Rough Trade (Garth Miró)

That guy looks a lot like Francis Bacon, I think, when I spot this older man sitting alone at the other end of the bar. In front of him is a folded newspaper, a pack of cigarettes, and what looks like a full baguette, but must not be a that, for only absolute psychotics would toss a nice fresh loaf on the counter here. There’s a thin sticky pool sloshing half the time, carrying napkin wads and chewed straws and brave (dumb) roaches. The bartender is far past his prime, really, he should be dead any day now, and that would be for the best, he’s way behind on his loans, clearly he doesn’t enjoy what he does anymore, and forgets. I look closer and see it’s not Francis Bacon, and that relieves me since it would be impossible. 

Triptych of my life: fuck, fuck, fuck.

It’s a slow night. I’m bored and starting to feel that warning throb of sick. I need a bag; I’d do anything to get the money to score a bag, and so goddammit to take my mind off it I keep thinking about why this man looks so much like him, moving like that, exactly the way I’ve seen Bacon move in this documentary of the British art scene I’ve been watching a lot lately. I order another drink. Maybe there might be little Francis Bacons in his blood, doing their thing down there. Little them rooting around in that rough trade he so famously loved. Violence, alcohol, Everests of cocaine; real fun stuff shooting out in all directions, bloating him, bursting the blood vessels in his cheeks and nose, him, over there, at a microscopic level. He indulged and the spirit of St. Bacon was let in. That’s what’s changing him outside. The outside changes the in. Look at a person who’s smoked dust for years, what it does to their skin. Look at someone who listens to Jazz.

OK, now he’s getting up and coming over. I think he’s taken the bait—noticed me staring. 

“Do you wanna fuck?” he asks 

“Well, I am working.”

“Yea, I figured. Are you good now? I’ve got money.”

“OK.”

“There’s a hotel down the street.”

“What kinda scene?”

“Rough.”

“How rough?”

“Very.”

“That will cost extra.”

“I have money.”

“A lot?”

“Yes, I’m very rich and famous.”

“And famous?”

“Yes.”

“What’s your name?”

“Francis Bacon.”

“No it’s not.”

“Come on, I want to keep this feeling.”

“Uh, OK, well, what’s that you’re carrying? The soggy thing?”

“A full baguette.”

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Garth Miró is a writer from Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Litro, Sundog Lit, XRAY, SVJ, Expat, Misery Tourism, Shark Reef, and PoliticsNY.com. He was a semifinalist for North American Review’s 2021 Kurt Vonnegut Prize.

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image: Jade Hawk