Four minutes past midnight. I picked up my glass and finished off my vodka soda. It went down smooth yet I caught myself grimacing in the mirror. I leaned in close to examine the bristles of growth forming at my chin and upper lip. I smiled and felt my belly grow warm and my face softly humming with the sweet tune of alcohol.
I turned to the door and went out into the dimly lit hallway, slowly stalking back to the bar to refill my glass before heading back into the lounge to catch the last songs of a lovely three-piece jazz band with a stunning female vocalist whose voice was so powerful it evaporated my buzz and sent me out of my chair and back into the bar to dive back into the waters of safety and comfort.
I ordered another drink before returning to my table. A guy about my age was seated near me wearing a fine suit topped with a gorgeous head of hair dark as pitch slicked back to the neck. I took my seat and allowed the band to carry me away, but not too far. I sipped slowly and found a moment to ask the man next to me what the name of the band was. I already knew, of course, but one has a tendency to ask questions more often as an exercise in social interaction than anything else.
“Frontier Tailor,” he said with a tight grin. “But you already knew that, didn’t you.”
I watched his eyes bounce between my own and I let out a nervous chuckle before saying, “I had no idea, just walked in.”
He said, “But I’ve been watching you all night. You’re on your sixth drink. You first arrived with two others, where are they?”
I had no idea what he was talking about and I scrambled to remember. I picked up my drink and slowly brought it up to my mouth as I squinted in deep thought. “You might have me mistaken with someone else,” I said, then took a pull.
“Whatever you say, friend,” he said with an outstretched hand. I embraced it and said, “Timothy, or Tim, or whatever.” He shook firmly and said, “It’s a pleasure making your acquaintance, Whatever.” We both smiled and he knocked his glass against mine with a smile and we drank together until the music ended and the club was empty and I fell asleep in the bathroom until a hostess kicked me out.
So I wandered into the cold morning towards the public library which wouldn’t be open for another couple hours but at least I could warm up at the diner next door with a cup of coffee and plate of pancakes.