Every bar stool and most of the tables were already taken. As we paused inside the doorway, he touched my wrist, just slightly, as though worried the happy hour crowd might swallow me. He nodded toward the only open booth near the corner window, and I followed still feeling his fingers on my skin. Bits and pieces of tall work tales drifted from table to table competing with the fog of cigarette smoke. Weaving through the crowd, I held my breath as the work day began to fade.
The leather was tattered and the coils felt springy beneath my thighs. "Pass me your umbrella, and I'll put it on my side." Water dribbled and pooled on the wooden tabletop as I handed it across.
"So how was your trip to San Antonio?" I asked.
"My flight was delayed, but my day improved when I saw your car still in the parking lot." He smiled and cocked one eyebrow. I had a difficult time making eye contact.
"You folks want something to drink?" The waitress dropped off menus and flicked her Zippo several times before lighting the candle at center table.
"Beer?" he asked.
"Sure. Miller Lite."
"Two please. On tap." Nearby, a game of pool became lively as a group gathered and cheered.
"Do you want something to eat?"
My stomach grumbled. I skipped lunch to finish the board reports.
"No, I'm not hungry, but you go ahead." I picked at the ice around my mug and took a sip.
"Where are your kids tonight?"
"This is their dad's weekend."
"Oh." He smiled again.
30 July 2013