Time in a Guinness
It was a face I had known for over twenty Aprils. It was a voice I had instantly recognized. She sat down on a wooden stool next to me. She examined The Moon bar, and she looked at the other people in my community.
“So,” she said. “This is were you spend your time?”
I nodded, I sipped the Guinness.
“Yeah, if I’m not at work,” I said. “It’s close by.”
She shrugged, she pulled at her frilly blouses lace sleeves. I had smelled the fragrance I’d given her for her birthday.
“We need to settle this,” she said. She opened her purse. She exhaled. “One more tax return, and then you’re free of me.”
“Fair enough,” I said. I nodded, I gripped the cold Guinness.
“Where has time passed,” she said. She opened a folder. She set an ink pen in front of me. “Right?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think it’s a constant.”
“You appear well, tanned, letting your hair grow?” she said. She had slid the tax filing documents in front of me. “You have some forms to sign.”
I glanced at the government form, I noted the typed numbers in black boxes. I turned to the colorful tabbed page, I signed it in the rectangular area what would have passed as my signature in a court proceeding.
“I’m due for a haircut,” I said. I her handed back the pen, and I slid the papers back over toward her. “There you go.”
“Thank you,” she said. She scooped up the papers, neatly placed them in the folder, and carefully stuffed them into her purse.
“Can I get you something?” Kate said.
“No,” she said. She gripped the top of her pink Jimmy Choo bag that I had bought her, for an occasion I had not remembered. “I’m fine, for now.”
Kate quietly walked away, and she moved down the bar.
“Why’d you come?” I said. I stared over at her. “I didn’t need to sign those, e-signature could have worked.”
“I know,” she said. She stared down at the tiled floor. “Maybe, I just wanted to see that you’re all right.”
“I’m fine,” I said. I looked away from her. “You look well, I’m happy for you.”
“Where did my guy go?” She said. She sighed, she fiddled with an antique ring, and she pursed her thin lips.
“I guess I could ask you the same?” I said. “Right?”
“Life can be cruel,” she said. She coughed. “I should go.”
We sat quietly together, and then she got up.
“Take care of yourself,” I said.
“I will,” she said. She leaned over, she softly touched my neck, and she kissed me on the forehead. I had sensed her walk away as her fragrance briefly remained behind. I watched the The Moon’s front doors open, and then it closed. Kate had moved over nearby me, she wiped the bar top off with a wet towel. She patted me on the hand.
“You’ll be fine,” Kate said. “That the former…”
“Yes,” I said. “How’d you know?”
Kate kindly grinned. She had opened her arms apart and she gripped the bar.
“It’s my job,” Kate said. She looked up above me. “I’m a professional bartender, hun.”
“I hope I didn’t insult you?” I said.
“Oh, no,” Kate said. She waved over at me. “Bartenders learn to observe people, some people just stay happy, some are angry because they want to be ugly, I guess.”
“Drunks?” I said.
“Oh, yes,” Kate said. “We have to really pay attention to them, we’re liable it they leave and go hurt someone.”
“I guess The Moon,” I said. “Helps keep me sane.”
“Ah,” Kate said. She waved at me. “Some people give up, but most are just not wanting to be alone, you know.”
“And me?” I said. “Be honest.”
Kate reached forward to softly touch my hand, again.
“Ah,” Kate said. She whispered. “And the heartbroken, another Guinness?”
“Yes, please,” I said.