By: Stephanie Jerzy
Song: How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?
Album: The Hits/The B-Sides
(Nighthawks, Edward Hopper, 1942. Picture taken from http://mydailyartdisplay.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/nighthawks-by-edward-hopper/)
Things were quieting down for Tom. The lone man behind the bar at the local watering hole, he was methodically polishing glassware upon tidying up from the evening’s activities. With dish rag in hand, he peered up from the pint glass in his hand to look at the wall clock behind him – 1:53 a.m.
A young couple, each looking intoxicated with lust at the other, settled their tab and slowly staggered out the door. Tom watched them hand in hand as they disappeared around the corner into the calm city night. He turned his attention back to the bar, where one lonely patron held a seat at the far end of the counter. He had quietly occupied his stool for most of the evening’s shift, Tom recalled to himself, head down and energy focused on swirling the bourbon in his rocks glass.
“I thought we had that,” the man said, not bothering to glance up from his glass.
“Beg your pardon?” Tom replied.
“What that couple had. The familiarity. The comfort. The desire to be in one another’s arms. I thought we had that.”
Tom didn’t know how to respond. “Have I just made the leap from bartender to therapist?” he thought.
“What we had was good,” the man continued, “I just can’t seem to figure out why she won’t call. What could I have done to make her want to leave?”
Still unsure how to respond to this somber man, Tom said the first thing that came to mind.
“I’m sure there will be someone else.”
The man finally looked up from his bourbon, puzzled and saddened by Tom’s remark. “There is no one else. She was my everything.” And, after a brief moment, he went back to staring at his drink.
Tom felt embarrassed, tongue-tied even, and, shakily, went back to polishing glassware.
“You’re probably anxious to close shop. I should head out,” the man said as he sighed and shuffled on the bar stool to reach his wallet.
More silence. Tom looked back up at the clock – 2:01. It had been a lackluster evening and Tom certainly was anxious to head home and fall asleep next to his wife.
But peering back at the man at the bar – looking hopeless and deflated – pained Tom. He hoped to never experience that pang of heartbreak and defeat himself.
Tom set his rag and glass on the counter and walked to the end of the bar where he grabbed himself a bar stool. He hoisted it behind the bar, opposite his lone patron. When he finally sat, he had just enough leg room to squeeze in before brushing up against the bottles in his well station. “Tell me more about her.”
The stranger, comforted by Tom’s remark, smiled, settled back into his stool and resumed swirling the bourbon in his glass.
Stephanie likes to think she wears many hats, but until recently had not considered writing fiction to be among them. She is a Journalism major, Public Relations Manager and social media maven. Additionally, Stephanie is a beer and spirits enthusiast, sports addict, aspiring yogi, foodie and proud alumna of the University of Arizona (Bear Down!).