanities scepticism would keep that little secret under wraps for a long time, I mean, after all, who would believe in retired gods? Even saying it sounds weird. I personally dislike it, I mean it’s not like we retired, it’s not like we even could. Booted out was more like it. Not that I’m bitter of course, we all knew it would happen to us sooner or later. Still, never fun when it happens to you.
“Oh look, there’s Bob.”
My sister stood and left the table, off to make her rounds. I stayed put. The talk with her had taken away any desire I had to interact with others. Something about her was slightly draining these days.

I finished my drink and studied the empty glass, trying to decide on whether or not I’d get another. Finally I stood and grabbed my jacket. No point in hanging around here any more. I went to the bar and paid off my tab, then left. Outside it was even colder. I should have worn a thicker jacket.

The walk to my place took almost half an hour, I could have taken the subway, but the thought of being crammed in with so many people freaked me out a little. I liked my personal space. My apartment was small, but large enough for me. After all, it wasn’t like I’d be bringing someone home. It was just myself. Sometimes I got a pet, but I hadn’t had one in a good while. Maybe I should get one, I did enjoy having pets, it was nice coming home to someone, even if it was an animal. I don’t date if you were wondering. I’ve been down that road many times and eventually it just gets kind of boring, well, after all the sad stuff. Once inside I throw a frozen meal into the oven, that was one of the great things about being an ex-god, I could eat what ever I wanted and still stay in shape. I try to keep the place tidy, but it can be hard sometimes, books take up a lot of space and it makes the place look a little cluttered. They help pass the time. Books and video games are really what I spend most of my money on. You need to fill up the nights with something when you don’t need sleep.

It might seem like an all right life to someone who’s looking in, but it’s kind boring really. I mean, everything’s the same and nothing ever changes. Sure I can get hurt, but it heals quickly and won’t kill me. Humanity could crumble, leaving behind nothing, but we’d still be here. Hanging out and looking for something to pass the time. I dread the day that happens. Hopefully science fiction will become reality and we’ll be able to explore the universe personally. That’d be interesting, for a while at least. And when humanity collapses it’d be more fun out there than stuck on this rock.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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