Chunk Barnley

They ask you to sign in. It’s not a membership thing. I don’t think it’s even a safety thing. They’re not keeping record in case the building goes up in flames and they need to confirm that you are not one of the charred lumps on the ground near the larger charred lump that used to be the pool table. They just want your name. A name. Any name. It’s to fill some weird self-validation quota like guest books at weddings––“See, people came.” I never put my real one. I’m not paranoid or anything, I just go out to places like this to luxuriate in my anonymity, not reveal it in the first forty-five seconds. The cashier at IKEA once asked for my area code and I nearly threw my RÅSKOG into the soft-serve machine.

Smirking, halfway finished scrawling my pseudonym in the bar’s book of collected names, is when the pen stopped working. I shook it, scratched into the margins and nearly through the page––dead. This pseudonym was near perfection, my best yet, and now it lay undone. I could’ve just left it and grabbed a beer, no one would’ve checked to make sure my book-name matched my life-name; but I needed this. I asked the bartender for a working pen. They had none. Neither did the women at the bar. My friends waited for me at the table in the back but I couldn’t get myself past coat check. I left. If couldn’t be someone else in here, I’d be no-one out there.