By Marie Hoy-Kenny
The day after Mick dumped her, Liza headed for the bar for the first time since she gave up the hard stuff. She ordered an old fashioned.
The bartender brought it to her, and she slugged it back with a dramatic shudder. “Is it supposed to taste that bad?” she asked.
“I pegged you as more of a sex on the beach type of girl,” the bartender said, running a hand through his rumpled brown hair.
Liza glared at him. Was every guy perverted? Wasn’t there another sweet drink he could have said that didn’t have the word sex in its name?
The bartender cocked his eyebrows. “You ok?”
“Fix me something hard that doesn’t taste like shit.”
He nodded, turned to grab bottles off the bar and poured a little of this and that like it was a chemistry project. He slid a drink at her, something slime green that tasted like lime and wasn’t half bad.
“Better,” Liza said and glanced at his name tag. “Thanks, Dan.”
Dan nodded and went to attend to the only other customer in the joint, a regular on the other side of the bar.
When Dan came back, Liza was dangling a ring on a gold chain over her palm. “Interesting way to amuse yourself.”
“Just checking if anything changed. Was supposed to have two kids last week.”
Dan watched as the ring looped around her palm. “I can see your hand moving.”
Liza gave Dan the finger, which she slipped the ring onto. She fastened the chain around her neck and chugged back her drink. “Another.” The guy across the bar was looking in her direction, so she shook her hair out of her ponytail until it draped across her shoulders like expensive curtains.
He stood up like she’d just snake-charmed him, climbed up on the barstool beside her. He grinned and stuck out his hand. “Eddie.” Then, to Dan: “Two of whatever she just finished.”
Liza and Eddie downed their fourth drink. His hands were on her thighs, and she was singing off-key, along with “Heart of Gold” on the radio.
“Two more,” Liza called, punching the bar with her fist. A little too hard, and she cradled her tender hand against her breast.
“Let’s get out of here,” Eddie said. “I have some bottles back at my place.”
Liza stood up, lost her footing for a minute, steadying herself on the bar.
Eddie dropped his card on the counter.
Dan shook his head. “Sorry, buddy. Debit’s down. You need to use the cash machine at the front.”
Eddie sighed loudly. “Be right back.”
Dan leaned across the bar. “I can’t let you leave with him. He’s in here bringing a new girl home every week. Plus, you’ve had too much.”
“What’s it to you?” Liza said.
“Hey, your hand was moving before, but mine’s steady. Stay and I’ll help you do that ring thing.
Call that guy tomorrow if you wake up still caring.”
Eddie came back and thrust a couple of bills at Dan.
“Washroom first,” Liza said.
Eddie waited for fifteen minutes before giving up and leaving for another bar.
Liza sat on the toilet with her pants on and stared at her palm until her eyes blurred. She was certain that her children lines had disappeared, and her life line was shorter.
Dan waited for a bit until it was nearly closing time before knocking on the stall door. “Excuse me, Miss. I gotta lock up. Should I call you a cab?”
“No, I’ll walk,” Liza said.
Dan was at the bar as Liza got to the exit. “Give me your ring and chain, I’ll do that thing for you now,” he said.
“Nah. I already know what it’s going to say.” Liza headed outside and down Hilmount to Mick’s house. She stood in front of his window and considered pelting stones against it until he stuck his head out, but she knew he’d just say, “Dammit Liza, are you back on the booze?” So, she turned away and weaved home, unaware of the grey Honda Civic inching behind her.