By Vaishali Kataria
The rain of Brooklyn’s July served less to its intention of retreating to a dull pour. The wet curb of Mickey’s Great Bar was now a host to the flapping of closing umbrellas and overcoats. This fine night was no different to Mark as he sheepishly wiped the bar with a cloth which was never in its brief history of existence, ever clean.
“An old fashioned please.” A low voice which could almost pass for a whisper spoke into a plethora of unheard voices across the bar.
Mark looked at the frame of a girl slouched over the other end.
“Sorry, didn’t hear ya there. What can I getcha ?”
“Oh.. ” She looked away from her phone and up at Mark “I said an old fashioned please.”
“An old fashioned eh… Comin right up.” Mark replied pretending to know what the drink was. His tenth day at another bar and he was already going to screw up yet another order.
“Where do they even come up with the names for these things, Bloody Mary, Sex on the Beach, Blue lagoon … what other color could a lagoon have any way.” Thoughts raced in his mind as he looked at the girl once again. The blue streaks covering her hair wasn’t something he’d encountered before. And she did looked like a piece that belonged in another puzzle, he thought handing a couple of beers to the other regulars of the Great Bar. Finding a brief moment of solitude between the two of them he mustered some courage.
“Hey, can I be honest with you ?” Mark leaned forward.
“Excuse me ?” The girl looked puzzled.
“I’m kinda new to the profession and I don’t know how to make an Ol’fashioned. How ’bout I serve you something else ? First round’s on me and ya don’t complain to the Ol’Boss… whatya say ? ”
The look would later change to a smirk as she’d reply.
“I have been offered a drink differently before. This is a first. What do you have ? ”
“Umm… you can try the home brew, some scotch or Bourbon .”
“No wine ?”
“I sneaked in for a taste… It’s terrible. Unless you like ulcers.”
“Beer is fine.”
“Beer, now we’re talking. I got you” Mark pulled up a bottle and placed it on the bar.
“My name’s Mark. And I’ll be serving you today unfortunately.”
“Cindy, no problem.”
“So, hot date Cindy ?”
“Kinda, How’d you know ?”
“Well, you’re looking at your phone more than I look at the score on a matchday and as much as I like the woodwork on the door I reckon it’s not why you keep looking at it. Hence … ”
Cindy smiled half heartedly as if holding back on something. She’d take another sip of the beer and the topic of discussion would change, the world would be back on its roller coaster and this brief moment of introspection would pass… or so she thought.
“So he’s running late or did the bastard stood you up ?” Mark enquired.
Cindy sat there silent as people approached the bar and Mark poured them their drinks. He’d look at her and the mystery of this puzzle piece would boggle his mind. People were simple he’d thought, they ask something of you and you either provide or let em move on. However this was … different.
“Is everything okay ? ” Mark anticipated a reply.
Cindy looked up and took another sip of the beer.
“Well if you ask me, any guy who’d ask a girl out to this place isn’t that big of a catch. Hell, they hired me for cryin out loud.”
“We weren’t supposed to meet here.” Cindy broke the silence. “I’ll have another, Thanks.” She pointed at the empty bottle.
“What’s the holdup then ?” Mark pushed another bottle across the bar.
Cindy looked at Mark and smirked again as if surprised to see intrigue in a person for the first time without having to do anything to deserve such a thing in the first place. But it wasn’t the only strange thing happening that day.
“He’s sitting across the street in that restaurant waiting for me I guess. He asked me out yesterday and I agreed. God !! Stupid. ” Cindy realized that the last part was meant to be silent.
“You don’t like the guy or what ? ” Mark replied looking out the semi painted window.
“It’s not like that. I’ve done this before and it always ends up ugly in the end. I don’t want to relive everything bad about it if it happens.” Cindy’s answer sounded thought out.
“So you’re hiding here waiting for him to leave … or are you planning on going there and telling him how screwed up this whole thing sounds right?”
Cindy’s look was one of disbelief as Mark’s words had an air of judgment in them. She got up determined to take her business elsewhere and without a word turned around to the door.
” Do you see the people lining up for the same restaurant ?” He asked her.
Expecting an apology somewhere in the sentences that were to follow she faced him again keeping her hands at the bar.
” I think I do.”
“Well that restaurant, Macey’s by the way, is said to have the best risotto in town and all those people have heard the same story.”
“What’s your point? ” Cindy grew impatient.
“Because that line is huge, and all the people who find that hassle bad, end up here having the cheap beer and fried shrimp… meet our audience. That place is the reason this place exists. ” He gestured across the seats of the Mickey’s Great Bar.
“It’s no surprise you’ve come here and are afraid of taking the chance to go for it.” Mark continued.
“And how’s this one different than anything else ? ” Cindy’s question now intended for Mark wasn’t just for him but lingering doubt in her mind.
“It’s been like fifteen minutes already and he’s still sitting there, not to mention, have you seen the line there ?” Mark smiled.
Her choices before her, she took a solid minute to grasp the events that would ensue. Knowing what she had to do Cindy walked to the entrance but stopped at the door before walking out. She looked back at him and asked.
“Is it good … the risotto I mean ?”
“Only one way to know… ”
“Thanks uh… ”
“Mark, Mark Sullivan.”
Cindy left Mickey’s Great Bar and Mark resumed onto cleaning up the shelves to the sound of familiar tunes on the speakers. His patrons awaited him.
” Hey buddy, two Old Fashioned for me and my here.” A thunderous voice demanded.
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