It was getting dark in New York City. The rain lightly banged on the roofs of the buildings, but she didn’t hear it. She was sitting in the bar, alone, drinking her margarita. Her name was Sheryl, according to her I.D. and if it was a fake I.D., then it was well-done. She was always asked for I.D. everywhere she went, because she looked too young and innocent to be over 19. (I guess it was the fact that she was slim and short that made her look so much younger). The bar was very crowded, but no one even looked in her direction. Everyone was into their own drunken conversations. Acknowledging the fact that no one was talking to her, she stared at the ceiling, as if it would give her ideas of what she would want to do. After a short discussion with the ceiling, it looked like they came to an agreement and Sheryl started flirting with the bartender.
“Say, is it hard to become a bartender?” (It was a clumsy attempt to get his attention, but it was still an attempt).
“Why? You want to be one?” the bartender replied quickly, while making a drink.
“Well, I could take it up as the second job, just for the fun of it.”
“It’s not a circus, miss,” there was a pause, because he wanted to add her name at the end, but she never introduced herself.
She didn’t say anything but she looked like a baby that didn’t get what it wanted.
“Another margarita, miss?”
“It’s Sheryl. My name is Sheryl.” She stretched her right arm forward to meet his hand in a gentle handshake, and smiled. Then she lit a cigarette, thinking if she should get drunk tonight. She had to work the next day, but she was so tempted that she couldn’t resist the drink. “Sure… Actually make it an Alabama Slammer.”
While she was drinking her Alabama Slammer, she was thinking of something clever to say, but as she was slightly drunk she couldn’t think straight. Some time passed before she spoke again, because she tried to guess what the bartender was like under the mask of successful employee without talking to him.
“How could they hire you?!” she yelled over the music.
“Excuse me? Don’t you like your drink?” the bartender freaked out.
“I do. But I didn’t mean that you are not a professional. You are just lacking human qualities.”
“And you are drunk, Sheryl.”
“So? I came here to drink; it’s not the point, anyway. The point is a bartender should be a customer’s shrink for the night.”
“No one wants to listen to your problems, lady,” The man who was sitting two chairs to the right from her was listening to their conversation from the very beginning, and as he thought it was nonsense he decided to end it. He was in his fifties, balding, fat, and had a huge plum-looking nose.
“Maybe they don’t want to, but they have to since it’s a bar. All the people come here to drink, or that is what they say, but, in fact, every person secretly wants to get trashed and let everything bugging them out, like puke. I guarantee you that every single person in this bar has some sort of a problem. They all came here to share, not to admire the super-ultra-professional cocktails.”
“So then ,why are you here?” the bartender now seemed so interested, that he even forgot to serve drinks to the others, and the girl who was working with him tonight had to do all the work herself.
“I am here, because I have a problem meeting guys. They don’t seem to be interested in me, as a lover I mean. All the people I ever liked became my good friends or disappeared from my life completely. Mostly disappeared actually. That’s my story.”
“It’s not that bad actually. It could be much worse, like losing someone dear to you. At least you can marry one of your friends if it comes to that. And, you are still very young, so maybe you just didn’t meet the ONE.”
After saying “the one” bartender just started laughing, because he realized that he sounded like a mother of a main character in a soap opera, but soon stopped seeing the girl’s face. She looked like she was going to hit him in the face with a baseball bat. She sat in silence for a few moments and once she gained control over herself, said,
“Whatever…Anyone else wanna share?”
The man with a plum nose finished his beer and said, “Alright, if it comes to this, I will. But I don’t wanna be mocked by the bartender.”
At that moment most of the people in the bar went quiet, stopping their conversations in the middle of sentences, wanting to hear every word the man has to say. People don’t get enough drama in their lives today, so whenever they have an opportunity to hear some sob-story, they are more than willing to stop whatever they are doing and waste their time listening to what never happened (and never will happen) to themselves.
“Well, - the plum nose continued, - I’m divorced now, but I used to have a beautiful wife, who was loyal and supportive. She did everything about the house – cleaning, cooking, washing – everything. But my love vanished soon.”
“But why?” cried the bartender.
“Oh, here comes the silliest part of the story. She didn’t appreciate my sexual desires. I asked her once to try something different and she just freaked out on me. Those scared eyes… she looked like I was suggesting to kill her with my own hands. I felt ashamed of my thoughts and myself. I couldn’t talk to her for a week after the incident. Then I filed for a divorce. I never re-married, because I was still ashamed of my sexual desires. I guess I still am.”
“It wasn’t your fault, man,” said some stoner kid. He seemed really into the whole scene and almost cried when the story was over. “You have to be strong, man.” words turned into sobs, so he quietly said “excuse me” and left for the washroom.
“Maybe you weren’t meant to be together in the first place. Maybe you deserved someone more passionate, more giving.” The bartender now took on the role of the priest and was eager to every word each person had to say. In fact, the whole bar now looked like a monastery without the confession booth. Everybody wanted to tell the others about their problems, but stayed respectful and didn’t yell if someone else already started their story. The stories varied from divorces to strictly work problems to fear and misery.
Everything was going smoothly until someone said, “I am the original club kid”. It was a man in his late thirties, slightly unshaved, with weird orange-ish hair. He was looking for something in his lunchbox, giving up after several seconds. Then he turned his head to the bartender, smiling and said,
“Yes, I am James St James.”
“And you have problems?” grinned the bartender, “What problems do you have, Mr. Fabulous? You were partying all the way through eighties and nineties, getting kids to do drugs, then you wrote a book about it, and Hollywood made two movies out of it. Even the drug problem is not a problem for you anymore since you are filthy rich.”
“Why are you so angry about it?” James now pulled the mask of an innocent child on himself.
“I was one of the kids. I went to several rehab programs to get my life back,” The bartender was getting red with anger.
“But it wasn’t all that bad, was it?” there was no doubt that James was enjoying this scene with his entire twisted mind.
What happened next shouldn’t ever happen in the bar. The bartender jumped to the other side of the bar-stand and was preparing to choke the poor druggie, when James bent down and slid away. Sheryl, who was sitting right besides James, found herself being chocked, so she kicked the bartender in the crouch. The bartender released her neck immediately, twitching in pain. At that time, everybody around Sheryl tried to get James, but instead kicked someone completely different. James was too prompt for the drunks and he was soon outside, gradually walking in the direction of the nearest night club. In the bar, on the other hand, chaos came to its reign. Everybody was hitting each other, women tried to make their way to the washroom, not to be hit. Men were swearing, women – crying. Then suddenly someone pulled out a gun. Women gasped, gun fired in the direction of Sheryl. The bullet seemed to escape all other hands and heads and froze right in front of Sheryl’s pale shocked face.
And then it stopped.
A guy in his twenties, with dark hair, dark eyes and absolutely white skin was sitting near the bar, drinking his margarita. It was around 3 in the morning, and the bar was closing to get some rest before another crazy night. Few people were still around, but they were finishing their drinks in a rush, not wanting to seem impolite. A couple of them were really tired, almost falling asleep, others, feeling a new adrenaline rush, were quite awake, telling jokes or laughing. The guy at the bar looked like he just woke up from a nightmare. His eyes were two dark pools full of helpless fear, and he was shaking his head violently trying to get the crazy, strange thoughts off his mind. Then he stood up, walked up to the bartender, who was counting money near the cashier on the other side of bar stand, and asked him if there was a girl named Sheryl sitting near him around two hours ago, drinking margaritas.
“No, it was just you and some old man at the bar stand tonight, - said the bartender, - we don’t get a lot of customers on Mondays and most of them sit at the tables.” “Nobody likes Mondays,” said the guy as though to himself and walked towards the door and into the empty, fresh from the rain street. He liked Mondays. It was the only day of the week he was out of his clinic.Published Link