The burst of air was so cold, I am certain I saw ice particles form as he pulled open the outer plexiglass door. In hopes of keeping the cold out and the heat in, I had put up one of those pre-fab vestibule enclosures. Most city restaurants did likewise. Seldom do they work, and whoever is seated near the door receives a jolt of changing temperature with each new entering patron, but it looks like we are trying.
The room itself is a bar. Just a long bar with ugly dimpled, little looped, black and red carpeting covering from one end to the other. With a rug covered floor, rather than shiny, too highly lacquered wood, it surprisingly, does not reek of beer.
He shuddered as the door hinge quickly pulled itself shut behind him. I thought he was bringing a +1 with him, but he came through alone. Holy Moly, could not be much colder, could it, he muttered seemingly to himself, but loudly enough that I heard him. There was no one else in the bar, and therefore no din to cover any commentary.
“Where is she?” I asked, acting as nonchalant as possible. I stood on the patron side of the bar. The bar itself is quite high, and when I was last measured, the height line on my mother’s kitchen doorframe had barely hit the 5’ mark. I leaned on my elbow and rested my head in my hand.
“Who?” he shrugged, turning the corners of his lips downwards.
My voice pitched upwards, “Her, the woman you said you were bringing to dinner.” Nonchalance vanished, and reproach set in. Perhaps he really did forget her. Inside, I giggled at the mysterious date pacing in her black cowboy boots, too tight jeans, and white button down with one button too many undone. In my self-deprecating mirage, she had even blow-dried her dark brown, layered hair. The forgotten woman or rather the woman whom he had forgotten.
“Oh, did I say I was bringing someone? Well, I guess I forgot her.”
Confimed that latter.
He tugged at his jacket sleeve and pulled one arm through and then the other.
“Whatever,” I said and ended the conversation. The vision dissipated.
I walked behind the bar, pulled a frosted mug from the lower freezer, and stopped at the beer tap in the middle of the bar. A gurgle, spurt and an elongated hiss came from the nozzle. White foam dribbled down the edge of the glass.
“Who did not replace the keg?” I shouted to the empty, minus 2, bar. I worked alone most nights, so it was quite obvious who had not rolled it on its edge from the storage area. Note to self—needed, buff young dude to haul and hoist kegs. It was such a nuisance, I therefore avoided it until it was too late. Maybe he would go to get it, since he had no one to excuse himself from as he swiveled on the barstool, making a loud squeak like a child twisting from side-to-side.
“Stop that horrible noise, and can you do something useful for me?” I asked, the latter part with a calm pleasantry to my voice.
He got off of the stool, and his boot heel hit the floor.
* * *
Not a boot heel at all, must have been the alley tomcat dumpster diving in the garbage cans again. Another night of stinted sleep, with a piercing headache to follow. I looked up at the ceiling, swearing that I could smell the beer hissing from the tap. I rolled over and looked at the clock, 3:42am.