Harry sipped at his beer as if it were some filthy thing. In a way, it was; he wanted badly to reach inebriation, to embrace the spinning and whirling world of drunk-dom, but found the process to be laborious.
He sat in a corner booth by the window. The bar was almost empty, except for a couple of bored-looking older guys who smoked cigarettes, spoke in grunts and nodded grimly. They seemed to be talking about the world and its gurgling flush down the great metaphysical can.
The jukebox was playing something in German, just a raw voice backed up by a lone accordion. It gloried in its spareness and its sadness.
A ruckus began to pick up outside, indecipherable yells and then the dull thuds of limbs colliding. Harry peeked through the window to get a sense of the struggle. There in the chill December air, three men dressed as Santa Claus were stomping on a fireman. Their black heavy Santa boots were methodically burrowing into the firefighter’s rib cage, even through his protective coat.
“Son of a bitch!” cried the downed man as he flailed impotently at them from his back.
Harry knew he had to take action.
He looked over at the old men, but they just squinted bitterly at the intrusion into their litany of doom-saying. Harry would go it alone then. He stepped from the bar and felt the winter air slice at him like a drunken lover brandishing a busted wine bottle. The stomping Santas paid him no mind as they took to their knees and launched blows on and around the fireman’s vulnerable temples. Harry reached into his pocket and retrieved his little point-and-shoot camera. He began snapping away, flash and all. This seemed to alert all four combatants to his presence.
“Son of a bitch!” shouted the fireman. “Help me fer Chrissakes!”
Harry took another shot. “I can’t get there right now.”
The Santas shrugged and resumed smashing away at his head and face. Blood began spraying in abbreviated droplets before landing on the sidewalk, to shimmer sickly in the chill darkness.
“You can do it!” shouted Harry. “You’re gonna pull through!”