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Last Man Standing
        "Let's ride the angels goodbye."
                 Jack Micheline


Just before the bar war to end all
bar wars, he girl with an unbreakable
heart leaned over the bar, ripped
the buttons off her shirt and said,
"I don't need no ink or silicone to
prove I'm a 100% Grade A
American Babe."
The way she said it seemed more
like a statement of fact than an offer
or a dare: regardless, no one was
inclined to disagree. So the barman
was thinking, momentarily distracted
before the overhead rail lights were
pulled down, long neck Buds hit the back
bar bottles and wall to wall chaos ensued:
a flash flood of violence taking out
everything in its way. If this were
an indie movie all these bodies in motion
would be slowed to half speed,
made into a grotesque ballet,
a techno Rave with flickering lights
momentarily revealing distorted faces,
flexing muscles, a strange, almost
beautiful, mise en scene only a 911
call could interrupt, could make complete,
with police whistles, drawn truncheons,
and Taser light shows; but it wasn't
a movie, only something like real life.
Hours after, the blood dries on
the hardwood floors, the click of
the muted jukebox cycling most
played songs, priming the invisible
crowds, and an almost suffocating
rush of forced wet air as the lifeless
night turns into day. The last man
standing behind the bar sips his
bottomless pint, and cut glass shots,
through a short straw, dulled pains slowly
ebbing into an alcoholic daze.

           alan catlin