Sunday, March 23, 2014

     It was 8:37 and still she 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. Make-up never met 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 to Kenneth. "Whattaya need there, Kenny boy? Nutha fountain?"
     "No, I do not need a 'nutha fountain'." Kenneth used 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 like a snake. 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 that so?" 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. 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 neatly trimmed of all importance and letters omitted for the sake of brevity. He re-read her last text that said she'd meet him at the bar.

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