The Bartender’s Secret

The floor tasted like the perfectly concocted mojito she had made moments before throwing it at me and punching me in the face. I landed among the bar stools and dirty napkins thinking, “That’s fair.” 

She knew I’d come, I always do. She had it waiting for me, the drink and her right hook. I can’t even be surprised. 

I had told her secret. I had betrayed her trust. As I lie under the beautifully carved mahogany bar counting the wads of chewed up gum, it occurs to me that the bartender confided in the regular, a twist of the usual roles. 

Why did she pick me to trust with this? It was a bad choice. She now knows what I knew the moment she started to speak about what happened to her. I have never been a good friend. But I’m a very good listener. It’s not always the same thing. 

I lift my hand out of the puddled, sticky liquid and push myself up. I climb onto my stool and grab a handful of cocktail napkins and wipe my hands off. My chin is aching but the drink made it slippery and her blow had slid off it with less force than intended. My face is still wet, but I leave that for now. 

Her back is turned and she if furiously drying pint glasses. Her shoulder-length red hair is quivering with rage and I can’t meet her flashing eyes in the mirror behind all the jewel colored bottles. 

She won’t look at me. 

“I think I’ll just have a beer today,” I calmly say in my practiced way as if nothing happened. Without turning or acknowledging me in anyway she spits in the glass she is drying and turns to fill it from the tap. Still not looking at me, she sets it down in front of me and turns away. 

Without hesitation I take a long drink, satisfied that a little spit is worth the story. 

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