She’s sitting there at the corner of the bar counter, legs crossed against each other on one of the high stools. Her head is tilted black, her short black hair shimmering in the dimly lit room with her head tilted back as she is watching something on the screen. It’s an antelope, a gracious one, with long legs and a shiny golden brown coat grazing on one of the many African savannas. What’s on the screen, not her, though her legs are gracious.
The screen takes you out of the busy streets below and the non description chatter of tired men calling it a night. Hotel bars tend to be empty, a lot. Especially city hotels, they are the solace of lone business travellers. A guilty pleasure for when one wakes at 3 am on can’t seem to go back to sleep. Or for when they can’t go to sleep at all. Or just when they need a neat single scotch to burn down their dry throats before hitting the hay.
The bartender walks in my direction, white shirt unbuttoned at the collar, red half coat fully buttoned and a white clothe with two thin red stripes slung across his left shoulder. He must be right handed. He nods and pulls the clothe of his shoulder, picking up a glass and drying it all without looking away from me. It’s fluid the way he does it, like a musical, like he can do it in his sleep, like he has done this all his life. For all he cares that clothe could be his left hand. I wonder if he has given it a name, if he is the type of man so in love with his craft to name his tools. That maybe on his shoulder today is Betsy. Then there’s Carol with the green stripes who’s good with the crisp wine glasses. Maybe a Lucy, he doesn’t like her that much, she’s a bit heavy and doesn’t dry well too. Or maybe he is a man who hates what he does, only does it for the money. So everything I just saw was mechanical, a man waiting to end his day and go home. Unamended that he would have to come back again.
“What will you be having?”
“A double of that…” I say pointing at a bottle behind the man.
It’s a nice looking bottle if you ask me. Well rounded, no unnecessary curves, it’s a bottle that’s just doing its job.
“No my heart is fine thanks”
“I mean the ice sir…”
“Oh no, rocks please.”
I look at my watch, brown leather straps golden rimmed face and roman numerals. It was a gift. I don’t really love watches or jewelry for that matter, I’m more subtle, jewelry announces your presence it enters the room and shouts “look at me bastard I’m possibly rich!” I sigh, it’s ten thirty. The music has lulled into an obscure drone in the background. A few of the business men have left. I take out my phone and check the time again, it hasn’t moved. I also don’t have a message so I text her.
“Been here waiting where are you?”
Two ticks. Turns blue. No reply.
Bitch. I think I say this in my head but I say it out loud. I swirl the drink in my glass and take it down my throat. I look up the television, some cheetah is laying low in the golden brown grass eying it’s prey. I look at the bartender he is busy pouring a drink. I turn and look at the lady, she’s still there her eyes now lazy. She’s bored. Maybe by life. A be she’s been stood up. I raise my glass to her and nod. She doesn’t acknowledge she just picks up her clutch throws the remainder of her drink to the back of her throat, pushes the chair backwards and starts walking towards the door. At least that’s what I think until she pulls up a chair next to me. She smells sweet and drunk.
“On the rocks huh?” She says pointing at my glass.
I look at it, then at her, then nod.
“Like your relationship?” She adds with a chuckle.
I smile and summon Mr Bartender. He glides across the counter and throws the towel across his shoulder clasping his hands in front of him. I point at my drink.
“Another one of these my good man. And whatever the lady will have.”
“Sally, my name is Sally.” She says.
“Sally.” I say. Like I am confirming her name. She smiles.
“Charles” I add.
I look at my phone again; no text. I slide it back into my pockets.
“Bitch?” She asks
This one I like. Intuitive. Very rare nowadays with all these instagram filters and hashtags.
“You heard that huh?”
“I’m sure they heard it on Pluto.”
We laugh. She’s funny or maybe it’s her drinks. She’s having cosmos, in glasses with stems as long as her legs. She catches me staring at them but only smiles and traces a finger along her thighs playfully.
“Well I hope she heard it too…” I say voice trailing off
She lifts up her drink and toasts “here’s to miss bitch.” Glasses clink. We laugh. We drink.
It’s now one am. The television is off, the lights have been dimmed and Mr Bartender is looking lonely. He can’t leave while we’re still here.
“Maybe it’s time we went?” I ask
“Mines or yours?”
“I’ll go to mine you’ll go to yours”
“You’re no fun.” She playfully teases.
“I’m the most boring person you’ve met. Why do you think they na, ed me Charles? The Prince? Hell no. More like Darwin and we know how history is.”
She laughs. I laugh. We get up to leave.
At the parking she hands me her card.
“Call, text; I won’t be a bitch.”
I smile. She smiles. Phone buzzes.
Bitch: Hey, fell asleep, sorry 😦