Table for One
They were sitting on the floor and she was going through all of them, showing him where she had hidden the words amongst the lines and shapes. The record player was on and the wine poured and as he looked at the drawings he thought about how wonderful she was, both on and off the page. There was so much going on between them, moreso in the form of energy than words, although there were plenty of those as well.
But that was all before, back when she had restored the hope he once had lost about his future, when he told all his friends about the way she made him feel.
Now he was sitting with a beer out in front of him, both of his hands on the bar at either side of the pint glass. He looked hard down at the glass and kept his eyes forward, occasionally spinning the glass with one of his hands. The bar was not crowded and he was one of only two customers, and the bartender came over and told him, “Ain’t doing you no good keeping it inside on the most romantic day of the year,” and he leaned back and crossed his arms on his chest. There were liquor bottles just behind his head and his waist was against the counter. “Come on,” he said, “Out with it. You’ll feel better.”
“I screwed up,” the man told the bartender, “Made her lose faith in me.”
“You sleep around on her?”
“Technically no,” he said, taking a drink, “But I might as well have.”
The bartender nodded his head and said, “I’ve been there.”
The man put both his elbows on the bar and elevated his hands. “I cannot remember ever regretting something this much,” and he pointed to his chest. “When I feel this way I know I have either been done wrong or I have done wrong, and she didn’t do a damn thing wrong.”
“Why did you do it if you like her so much?”
The man looked down at his beer and did not make eye contact with the bartender. “I was thinking selfishly,” he said, “I was selfish and I thought my actions had no consequence because of a stupid technicality.”
The bartender straightened his face and leaned forward, putting his hands on the wood bar. “Do what makes you happy and then worry about the ladies,” the bartender told him. “Why think about them before you settle it all with yourself? It ain’t easy and it can change on a dime for good or for worse.”
He told the bartender with a bite, “It’s too late for those excuses.”
Looking at the man’s face the bartender said, “Come on, don’t act like you’re my age.”
“I’m young enough to believe I’ll eventually regroup,” the man said.
“There, that’s it right there,” interrupted the bartender. “Hold on to that notion and give yourself some time.”
The bartender was smiling and energetic, but when the man did not say anything he refocused and said, “You know what I mean?”
“Sure,” he said, looking away.
“Come on, speak your mind.”
“I’m old enough to question whether something that good happens to one person twice. I might have to wait a while.”
When the bartender did not say anything, the man put a twenty on the bar and stepped out, zipping up his hoodie over the collared shirt and pulling the beanie over his shaved head, and he put both hands in his pockets and looked at his brown shoes. Checking his watch he saw he was right on time, and around the corner he entered the restaurant and told the hostess about the change in reservation.