Smile, Baby

sniper

I get out of the movie, pick up a four pack of beer. My night plan is to figure out what that smell is in my refrigerator.

I open the fridge. An avocado that’s been there since I got back from vacation, a carton of week old Azerbaijani food giving birth. There is some milk; what used to be milk. Some fruit, an onion, growing an onion. My phone buzzes.

“I want to drink,” Y says.

I close the fridge.

We meet at a bar down the street. It’s guts are a pirate ship, it’s bartenders, Siberian. They make their own liquor. They are drunk.

I order a glass of something called “beard”

It tastes like garlic, bread, and vodka. An Asian looking man stumbles over himself, sitting at the bar.

“You! American!” he cries. I nod.

“You F…I…B!”

I frown. “CIA?”

“YES!” he cries, “YES,” he grasps my hand in two of his. They are soft, the way old hands are soft. He points to Y. He gives her a thumbs up. Then me, he smiles.

“Friends!” he tells her, pointing at me, then himself. Half his teeth are gold. He says he is from Baikal, Siberia, twice

Y walks away, to the other room. I unlatch myself from the man. He pats me on the back, winks, and goes back to his drink.

The tables in the other room are connected to the ceiling by chains, swinging. I sit down. A sip and a half later, the old Siberian is taking a seat with us.

“Friends!” he says. He continues, his English is not so good.

“I, sixty-” he frowns, drinks “eight?”

I nod, “twenty-seven,”

“Aha!” he cries. He turns to Y.

“Nineteen,” she says. He looks at me, grins like a dog, his teeth glint.

“You remind me of my granddaughter,” he says, then adds, “if I were younger I’d…” he wiggles his eyebrows instead of finishing the sentence. Y gives him a thumbs up. He nudges me with his elbow.

“But, you don’t smile?” he accuses her. “Smile,” he says, reaching across for the corner of her mouth. She backs away. He shrugs. He turns to me.

“I was–” he frowns, holds up a gun made of nothing and looks through it.

“Sniper?”

He claps his hands. “Yes, Sniper!” he pats me on the back.

Y looks across the table at me.

“Could you kill someone?” she asks.

The Siberian man beside me hums along to Bon Jovi.

“Yes,” I tell her. She looks back to the man. He is crying.

I look back at Y. She is looking at him.

“Could you kill him?” she asks.

I look at the man. Tears are catching in the wrinkles of his face. He takes his drink in one. He puts the glass, lips first, on the table. He looks at my drink accusingly. I down it, place the glass on the table. He flips it. He continues to cry.

I watch Y, Y watches him, he looks at the back of his hands. Bon Jovi ends. The tears dry. We stand. I motion for the door. Y nods.

Outside, the weepy Siberian finds us. We walk over, next to the canal. I light a cigarette. One for me, one for Y. The man stumbles over.

“I have stories!” he says. “Many stories,” he adds. His face goes serious. I look at Y, she looks back.

I take the Siberian man by the arms, pat them twice, and throw him over the railing of the canal. He is old, and drunk. Winter isn’t quite over, the water is cold. He floats away, sinking. I look back at Y. I shrug.

She smiles. We finish our cigarettes.

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