The Stranger's journey has now come full circle.
Join me in the bright sunshine at When Words Go Free...

There are still stories to be told.
Read them at The Stranger Looks Back.

I Know This Bar

The bartender polished the last of the glasses and slid it into the rack. The jukebox was playing James Carr, which seemed to please the young lady who had asked him to give it a kick. He didn't remember her having been to the bar before, but he did recognize her from a poetry competition he had attended in town earlier.

He noticed that she was much younger than she had seemed at that first meeting; in fact, he now wondered if she were even old enough to be there. The wedding ring on her finger told him she probably was, and the look on her face told him she probably needed to be there.

She sat in relative silence, occasionally getting up to pick a tune, then returning to her seat in the shadows. A few of the regulars dropped in and out for some banter and music, and the bartender filled the intervening silence with his own picks. Some of them brought a smile to her face, others seemed to evoke a bittersweet tear. When she asked him how he picked the perfect song for every moment, he said it was just luck of the draw.

She came in almost every night after that, always sitting at the same table. One of those evenings, a stranger who would not remain one wandered in and pulled up a seat beside the juke. As they took turns dropping the quarters, the bartender appreciated the newcomer's own luck of the draw. The young lady enjoyed the attention from these duelling d.j.s, and the three of them had a most pleasant time together.

One evening when they seemed to be alone there, the bartender noticed that she looked particularly sad, and ventured to ask what was on her mind. She told him of her lover, and how she sometimes doubted his love for her. She showed the bartender a picture of him, one that she kept posted on her bulletin board, and the bartender asked if she had taken the picture. She had.

The bartender pointed at how her lover was looking at the camera she had been holding - how he was looking at her - and said she had no need to doubt this man's love for her. Perhaps, the bartender thought aloud, he was not as skilled at romance as she would sometimes like, but she should not confuse that with any lack of love. He was young, he would learn.

They talked long into the night, and said their goodbyes as the sun came up. After that, she dropped in less often, and the bartender hoped this was because she was spending the time with her lover. Her visits became more infrequent, and eventually, she stopped coming by at all.

The bar grew and flourished, attracting a loyal crowd of regulars and many passers-by, but the bartender never forgot the young lady who had been so much a part of its early days. Sometimes, as he polished a glass or kicked the jukebox, he would glance at the window, and wonder if he had just seen a shadow pass by.


Just Me said...

Legacy, this is absolutely brilliant. I can identify,(partly) not with the young lady but with the bartender.Actually, I had played the same role a long time back with a boy in my class whom I had secretly adored. The way you have captured the emotions so subtle, yet poignant, speaks lots about your perceptions in life.

Sotapop said...

This is so very wonderful, my favourite for sure within the last few. I enjoy the picture it paints in my head.

Anonymous said...

Legs......I love it when I actually understand exactly what you are saying.

It doesn't happen very often, so let's just revel in this moment.

Kate Mohler said...

You've painted a very vivid scene here. But I wonder: Does the Stranger ever laugh? Everything seems so sad.

Dave said...

Pull up a stool.

Anonymous said...

Hey, stranger. Thanks.

It wasn't a shadow.

Anonymous said...

You know I've always wondered what happened to Romance

CarmenT said...

Beautiful post. It's been awhile since I've been here. Good to be back.

Anonymous said...