A Night Out

“He looks like he’s been crying,” he heard her say with concern.

“He’s always crying” the manager responded dismissively to the young woman. She had asked what was wrong with the man who had just walked in. One that everyone knew and yet no one really talked to. This man could hear the exchange but did his best not to react to it.

“Oh…” She cast a glance towards him as he sat at the far end of the bar.

The man was a regular customer and he sat and ordered a cheap beer, listening to the bartenders complain about the lack of tip they’d get from him to each other when they thought he couldn’t hear. He could always hear, far too well for his liking. He stared into his cup knowing he would tip as much as he could afford and it would be at least twenty percent, but he knew he could only have one or two drinks before his money ran out.

Time passed as the man nursed his beer, taking the scene of the Friday night bar crowd. Familiar faces filed in, a few people waved, less actually said hi, but no one sat next to him.

His beer lay empty and one of the bartenders picked up the glass and impatiently asked “Another?” Waving the glass in his face. The dismissive tone and posture implicating that he was beneath notice, and was being done a favor.

“Sure,” he mumbled, “And my check”

“What?” The barkeep yelled at him despite the fact it had not gotten loud enough yet to have to raise your voice.

Everyone was staring at him, the man calmly and loudly said “Yes, and my check.”

Rolling his eyes the bartender walked off, the man could hear him saying, “I told you he wouldn’t have more than two fucken beers.” To the other worker.

After a long wait, a beer was placed before him. There was almost a full inch of head on top. “That’ll be seven twenty-five.”

The man took out a ten and said, “Keep the change.”

“Yeah, whatever,” was the response as the bartender snatched it up and walked away.

The man quietly took his beer and walked out onto the front patio. Sitting in the near-dusk chill of early autumn. He tried to not think of why he bothered to come here. He knew if he did not come out occasionally, he would never get out.

His thoughts were drifting as he watched the veil of night slowly descend. He heard the door to the patio open and suddenly heard, “Hey Steve.” The young woman from earlier stood in the doorway. “Want some company?”

He smiled, “Sure, Clara.” He watched as she came and sat down next to him holding a bowl.

“Would you like a bite? It’s French Vanilla ice cream.” She had taken a spoonful and was presenting it to him.

“That’s my favorite flavor,” he said. He went to take the spoon but she pushed it towards his mouth. Taken aback a bit he took the bite offered.  Awkwardly saying “Thank you,” with his mouth full.

She smiled and went to take a bite herself, “This is my favorite flavor too.”

They sat in the still night, as the sounds of the band warming up started to waft through the walls and glass. As she looked at him, he could not help but admire her eyes. They were the perfect shifting hazel, a bit more green and then a bit more blue with each passing moment.

He knew she was too young for him and he had seen her wild spirit on display in the past. He was a very boring man, one who had never had any passions. He knew he would not be enough for her, but was glad to have any company.

She offered him another bite, which he accepted saying, “Thank you, that’s enough though you know people will probably “talk” about this.

He watched a sadness enter her eyes, and she looked down at the bowl in her hands. He assumed she knew he was right. Then she looked up and asked, “Are you all right Steve? What’s going on with you lately?”

It was his turn to look downwards now. He stared at his hands for a few moments. Finally, he took a deep breath looked up, and started to speak, “Honestly no, I’m not…”

Just then the patio door slammed open and one of the servers came out. “What are you two talking about…?” Walking over they continued “Eh, it’s just Steve can’t be anything important.” Lighting a cigarette, they sat down and started to talk to Clara. “How was your day, Clara?”

Steve rose to leave, leaving his half-finished beer behind “Yeah, it’s only Steve,” he muttered quietly as he walked away. He looked back once and could see Clara looking at him. He knew it wasn’t her fault. That the server was “saving her” from him.

As he walked to his car the tears came once again. He drove home feeling unaccepted but knowing that at least one person had tried. When he walked into his single apartment. He went straight to bed, hoping that he could escape the nightmare of his life and into dream. He tossed and turned for hours but finally, as the sand filled his eyes, his last waking thoughts were of the kindness in her eyes as she asked him if he was ok.


3 thoughts on “A Night Out

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