Victoria J.

Salt, Pepper and Napkins

“And what’s your problem, sir?” The bartender asked the drunken man, sitting alone at the nearly silent bar.

“You see that pretty lady over there?” he slurred. The words were accompanied by a hand gesture in the direction of a woman at the other end of the bar; from whom the only noise in the room trickled out every few minutes as they giggled at something her partner had said.

“Yes I do.”

“She used to be my girl.”

“Oh, another one o’ these stories,” the bartender rolled his eyes as he plopped another shot of Crown Royal in front of the man. “Well, out with it, I’ve gotta be home by two”

“You see, it’s kinda like these condiments here,” the drunkard
said as he reached out for the salt, pepper and napkins on the counter before him. As he pulled them close in his drunken state, the salt fell off the counter and shattered on the floor; the grains of salt scattered like marbles. “Oh-no! I’ll – I’ll get that,” he mumbled as he fell to the ground. Then he began attempting to pick up the salt grain by grain.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll get it,” the bartender grumbled, as he rounded the corner of the bar, with a broom and dustpan in hand. After helping the drunkard back onto his stool, the bartender stooped down and began to sweep up the shattered glass and spilled salt. “So, you gonna get on with your story or not?”

“Oh, right, my story. I nearly forgot.”

“Haven’t we all,” retorted the bartender. “Okay, hand me that salt over there.”

After receiving the salt, the man continued. “So, I’m the salt here, completely bitter and often a complete mess, scattered all over the floor. She is the pepper. And finally, that man to her right is the napkin.”

“But of course,” the bartender butted in as he refilled the whiskey glass. “Salt and pepper, me and her, go perfectly together. We are meant to, expected to, be together. But the napkin, him, is softer than salt, and she chose him, to be more … comfortable. You know what I mean?”

“Don’t we all,” the bartender replied as he grabbed himself a Bud Light and joined the drunk on the barstools. Together, the two sat and drank in complete silence. Just sat and drank.

Two hours later, the bartender looked up, his third bottle empty, and admitted, “She used to be my girl too.”


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.