Greener Than Envy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A lonely night at the bar is made interesting by an unlikely encounter.

Submitted: July 14, 2011

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Submitted: July 14, 2011

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I was sitting at an empty bar in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Idaho.  Over the last two and a half hours, I had taken three shots of whiskey and used five beers as the chasers.  I was fucked.  But with nobody there, the feeling that the entire bar was to myself was too satisfying to ignore.  I felt like a king.  My throne was a wooden stool.  I called to the bartender, “Hit me!”  He filled my empty shot glass with whiskey and opened a new bottle of beer for me.  I downed the shot, crossed my eyes and licked my lips, and chased it with half of the chilled beer.

My vision was starting to get blurry.  The bartender could tell that I was hammered but he was a good man.  He didn’t know me, but he could sense the despair in me.  And sometimes despair can only be drowned out with alcohol.  Even if only silenced for a night.  I sat there for quite some time.  Sitting in a stupor, my eyes uninterestedly staring at the baseball game on the TV.The jukebox was playing Bob Dylan.

I heard the front door open.  Someone had decided to come and step foot in my kingdom.  For a moment, I panicked.  But I was able to reassure myself that it was okay.  They would see my yellow hat and know that this was my bar.  Maybe they would see I was the only one there and they would just leave.  Nobody could muscle me out of my place.  I turned around in my seat to look at the intruder.  It was a young woman.

She had a hooded jacket that was soaked from the rain outside.  It hadn’t been raining when I first came in.  Maybe she had only come here to take shelter.  Maybe she wasn’t interested in sitting at the bar, in ordering a drink.  I watched her as she removed her hood.  A beautiful head of brown hair fell and splashed on her narrow shoulders.  She caught me looking at her.

Shit, I thought to myself.  She never broke eye contact with me.  She had bright green eyes.  All of the seats at the bar were open and she had decided to take the one right next to me. Couldn’t she see that I was busy feeling bad for myself?  I was in no mood for conversation.

“Want to buy me a drink?”

“No,” I said.

“Why not?”

“This is my bar.  And I only buy drinks for myself.  There are plenty of other seats.  Move.”

“I like this seat.”

She was stubborn.  I liked stubborn. 

“What’s your name?”

“Adam.”

“I’m Leah.”

I had known a Leah once.  She went to high school with me.  She was a bitch.  I had been turned down by her for my junior prom.  I didn’t like Leahs.

“So will you buy me a drink?”

“Jesus Christ, woman.  What do you want?”

“Cranberry vodka.”

“Fine.  You heard her,” I said to the bartender.  He gave me a look and poured the drink.  I don’t think he liked how I was talking to this terribly gorgeous woman.  But he was old.  Girls were different now.  She probably wasn’t even twenty-one. 

“Are you from here?”

“I’m just passing through.”  She sure did ask a lot of questions.  I don’t know how many questions I could take.  Questions always led to more questions and I hated to answer questions. 

“Where are you headed?  I’m just passing through too.  Where are you staying?”

I didn’t answer.  These questions were getting too damn personal.  Couldn’t she see that I wasn’t interested in chatting with her?  I thought about getting up and moving but I figured that it might cause more drama than I cared to deal with.  Girls as young as her take everything personally.  She looked at me for a minute.  Finally she decided to answer her own questions as though I had responded and inquired in turn.

“I’m going to Seattle.  My friend Jessica is asleep in our hotel.  It’s just down the road.  Do you have a place to stay?”

I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice.  She wanted me to come back with her.  I needed another drink.

“Barkeep, another whiskey.”

“And a beer?” he asked.  I chugged the rest of mine and then nodded.  “Bottoms up,” I said as I shot back the whiskey.  The shots were starting to upset my stomach.  Maybe I should just stick to beer now.  I sipped the beer and felt even sicker.  Maybe I should just stick to water now.  No.  What was I thinking?  Fuck that.

“You seem really drunk!  Maybe you should slow down.”

“You seem nosy!  Maybe you should mind your own goddamn business!”

The bartender had enough.  “Now you show some respect mister.  I know you’re drunk, but if I hear you talk to the lady like that again, I will knock your teeth out.”

I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but I still had money, and I still wasn’t as drunk as I wanted to be.  There were no other bars in this area.  So I just nodded and put on a look of remorse.  He stood there looking at me for a second, waiting for me to say something more.  Finally, he realized I had been shut up and headed over to the cash register to count the money.  It was almost three and the bar was about to close.  I needed more drink.

“I think you’re really cute.”

“I don’t like girls like you,” I groaned.

“Girls like me?”

“Yeah.  You heard me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Buy me a drink now and I’ll tell you.”  She stared at me for a moment.  I couldn’t tell if she was intrigued or disgusted.  I was too drunk.  That whiskey was getting to me, and she was very pretty.  I had decided to milk her for as many drinks as she would buy.  She could not have been twenty-one.  The bartender hadn’t carded her.  She had beautiful brown hair and eyebrows.  Her eyes were greener than envy.  And even though she was wearing a jacket to protect her from the cold rain, she had a black skirt on.  It was hiked up higher than it needed to be.  She looked like a schoolgirl with her dark blue argyle socks.  Fuck.  What was she doing, dressed like that.

“Excuse me, can you get this gentleman a cranberry vodka?”

“No!  Fuck that.  I’m no pussy.  I’ll take a whiskey.  On the rocks this time.”

The bartender looked at Leah.  She nodded and he grabbed a glass, filled it with ice and then poured in the whiskey.  The whiskey was playing with my mood.  I felt a sudden wave of depression.  The alcohol wanted me to start opening up.

“My girlfriend caught me cheating.  She’s six months pregnant.”  She jerked her head and looked at me.  She hadn’t been expecting me to say anything.  She didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry.  I’m fucking drunk.  I don’t even want to talk about it.”

“Well, obviously you do.  You just told me what was wrong and I didn’t even ask.”  She had a point.

“Well, now I don’t want to.”

“Okay.  Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?”  She was looking at me with those big, watery, green eyes.  She wanted me.  And I was starting to want her.  I had come to the bar to get away from people.  I didn’t like her.  I wasn’t necessarily attracted to her.  I was just desperate to forget my situation.

“I don’t have anywhere to sleep.”  The bartender looked at me again.  How could I go from telling this broad off to obviously hinting at a sleep over?  He didn’t understand what it meant to be lonely.  Fuck him.  She was clearly excited and I was increasingly drunk.

“Let’s go.”  I had taken one sip of my new glass.  Her cranberry vodka was finished.  She was tipsy.  She was a lightweight with small breasts and a thick ass.  Her features convinced me I was making the right decision.  She grabbed my hand and led me out of the bar.  We made our way down the street towards her hotel room.  She was talking about something but I wasn’t listening.  I was planning my escape for the morning.  I wanted to fuck her now, but I didn’t want to have to talk when we woke up when I was sober and hungover.  I didn’t want to talk to her at all.  She didn’t care about my problems and I didn’t want to tell her.

I could see her green eyes looking at me from my peripherals.  I was staring at the ground trying to act like I was deep in thought about whatever she was saying.  Apparently, she could tell that my mind was somewhere else.

“Adam?  Are you listening?”

I looked up at her and shook my head.  I half expected her to slap me across the face but instead her green eyes turned sad.  She pitied me.  She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek and I felt a little better.  We had stopped walking and were in front of a fence.  Behind the fence was a factory or something.  There was no noise this late at night.  The last thing I remember was putting my arm around her waist and pulling her in for a drunk, sloppy kiss.


© Copyright 2020 Harvey Highwater. All rights reserved.

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