It was September and someone left the bar door open. By early morning when the third shift arrived, the stale beer and cigarette stink was gone and it smelled like the forest after a rain.
“Rob won’t like this. Rob doesn’t like the door open.”
They nodded and breathed in deep, like it was their first taste of air. A sparrow flew in the open door and landed on an ashtray.
“Look at that.”
“Rob won’t like it.”
The sparrow leveled a beady black eye at the bartender and pecked at a pretzel, but it didn’t leave.
The squirrel was next. It crawled onto a bar stool and stood on its hind legs.
“That’s Bob’s spot, you know.”
Then the rabbit and a robin. A small red fox put his paws on the jukebox and looked at Shirley expectantly. The deer took tiny sips of Nick’s whiskey and snorted. The coyote wound back and forth between Arlene’s legs. The raccoons were beating Bob at darts when a long shadow filled the room. The song on the jukebox stopped.
“They just showed up, Rob.”
The bar door snapped shut with a bang, though no one saw Rob move. In the darkness, the animals disappeared. A lone sparrow hit the window with a thud and fell unmoving to the floor. Rob pushed at it with the toe of his boot.
“I told you not to leave the door open.”
Robyn Ryle started life in one small town and ended up in another just down the river. She’s not sure whether that’s progress or not. She teaches sociology to college students when she’s not writing. The rest of the time is spent with her husband, stepdaughter, and two peculiar cats in their 140-year-old house. You can find her on her blog, you-think-too-much.com, or Twitter.
Lead image: “.just let me iN” (via Flickr user Sippanont Samchai)