It was 8:37 and she still hadn't shown. Kenneth sighed, looked up from his phone and watched as the bartender made her usual swipes across the bar with a damp terrycloth towel. It was knotted up into a ball and looked stupid in her hand as she slid it back and forth in figure eight motions, cleaning nothing. Her half-ass attempt at cleaning infuriated him as he took another drink and continued watching. She appeared disinterested in life. The clothes she wore were trademarks of hard times and her hair was tied back in a simple ponytail as to avoid any effort at making herself look pretty. Forty years of alcohol had not been kind to her face and her attitude towards customers was irreverent at best. Basically, this bitch was one bad moment away from losing her proverbial shit.
"I can't take it anymore. You're killing me here, Janice."
Janice set her balled up rag aside and walked over. "Whattaya need there, Kenny boy? Nutha fountain?"
"No, I do not need a 'nutha fountain'." Kenneth said using a girl's voice as he pronounced 'nutha fountain' mockingly. This was exclusively a Janice phrase and it too infuriated him. For as long as he'd been coming here she had always referred to the pouring of beer as pouring a fountain. "What I need is for you to use that rag as a normal person would. Can you do that, Janice? Can you not knot the rag up when you clean? I mean, is it even possible?"
Janice glanced over at the rag. It was still balled up tight. She looked back at Kenneth.
"You think you got it all figured out, donchya. You're one of those smarty fart wise asses who think they're better than everyone else. Ain't ya?" Janice walked back over and picked up the rag and slowly unraveled it. "Well lemme tell you sumthin, Kenny boy. I got your number, mother fucker. Yeh, that's right. Every night you sit there in that bar seat drinking alone, and every night I watch you pretend to text people on your expensive little smart phone there, hoping to avoid anyone noticing just how alone you are. And tonight you got stood up again. That's the third time in two weeks. You think I'm too stupid to notice things? Well you're wrong, asshole. And I can clean this goddamn elbow rest however I want. You hear me?"
She walked down to the far end of the bar and started cleaning again. Kenneth watched as she swiped back and forth lazily, this time with the rag spread out flat like a normal person would. He turned and stared at his beer. He looked down at his phone and pressed the home button... zero new text messages. He opened his message history and scrolled through the texts that Rachel had sent him. He read them all, it didn't take long. She spoke in abbreviated thoughts and kept her intentions hidden well. Their correspondence played out like a bingo hall romance. Each message was neatly trimmed of any importance and all nonessential letters were omitted for sake of brevity. He re-read her last text that said she'd meet him at the bar at 7. She added a sideways smiley face and the words ‘can’t wait’ with an exclamation point.
Frustrated, he exited their message archive and opened his dating app. After logging in he navigated to her profile and looked at her collection of pictures again. She was gorgeous. Her complexion and make-up was perfect in every pic, as was the long black hair that hung straight down around her face, the ends of which just brushed the top of her ample breasts. In one pic she even bent forward and pursed her red lips which opened up her cleavage for all the online dating world to see. Kenneth sat staring at the digital picture for some time. He focused on the curvature of her tits and how her skin rounded backwards into her blouse, gently disappearing into darkness. He reached down and adjusted his pants to make room for his growing erection. He imagined himself on top of her naked body, lost in a moment of misfired passion and pent up sexual energy. His lips formed a little O as he pretended to suck on her nipple. His excitement grew.
“Hey lover boy, how bout a nutha fountain?” Janice asked abruptly, appearing before him unexpectedly.
Startled, Kenneth looked up. Janice stood over him with the cleaning rag draped over her arm, popping her gum, her eyes fixed on the glowing screen of his cell phone. Embarrassed, Kenneth hit the power button and the screen went dark. He looked back up at her.
“Janice, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, dawlin’. Ask away.” She set her rag down and leaned onto the bar as though legitimately interested in what he was about to say. Her low cut shirt relaxed and opened up, exposing perky breasts held tight by a turquoise colored bra. Leaning on crossed-over elbows, Janice chewed her gum unromantically and stared at Kenneth while waiting for him to speak. Her make-up appeared to have been applied in an extreme hurry and with complete disregard to beautification. Her eyeliner was thick and her mascara chunky which gave the impression of a woman trying to paint over two eyes that held dark secrets for too long. The color of her lipstick didn’t match the thick layer of blush on her cheeks.
Kenneth took all this in and then spoke.
“Janice, do you ever get… lonely? I mean, not here at work because obviously you’re never really alone here, but you know… out there?” He tilted his head and nodded towards the exit.
Janice stopped chewing her gum and smiled.
“You realize that’s the first serious question you ever asked me before? You been coming here for what, a year now? And through all that time all you ever do is sit there in that stool pining over girls who never show up. And giving me shit about it too, I might add. Every time you get stood up you take it out on me, you realize that? Listen, lover boy, real magic ain’t found in them fake bitches inside that silly phone,” Janice said while pointing. “Those types of girls drive up in their perfect little cars with Dutch Princess stickers in the windows, take one look at this place, and leave. Most of ‘em don’t even sit in the parking lot long enough to turn off the ignition. Those girls can’t even afford the monthly payments on the cars they choose that make them feel better about themselves; cars that they wear like expensive shoes. And here you sit in this beat-up bar, night after night, dressed to impress, waiting for something magical to happen.”
She stood up and removed the empty pint glass from the soggy coaster.
“Can I pour you a nutha fountain?” she asked again, this time in a loud crow.
Kenneth nodded and watched her retrieve a new glass from a plastic drying rack. She turned to the pour station and pulled on the tap. Looking over her shoulder she continued, “Listen, Kenny, there’s a reason you choose this place and not the next bar up the street. Only you can know that reason. Just look around, what do you see?” She turned back just in time to finish the pour. As the foamy head crept up she leaned in and blew it off until everything settled, then turned and placed the beer in front of him.
“There ya go, lover boy, a fresh fountain for your worries. That one’s on me,” she said and walked over to a new patron who just sat down.
Kenneth grabbed his beer and repositioned himself on the bar stool so he could people watch while he drank. Scotter the Otter was standing at the juke box navigating the touch screen menu, his pool cue held tightly in his left hand. His skin tight clothing and greasy slick-backed hair were the reason behind his nickname, but he liked to think it was the way he deftly ran a pool table. The ability to fluidly sneak balls around the others and sink them into pockets with ease was his claim to fame and there wasn’t a single person in the place that could out shoot him. Most of the time he’d just practice running tables all by himself since nobody liked losing to him, but every once in awhile an outsider would venture in and Scotter the Otter was quick to offer up a game.
Danielle always sat next to the pool table where Scotter the Otter was playing. She liked watching him bend over to take his shots; his buttocks stretched his tight fitting pants in a seeming effort to escape them. She was always joined by one or two regulars of the opposite sex; she never sat alone. She enjoyed the company of men, maybe a little too much, and unbeknown to her her nickname was “Well, Fuck” because she was as big as a whale and really liked to fuck. Tonight she sat at her table entertaining three possible suitors, one of which was her ex. He was either too stupid or too drunk to comprehend the current situation, or the fact that she had made quite a scene just the other night when she dumped his ass in front of everyone for not being able to ‘get it up’. And in the blink of an eye his nickname had switched from Half Bow to Half Mast, just like that.
Kenneth chuckled as he replayed the break-up scene in his memory and continued to look around. Most of the regulars were already here tonight as well as many outsiders who were lured in by the Live Music banner on display out front. The place was filling up fast. Every time the door opened he would quickly look to see if it was Rachel showing up late, and every time it wasn’t, his disappointment grew a little more. He checked his phone again… zero messages. He looked at the time… 9:07. He was now officially stood up. Again.
Feelings of dejection started to overcome him as two girls suddenly appeared from nowhere and squeezed their way next to him, pushing for a spot at the bar so they could order some drinks. Kenneth immediately picked up his phone and pretended to be texting someone. The girls were already a bit buzzed from where ever they just came from and giggled together playfully while holding onto one another’s arms. One of the girls bumped into Kenneth and apologized to which he replied “no problem” without even looking up. Janice walked over and took their drink order.
“Whatta ya having, ladies?”
“Two Bud Lites and two lemon drops, please.” The girls replied in unison.
“Two fountains and two sucker punches, coming right up.” Janice spurted back.
Janice reached across the bar and pressed the off button on the phone in Kenneth’s hand. He looked up angrily. “The magic ain’t in there, lover boy, so stop pretending it is,” she said and walked away. When she got to the pouring station she looked back over her shoulder, nodded towards the two girls standing next to him and shot him a ‘what are ya waiting for’ look. Kenneth shook his head stubbornly and Janice sneered. Upon her return she set all the drinks down and tallied the amount.
“That’ll be sixteen bucks there, Double Mint Twins.” Looking at Kenneth, Janice continued, “Say, do either of you girls happen to drive a brand new Nissan Pathfinder with terrific rims and a pink Dutch Princess sticker in the window?”
“I drive a new Monterro Sport with a pink sticker!” the girl closest to Kenneth excitedly replied.
Janice smiled. “Say, have you met my friend Kenny? He just bought you this round.”
Kenneth shot her an extremely disapproving look but quickly concealed it as the two girls turned toward him. In pure drunken showmanship, they both fondled Kenneth on his arm and shoulder, thanking him protrusively while slightly slurring their gratitude. They were young and pretty and their purses glimmered from all the sequins. Their make-up and hair was perfect and the clothes they wore matched that of Kenneth’s. The three of them were definitely dressed to impress.
“That was really nice of you!”
“Yeah that was, thank you! This place is sort of ghetto. You come here often?”
“Do you know what type of music will be playing?”
“Hip-hop I hope. Oh god, look at what she’s wearing…”
“Oh, that’s just nasty.”
“Gawd, that girl is busted.”
“So is the bartender. Look at her skirt… it doesn’t even match her top. And her stockings have runs in them!”
“Do you come here often?”
“There isn’t a single guy in here worth fucking.”
The two girls went on and on complaining about this and that, judging everyone and laughing at their underprivileged, bar-going counterparts. Kenneth simply sat there listening, observing, saying nothing. His eyes moved down their bodies as he checked out their exquisite legs exposed by short skirts that fit tightly, showing off the curves of their asses. He wondered if they even bothered wearing panties. He chuckled as he compared them to Well, Fuck and considered how these two girls were basically cut from the same mold, only theirs was five sizes smaller. Their tight-fitting v-neck tops revealed the young breasts beneath, enticing stares from every corner of the bar as they constantly giggled and touched each other teasingly. They enjoyed being the center of everyone’s attention. Kenneth felt angered as he watched them down the drinks which he got tricked into paying for. As hot as these girls were, he had no interest. After awhile, they too lost interest and left the bar without so much as a goodbye. Kenneth turned back around in his bar stool and faced his beer.
“So, lover boy, did ya score a few numbers?” Janice asked as she lifted his beer and swiped with her balled up cleaning rag.
Kenneth stared at the knotted rag in her hand. “Goddammit, Janice, you and that stupid fucking rag!” was all he could say. She stared back at him.
“I take that as a no?” Listen, it’s not my fault they weren’t your type. Hell, they looked your type.”
Kenneth shot her another look of disapproval. Janice yelled at the other bartender that she was taking a smoke break and turned back to Kenneth.
“Meet me around back behind the smoking area. Use that door over there,” she said pointing and disappeared through the swinging kitchen door.
Out back, Janice stood leaning against a stack of boxes smoking a cigarette. Off to the side a door opened and Kenneth’s head appeared. He looked around, saw Janice, and slowly made his way over next to her. She had her free arm tucked under her smoking arm and a jacket draped over her bare shoulders. She looked like an over-aged hot mess of a woman, but Kenneth didn’t seem to care. She motioned for him to sit on the stack of pallets next to her, which he did. She moved directly in front of him so that they were eye to eye. Still smoking, she reached forward with her free hand, unzipped his pants and pulled out his dick. She played with it in her hand for a minute, rolling it around and squeezing it until it became hard, then she leaned forward and began sucking. She held her lit cigarette off to the side while she worked it, taking an occasional break from Kenneth’s cock to take a drag, then going right back to business. Smoke billowed out from Kenneth’s crotch as Janice continued sucking and exhaling to completion. After he climaxed, she stood, turned, and spit. Kenneth remained seated, immobilized and panting heavily while she finished the remaining drag of her cigarette. Having finally regained his composure, Kenneth zipped up.
“My face is numb,” he said rubbing his cheeks.
“Good,” replied Janice as she snuffed out the butt on the pallet he was sitting on. She turned to go back inside and as she reached the corner she stopped and looked back over her shoulder and said, “A sixteen dollar blow-job from a 47 year old alcoholic bartender on her smoke break… now that’s magical, lover boy. Come back inside; I’ll pour ya a nutha fountain.”