He stands on the side of the road,
near-empty flagon in one hand,
waving the other as if conducting
the flies around his face.
As we drive past,
he shouts incomprehensible sounds
through his great mat of beard.
We roundly ignore him.
The dust blows up and settles
in between everything;
even the first beer tastes of it.
Enough of them, though, will wash away
even the most stubborn of hard days.
Later, after it settles into dusk,
we straddle bar stools and wolf down
town burgers like a last meal.
Then, heavy with the burden
of future hangovers,
we look for the right place to tie one on.
There is only one pub in town.
We settle for the beer garden
where we can smoke and watch
the local bird life as they strut past,
dressed in city dresses and
trailing wafts of perfume.
A few hours later, long drive back looms
as last drinks are called.
Our designated driver is
kipping in the back of car,
so we order up as many as we can
to delay the journey back as long as it takes.
A couple of local boys provide
throwing words then chins then fists at each other.
These hardly connect before
the big bouncer pulls them apart,
shuffling them out the door good naturedly.
We laugh and pour the last
beer down our throats.
The driver, grumpy from being woken
and not being able to get pissed with the rest of us,
hurls the car out of the carpark.
The dark road out of town disappears beyond
the headlights; we all stay quiet in case
any noise disturbs the things beyond them.
After a while, the silence settles into snores.
Then, we come up over a rise, where he is
standing in the middle of the road,
clutching the now empty flagon
to his chest.
The driver swears and hits the skids,
waking us all up. As we slow down and swerve
around him, we see his eyes are shut tight,
as if he is sleeping standing up.
He doesn’t even see us.
Somewhat more sober
and definitely more sombre,
we stay awake all the way home.