Over The Shoulder

     He looked over his shoulder.
     “What the hell are you looking at, He? You son of a bitch.”
     He knew it was true, his mother was a Bitch. Continuing to look over his shoulder, He stared into Mucks big, red eyes. Muck was lucky, his real name was Rick, Muck was just a nickname. Muck raised his glass and the shaking of his hand caused the ice cubes to rattle softly.
     “Here’s to ya, you stupid fuck.”
     “Thanks, Muck. You bastard.”
     Muck flinched. It was true, he was a bastard.
     “You don’t have to get personal, He.”
     “Oh, I forgot...”
     “It’s cool.”
     “No sweat?”
     The bartender addressed the two patrons, inquiring as to whether either needed another drink. Muck rattled his ice and ordered one.
     “I’ve got to get home to the Little Lady,” He said, grinning.
     Muck laughed, it was funny that He had married a gal named “Little Lady.”
     He laughed, too.
     “Later, He.”
     “Later, Bartender.”
     With a name like Bartender, it was not much of a surprise that Bartender ended up in a tavern. It was owned by Boss, who was rarely around. The name of the place was Tavern. Period. Says it all, Boss would say, then cough up a storm. He knew he was dying, but No One Else did not know. No One Else was Boss’s son, and would inherit Tavern. Period. Not being a drinker, he often joked that some day the watering hole would make a great coffee house.

     “Dr. Heard, how long have I got, really?” Boss Else had asked the previous day.
     “I don’t know, it’s hard to say, really.” He had a problem with time- couldn’t tell it, couldn’t keep it.
     He became frustrated when he had to deal with issues concerning it.
     “See Dr. Doctor,” He said. That was his partner in The Practice.
     “I hear ya, Chief.”
     “Later, Boss.”

     The next day after work and a quick stop at Tavern. Period., He took a drive in the country. Sometimes He just had to leave City. Suddenly it struck him that names were like jokes. Bad jokes. Who had started this absurd tradition? Why was the town named “City” ? 
     He died shortly thereafter, never sharing his revelation, never finding the answers to his questions.
     The heart attack caused him to drive into a tree.

     “He was dead before he hit the tree,” Dr. Doctor had told Nobody.
     Nobody Heard, He’s brother, had taken the news hard. Not Everyone was saddened as was Anybody Else. Everyone, the Heard family lawyer, and Anybody, his assistant, tried to comfort Nobody at the funeral. Bartender and Rick arrived, and Everyone asked them to lend a hand as pallbearers. Boss Else and his son arrived (no relation to Anybody). No One Else was in bad spirits because Boss had just told him that he too would soon be dead, it was just a matter of time. Coffee was the last thing on his mind until she showed up to comfort him. Just then, Little Lady Heard arrived with her mother-in-law, Widow Bitch.
     Silence fell over the funeral home.
     Nobody escorted them down the isle.

     The funeral went well, Everyone thought later. He would have liked it.

A short story by Scott C. Stuart

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