This girl walks into a bar

For a brief time I thought it would be good to hang out in my neighborhood bar and pretend to be like everyone else there.


At that time the closest bar was the Green Lantern so I went in there. It was long and narrow and dark, and contained not a single green light; the closest thing to a green light were the blue beer signs on the walls by the bar. It was long and narrow and dark and full of old men, and me.

The old men left me alone. I sat at the bar and ate a sandwich, and drank beer, and inhaled second-hand cigarette smoke and watched whatever was on television. One day a guy told me a story about digging tunnels as a youth. One day someone died outside, I think of a heart attack but I didn’t see it. Another day a girl walked in. Being that the bar was long and dark and lined with old men and me and there were two empty stools, one between two old men who looked like winner and runner-up of a Charles Bukowski lookalike contest, and the other beside me, she sat at a booth in the back.

The bartender either didn’t notice her or wasn’t in the mood to wait tables that day, and she eventually came up to the bar, to the empty stool near me, and ordered a beer. “Who’s winning?” she asked me. There was apparently some game on the television, otherwise she wouldn’t have asked that question. I apologized. “I wasn’t watching,” I said, nearly whispering. “I’m conducting a psychological study.”

“Oh,” she said. “I’m taking a psych class. I love psych tests.”

In this manner we started talking. Her beer came, but she didn’t want to sit at the bar because her stuff was back at her booth, so I went back there with her.

“Listen,” she said. She being this girl, tall, with black hair, and glasses, and a nice figure, and a polo shirt underneath a denim jacket. “This is a genuine psychological test. I just took it. Luckily I failed. A friend gave me this test. Listen.”

I didn’t need to listen. I’d heard this bullshit test going around lately. It was an urban legend – that a “famous American psychologist” had developed a one-question test to see if someone had the mentality of a serial killer. As if a single question could expose a psychopath. And this famous American psychologist administered this test to lots of serial killers in prison and they all got it “right”. As if a psychopath’s problem-solving ability were any different from anyone elses, and as if this could be exposed with a single, shallow question.

“The test is just one question. It’s a story about a girl. This girl was, her mother died, she was at her mother’s funeral, where she met a guy. She didn’t know him before. Anyway, she fell totally in love. The guy was amazing, she thought. He was wonderful. She, he was her dream guy and she fell madly in love. But she was too shy to get his name or number there, and when she asked people later no one knew who she was talking about. A few days after that, she killed her own sister. Now this is the question: why did she kill her own sister? What was her motive?”

I looked at her with the coldest psycho eyes I could muster. Being a genuine sociopath, it is something I do convincingly. “Well,” I said. “The logical reason would be because he would come to her sister’s funeral too, and she’d have another chance to meet him.”

She just stared at me.

“How’d I do?” I asked her.

“You’ve taken this test before, haven’t you?” She smiled.

“Uh-uh. What’s the answer? Is it a real test?”

“It’s… a famous psychologist gives this test, he made this test to see…” she stopped and looked around the bar.

“You really have nice eyes,” I said. “Really, like sweet little grapes.”

She finished her beer and looked at her watch. “Oh, jeeze. I have a study group.”

“I could walk you over. It’s getting dark. I’d love to talk psych with you some more.”

“No, um, math. I…”

“Tell me where you live, at least.”

“No, I’ve got to be going. Really nice talking to you.”

I watched her run out the door, glancing one last time as she exited the bar to make sure I wasn’t following her. I felt like pinning her down on the hood of a parked car and shouting in her face, “psychos don’t fall in love, you idiot.” But my beer came and I drank that.

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