I was sitting at a sidewalk table at a café in front of a large window, sipping my whisky and soda. I could watch the passersby on their way home. It was late and everyone had left the café except for me. A tree sat a few feet from me in a large round pot casting a shadow over the empty table sitting next to it. There was enough light to read by. I liked to sit late at night in this café and read and drink my whiskey and soda in peace. It was quiet now that all the other customers had left. There only remained two waiters, one old like me and the other young. The younger one seemed impatient to go home. Probably had a wife to go home to. That was not the case for me nor I suspect for the other waiter.
I noticed out in the street a young man and a pretty girl walking briskly by. I was entranced by the beauty of the girl and I was envious of the young man who was with her.
I signaled the waiter for another drink.
The younger waiter sauntered over.
“What will you have?”
“Another whisky and soda.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough, senor?”
I just looked at him. He went away to fetch the drink.
The two waiters were huddled together at a table near the door. They were whispering. Probably talking about me I thought. Probably want me to go. Well, I’m not ready to go.
The waiter went to the bar and poured a shot of bourbon into a tumbler of ice and spritzed it with soda water. He carried the drink outside to where I was sitting. He placed the drink in front of me and said, “Why don’t you just fuck off, old man?”
He probably thought I couldn’t hear what he was saying as I am practically deaf. But I hear well enough in a quiet environment.
The waiter went back into the café and sat down with his workmate. They began whispering again. Probably think I’m drunk and need to leave, I thought. Oh, well, I’ll stay a little longer and have one more for the road.
I like this place. It is clean, well-lighted, and quiet.
I motioned to the waiters for another drink.
“Another whiskey and soda, amigo.”
“No,” the young waiter said. “You’re done. Time to go.”
“Another!” I insisted.
“We are closing now.” He began to wipe the table clean with his towel.
I slowly stood up, looked at the bill he had unceremoniously laid on the table. I pulled some cash from my pocket and paid the bill, leaving a modest tip.
I walked down the street away from the café slowly, a bit unsteady on my feet. I could feel the eyes of the two waiters burning a hole in my back. I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I didn’t want to face my dark room and the empty bed. One more drink, I thought. There must be someplace open tonight. Only thing was, they would unlikely be as clean and well-lighted or as nice as this last one was. I didn’t want any music. No, I really wasn’t in much of a mood to listen to any music. And I didn’t really want to stand in front of a bar. What was it I wanted? Not much. Just a clean, quiet, well-lighted place.
I came to a bar that was open. It had red and white walls on the outside with an American flag hanging on one side of the entrance and a Mexican flag hanging on the other. There was music pouring out the door from a sound system hidden somewhere within the recesses of the tiny bar. Not really my kind of place, but I was thirsty, so I stumbled there inside.
There was a gentleman sitting on a barstool in the middle of the bar. A couple was sitting at a table towards the back. I went in and sat a couple of stools down from the guy at the bar.
“What would you like to drink?” asked the barmaid.
“Do you have any bourbon?” I asked.
“Si, we have Jim Beam.”
“OK. I’ll have that.”
She poured the drink and marked it on the bottle then set it down in front of me and went back to her perch she was sitting on. She was talking to the other guy, but he turned around and included me in the conversation.
“Hey! Where are you from?” he asked.
“From the States,” I answered.
“Well, I figured that. Where in the States?”
He nodded his head. “I’m from Oregon. You been here before?”
“Yeah, I live here now.”
“A lot of ex-pats here, that’s for sure! I guess that’s why they call it “Gringo Land.”
He laughed. He had a bottle of beer sitting in front of him and a shot of tequila. He downed the tequila and chased it with a slug of beer.
The barmaid looked over in my direction and said, “Do you want to play a game?”
“What kind of a game?”
“It’s called 21. You roll the dice. There are three winners. One who calls the shot. One who pays, and one who drinks the shot. Do you want to play?”
“Sure, why not? Let’s play!”
So, we took turns rolling six or seven dice out onto the bar from a leather cup. Each time the barmaid counted the tops of the dice. I won the first roll so I called the shot.
“What shot do you want?” she asked, pointing to the bottle of tequila behind the bar.
“What are you drinking?”
She pointed to a bottle.
“OK. That’s what I want.”
She poured out a shot and set it on the bar in front of us. We rolled some more. First the guy from Oregon, then the barmaid. At the end of the game, the Oregon guy drank and paid for the shot I called. We all laughed and he left.
In the meantime, the other couple had left and there were only the two of us left in the bar. The barmaid and me. She walked over to where I was sitting.
She was dark and sloe-eyed with long black hair flowing over her shoulders. She was wearing a green plaid shirt with several of the top buttons undone, exposing her ample breasts.
“What’s your name, Gringo?” She smiled broadly.
“Phil,” I answered. “What’s yours?”
“Anna. At least that’s what I put on my Facebook page. You want another shot?”
“No thanks,” I said and then I left. Now, I will go home. I will lie in my bed and try to fall asleep. I will think of Anna and what it would be like to be with her. I am probably not the only one in town who has trouble sleeping at night, I thought to myself. Maybe I will dream of Anna. Maybe tomorrow I will find someplace to read. Maybe a quiet, clean, well-lighted place where I can sit and read in peace.