Excerpt: "The Wrecker," by Ernest Finney

I’m sitting at the bar in the semi-gloom of the Silver Dollar, as far away as I can get from the loud music. A babe comes through the door. It’s still before nine, too early for anyone else to be eyeing the sign taped to the bar mirror: nobody’s ugly at 2 a.m. I watch her in the mirror. She looks around—a dozen or so patrons, the usual crowd. The Dollar is still a working-man’s bar, no video games, no retro pinball machines, no happy hour, no grill. The clientele comes from the big Basque bakery next door and what’s left of the failed industrial park down the road where I live. About a fourth of the customers are women: after eight hours of unloading ovens in 110-degree heat, they’re here to replace body fluids, and they’re not romantically inclined, but that’s weekdays. Fridays—pay days—like tonight, and Saturday nights are different.

This woman is dressed mostly in white. Blond, probably in her late twenties, shapely. Stunning. If we’re looking her over, she’s looking us over too, unhurried, calm, unaware of the effect she’s having, or maybe just used to it. Her eyes are adjusting to the low fluorescent lights and the kind of alcohol-induced boredom that takes the place these days of outlawed cigarette smoke. The woman walks over and sits down beside me. I look what I am: a forty-three-year-old tow-truck owner and operator. Tall, like my mother’s brother. I went through the windshield of a Camaro when I was a kid and the scars crisscross both sides of my face. I briefly thought I was tough, and got my nose broken twice while I was in the army. I stay in shape because I’m crawling around wrecked cars night and day. My hair is thinning on top, which I don’t notice too often. Even in my driver’s license photo, I look normal.
Read a more from Ernest Finney's story at the Sewanee Review website, and pick the summer 2013 issue to read the whole thing.