Monday, April 27, 2009

The Streak - 26

"Sean, glass of water please," said Kyle.

"Make it two, Sean," said Evan.

"You guys all right?"

"We're good, Sean. Thank you. We're very good," said Kyle.

"You motherfuckers rolling tonight or what?"

"That's correct, Sean. You're very observant. You're really a very good bartender. A good bartender needs to be observant. Watch for the little things. The periphery. Isn't that right, Evan? We don't appreciate a good bartender the way we should. In this society. We don't give Sean enough credit half the time."

"You don't have to blow me," said Sean.

"It's time to give the devil credit when it's due. Am I right, Ev?"

Evan was drying his tears on a cocktail napkin.

"Sean's the best. Kyle, give Sean cocaine."

Kyle made a weird, pained face. "Not... yet... Evan..." he whispered through clenched teeth. Sean scrutinized them with a smile.

Evan stared dumbly back at Kyle. "Whaddaya mean?"

Kyle pointed at an imaginary watch beneath his cuff. "The... time... is... not... now!"

"For Jesus's sake."

Kyle nodded vigorously.

"And don't whisper like that. You're making my trip bad."

Kyle put his arms up and turned his head.

"How many minutes?" asked Evan.

Kyle checked the time on his iPhone. "Hmmm. Twenty-three, maybe. Thirteen?"

"Fuck it, I don't want to know. It's not good to know."

"You're right," said Kyle, plunging the phone back in his jacket pocket. "It's not healthy to know. Let's sit here and drink water."

"It's like knowing when you're gonna die."

"No one wants to know. No one oughtta know."

"It's on a goddamned need-to-know basis and no one needs to know."

They sat in silence for a while, sagely sipping water as Sean beheld them smilingly, leaning on the bar with his bar towel in his hand. He then began to wipe the counter idly, whistling "Whiskey in the Jar."

"You whistle well," said Kyle.

"You're a good whistler," chimed Evan.

The phone went off.

"It's time!" declared Kyle.

"It is now. The fucking time is now," said Evan, clapping once.

Kyle handed Sean the bullet. Sean snorted copiously from it and passed it back. Kyle and Evan took their turns. Evan swiveled on his stool to offer some to Bill but the old man had disappeared without a word or sound, spirited back into his shadow world.

"Thanks guys."

"You're the best bartender in the world," said Kyle.

Sean did a brief, ludicrous hat-doffing pantomime consisting of twirling his hand in a descending spiral from head to chest.

"Let's go," Evan told Kyle.

They settled up, tipping Sean extravagantly, and said their goodbyes. When Kyle and Evan stepped outside they were suddenly surrounded by an insistent, rattling roar.

"What the fuck is that?" cried Evan in alarm.

Kyle pointed up. "Helicopter."

They gravitated downtown on Lex, waving to the street for a cab.



Illustration by Louise Asherson

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