Closing Time – Episode 11

XI

I walk away from the flirting-in-progress and wonder how my sister’s doing on her date. A pang of loneliness hits me, but I brush it off. I don’t have time for a love life. Dating, romance…I don’t get days off and when I do, they’re spent sleeping or planning for the next major event at the bar.

And wouldn’t my luck just have it, the next customers at the bar are a couple. I think.

“What can I get you guys?”

“She’ll have an Amaretto Sour, and I’ll take a Heineken draft.” So, he’s ordering for her, and she doesn’t look pissed about it. In fact, she doesn’t look…anything. Her expression is closest to boredom. Interesting. If a guy ordered for me, I’d probably start swinging. I’ve got a voice, and I can make my own decisions.

I get their drinks with a polite smile and see Ashley walking toward me. She waits until I’ve finished with the couple before talking.

“So, you and John have been working together for a while?”

“Yeah. Why?” As if I don’t already know.

She shrugs and keeps her head down. “No reason.”

I look past her to John and raise an eyebrow. He merely lifts his hands up like he has no idea why I’m looking at him that way, so I decide to leave it alone for now. Workplace drama is not something I want to be involved in, and I trust John to keep it out of the bar.

“Hey, Ash? Can you handle things alone for a few minutes?”

“Sure.”

I head for the restrooms to check if everything is clean and stocked before entering my office to get more toilet paper and some disinfectant cleaner. Why do women have to pee on the seats? It’s disgusting. Don’t they look before they flush? I have those paper liner things in there, too, so they don’t have to hover.

And now I’ve grossed myself out. I shouldn’t have checked the bathrooms before the break.

I pull my phone out to check on Gina, and remember she’s with a cop. My arm falls limp at my side. For a moment, I’m not sure what to do with myself. I’m used to checking on her because she’s usually with the loser. But now she’s with a nice guy. At least, I hope she is. My maternal instincts start to kick in before I shake it off. She’s fine. I’m sure of it.

Unfortunately, now that my reason for taking a break has vanished, I have to face the toilets.

By the time I get back to the bar, it’s been twenty minutes. Ashley seems to have everything in control, serving drinks with a smile. The couple from earlier have had a couple more drinks, and their dynamic has changed. I watch them from the corner of my eye as I serve other customers.

I’ve only ever seen it in movies before, but I swear, they’re taking turns giving each other longing looks when they think the other isn’t paying attention. I smile, realizing their theme song is Escape (The Pina Colada Song). Stifling an urge to point it out, I turn back to the wall to locate the bottle of Absolut.

Ashley moves behind me to get a new customer’s order.

“No, thanks. I’m waiting for Lucia.” Deep male voice. Vaguely familiar.

My head pops up and I try to see who it is in the mirror, but Ashley is blocking him.

“I’ll be right with you,” I call over my shoulder and finish making the Lemondrops. When I spin around to deliver them, I nearly drop the tiny shotglasses.

Casanova. Square-jawed, straight-nosed, and clean-shaven this time.

My heart starts pounding, my belly starts fluttering, and—dammit—I almost trip over my own feet. And that makes me angry.

“What are you doing here?” I demand, marching over to him.

“Do you greet all your customers like this, or am I special?”

He has a point.

“Fine.” I switch to my most sugary, most fake voice. “What can I get you, sir?”

His teeth are blinding, almost unnaturally white. I know this because his mouth has just twisted into a smile that would make a nun lift her—

I refuse to finish that thought. I’m a Catholic, for heaven’s sake.

“To drink,” I amend, through gritted teeth, and resist the urge to cross myself.

“Just water tonight.”

Once I’ve slid the glass to him, I walk to the other side of the bar and plant myself there. Ashley comes over.

“Is that your boyfriend? He’s hot.”

Yes, he is.

“No, he’s not my boyfriend. He’s annoying. In fact, I want you to take care of his drinks for the rest of the night.”

“What if he asks for you again?”

“Tell him he doesn’t drink if he doesn’t get it from you.”

“No problem.” And she looks quite happy to be serving him.

I manage to ignore him for another hour or so, serving my customers and even getting to play a dice game with a couple of college students and John. The loser has to buy the rest a drink. Well, except for me, because I’m not drinking.

“Luc, how come you never lose?” John asks, complaining about having to buy yet another round. He’s really terrible at this game.

“My family played a lot of Yahtzee when I was growing up.” Not that it really has anything to do with how to throw dice.

Our banter is interrupted by the sound of shouting, and the crowd chanting, “Fight!”

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4 responses to “Closing Time – Episode 11

  1. This was a very enjoyable installment. Even though this is the first piece of it I have ever read, I was able to get into it quiet easily. I found the main character’s voice was very likable, but I couldn’t tell if it was male or female until I checked the cast of characters. My main problem was that it is written in present tense, which I usually can’t stand. For this short snippet, it was fine, but I don’t know how much more I would be able to read without it driving me crazy. I think the reason a lot of people don’t like stories told in the present tense is because it hinders believability since it gives the impession that the narrator is writing everything down as it happens, which nobody does…

    • Thanks, Ruth! Normally, first person AND present tense drives me batty, but I wanted to try it and this was a fun project. It’s an unbelievable challenge to keep it up because I’m so used to writing past tense (and historical, LOL). I’m very glad you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Pingback: #TuesdaySerial Report – Week 16 – August 17, 2010 | Inspired by Real Life

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