Greeno swings by the convenience store to pick up a five dollar lottery ticket and a pack of smokes. It’s 1992, so the smokes are just a couple of bucks and almost nobody yells at you for smoking them.
He gets a little change back from the ten dollar bill and it’s no problem to light up right there on the street and walk along with it.
He thinks to himself, maybe a beer at the South Station on the way home, even though he can see his apartment building from where he’s thinking it.
South Station it is.
When he gets there he finds a few pals. There’s Moosehead Dave and Dogboy and The Flash – all real people, despite their cartoon character names.
And there’s Billy, a local Irishman from the days of Andy Capp. And Chris, a bona fide crazy guy who sometimes runs out into the alley when helicopters fly over, where he pretends to talk them through a tiny hidden radio in his collar – he’s deep, deep undercover.
Greeno is not what you’d call a realistic planner. For example, if you ask him how long practically anything will take, his answer is always twenty minutes, and he’s not joking.
He’s also very suggestible.
Do you want to go and catch a movie? Because if you do, Greeno will go and catch a movie with you.
Do you want to put on suits and start drinking vodka at ten o’clock in the morning? Because Greeno will throw on a suit and start drinking vodka at then o’clock in the morning.
And Greeno knows this about himself. His chances of popping by for a single beer are approximately zero percent.
Yet still after just a few seconds walking among the clinking billiard balls and haze of silver smoke and the Simpsons on television, he is surprised by his instant desire to sit down and shoot the breeze for a couple of hours, maybe play a little pool – where on earth did he get that idea?
He frowns down at the two dollars and change in his hand. That certainly doesn’t look like a couple of hours of good times, no sir. Greeno closes his fist around the small sum of money, and shakes it at the sky.
The bartender arrives, a blindingly cheerful force in the otherwise dreary tavern. She says, “What can I get you, Greeno?”
“Hold on,” Greeno replies, and he looks around the room, seeing that he’s drawn the attention of practically everybody. He slaps all of his objects – a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, a five-dollar lottery ticket, two bucks, and five or six coins – onto the bar in front of him. He spots a folded copy of The Other Paper on the bar nearby, so he scoots it over with his objects – that’s his now.
He wishes he hadn’t bought the scratch-off lottery ticket. Greeno scowls at it, seeing it now as three beers he could be drinking. Unless he were to win – how cool would that be?
“Listen,” Greeno says to the room, picking up the ticket from the bar and showing it to everyone. “Who wants to buy in on my scratch-off ticket here? Two-fifty, we’ll split the winnings right down the middle.”
Kind of hoping the bartender would do it, maybe just slide him a couple of beers, keep it all on the down low.
Chris slowly bows his chin to his chest, giggling – that’s normal.
And Billy tries to tell him something but Greeno can’t understand what it is, because Moosehead Dave says something louder with swear words in it.
A couple of other people like the idea of swearing, it really catches on. There’s not much to do except bob back and forth on his heels, nodding patiently while it all dies down. Doesn’t sound like he’s got any takers.
Good one guys. Greeno shoves the two dollars forward and asks for a Budweiser. Somebody claps him on the back and Greeno makes his mouth into a straight line, staring at himself in the mirror above the bar. Whoever it is moves off.
He pushes two of the coins forward and asks for peanuts, as well. The bartender takes most of his money and he pushes the rest forward as a tip, except for a single penny.
Greeno grabs his new copy of The Other Paper and sits down in front of the peanuts and the Budweiser, flipping around to the News of the Weird section. He likes to read them one at a time and then take a nice, thoroughly-entertained swig of beer between them. Usually his favorite beer of the week.
When he is finished, he picks up a penny and starts scratching off the lottery ticket. He wins ten thousand dollars, and puts his cigarette out. It’s time to go now.