Prompt Images

My first job in the city was at a joke of a bar in midtown, and it was arduous. I guess you could say I came up in the school of hard knocks.

The bar had regulars.

Like who? Like Wooden Shoe. “Wouldn’t you like a drink?” I asked. Wooden Shoe did. Many drinks. She had a hollow leg. Drank until she slurred her words. “Woodenshoe like another drink?” she begged. Wait, wasn’t I behind the bar? Shouldn’t I be asking her? I slung her a Singapore Sling and moved onto my next.

“What can I—”


Damned Interrupting Cow.

Could never figure out if she wanted her bourbon neat or on the rocks. I could never even finish my damned question. But I liked her because she cut me short on everything but my tips.

Amish, well, he was related to Wooden and wanted everyone to know it. “Amish who? Amish Shoe!” he’d bellow.

“You just saw me yesterday,” I said.

“What?” he said.

“You just said, ‘I miss you.”

“No,” said Amish. “I said “I’m a Shoe. I’m Wooden’s brother.”

It was loud, to be fair, with everyone knocking their knuckles on the bar and the tables and their companions bellowing, “Who’s there?”

Then came Atch. Atch was religious. Always wanted to be blessed.

There was the gray fox I called “Swiss Miss.” A little old lady. A little old lady who could sure yodel.

Cash was a character. Cash who?

He’d never touch a cashew. Only ate peanuts. But he’s allergic to them. As Cash puffed up, I went to find Doctor, but Doctor Who doesn’t know a thing about medicine and Cash died, refusing imaginary offers of cashews as his face bloated and turned purple, and the Doctor fretted about Daleks.

Orange you glad I didn’t I didn’t call Hike?

Hike who? Exactly. Cash was dying, and short Japanese poems were not going to help. An ambulance arrived and they loaded up Cash like cargo. Cargo who? No, cargo vroom, vroom. So did the ambulance.

The other patrons barely noticed, as they were so absorbed in their affairs. Yah came in, looking for somebody. Who? I don’t know. I never search on Yahoo. I use Bing. Somehow, Yah found Justin.

Time for Happy Hour.

“Tank,” he said, waiting for me to ask. But there was a crush at the bar, so I just said “You’re welcome” and went onto the next customer. Can’t believe Cash almost died on my watch and these people are still streaming in, leading into cheap gags.

“Isabel!” she said. No, you floozy. The bell’s not working and you didn’t have to knock. The bar’s open and so’s the door.

“Candice?” Yes, this can be happening. It’s been happening all night and will happen until close. Every single time I get a customer, they want me to ask them who they are and answer with a stupid pun.

Then a guy walks in and doesn’t tell me his name at all. He just looks me in the eye and asks, “why the long face?”

So I tell him I’m sad because I’ve answered so many questions that it’s made me hoarse.

It wasn’t the worst night, though. The priest, the rabbi and the minister were thankfully out of town.

Michael Maiello

Michael Maiello is a New York-based playwright, author and humorist. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, The New Yorker, and Weekly Humorist. He has two plays available through

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more