That evening, I stopped at the local bar for a beer before I went back to the office to work on another estimate. Mike was with his buddies around the pool table and he came over to say hello when he saw me walk in. “No women to hit up on” I asked “Not yet but the night is young. There is still plenty of time for someone to walk in” he said. He walked back to his buddies after I bought him a beer and resumed his attention to the pool table where he trying to hustle some stranger out of his money. The stranger was no slouch and beat Mike at his own game out hustling the hustler. Mike handed over his $20 with a laugh and the stranger thanked him and left.
I thought back to when I was just like Mike in my younger days. I spent a lot of my free time in a bar just like this one doing exactly the same things as Mike. The difference was I had respect for the law and was not into breaking it to make a buck. Truth was, I was afraid of jail and didn’t ever want to spend any time in one.
I looked around at the rest of the patrons. Over in the other corner was a group of older guys playing dominoes as they had done for as long as anyone could remember. Every night, the same four would show up, play a couple of games and then leave. I wondered if that was to be my lot as grew older. In the back of my mind, I had a sneaky suspicion that Jody, my wife, was going to leave sooner or later as our marriage was of little interest to her. I sighed and turned my attention to the bar.
There were a couple of pretty young things, Rachel and Elizabeth, sitting on the high bar stools showing lots of leg to all and sundry. Both were good-looking in a hard sort of way and they knew it as they cast their eyes over the patrons to see who they might be interested in. I smiled and said hi to them as I had known them both for a long time. At one time I had romantic thoughts about them but never bothered to pursue that line of thinking. For one thing, I had heard that a man could get into trouble with either of them as they had been around long enough and had enough men to provide any of their customers with an additional unwanted left over present of the STD kind. Whether that was true or just gossip, I was not in a hurry to find out. That didn’t mean that I was not going to talk to them. On the contrary they were good fun in the bar and were always laughing and joking. I just wasn’t going to take the other chance…
I asked the bar tender for a set of darts and started throwing them at the board. I started with the 1 and tried to work my way around to the 50 and han’t yet reach 15 when I sensed someone behind me. I turned around and there was Mrs Black standing and looking at me. I pulled the darts out of the board and then walked over to her. “Haven’t seen you in here before. I would think that you would be in the Royal Arms“. This was the name of a very smart, very nice hotel and bar further up the street. “Well to be truthfull, I was in there but saw your truck parked outside and decided to take a chance and come in”. she said. “Would you like a drink, we can go and sit at one of the tables if you prefer” I asked. Mrs Brown was out of her jeans and was dressed in this pretty blue, low-cut dress that showed her figure off very nicely. “You look very nice if you don’t mind me saying so” I said.
She smiled and I led her to one of the tables at the back of the room where we sat so we could both watch the rest of the bar patrons. The bar tender brought over our drinks, a scotch for me and a martini for Mrs Brown. “Let me introduce myself”, she said “My name is Valerie so we can get away from the formal Mrs Brown thing”. She laughed as she said it, the light twinkle of laughter that I had noticed when I was in her house. I said that “my name was Bob and now we both know each other”. She laughed again and said, “Tell me about yourself Bob. You are a very interesting man and I would like to know more about you”. My pulses quickened and I wondered why she wanted to know more about me. Could she possibly have some hidden agenda or was she trying to get herself a character reference seeing as how we were getting ready to sign a contract for my company to work in her house? Or was she interested in me as a man?
I was 40 years old, still reasonably good-looking and in very good physical shape as I looked after myself. I thought of my home situation and if I could afford a fling or if that would be the straw. Valerie brought me out of my thinking and said “What are you thinking about? You were miles away”. I smiled and lied “I was thinking about one of the jobs I have coming up”. “Enough of that. Am I that boring that you need to think of work. How about concentrating on me instead” I apologized and said how rude I was. “Thats OK, but don’t let it happen again” she responded.
I turned and looked at her. She had the most beautiful features, blue eyes, long blond hair and red lips that surrounded her white teeth. “That’s better she said. Do you like what you see. No, don’t answer that as that question doesn’t need an answer”. “Am I that transparent” I said as I looked at her. “Not a bit, but most men like what they see and I didn’t think you were the exception” she said We chatted some more and she said that she should be going as she had an early start the next day. I mumbled that I had to go work on an estimate and would leave to. We got up, I paid the bill leaving a decent tip and walked out to her car. “Thank you for entertaining me. I really enjoyed talking to you” she said. She leaned forward and kissed me lightly on the cheek and I felt that I was flying, “Stop by for coffee sometime”. With that, she got in her car and drove off into the night.
I drove back to the office and then sat there thinking over the evenings events. I hadn’t felt so light-headed over a women since I first met Jody. At that time, our relationship was such that sparks would fly if we made eye contact across a crowded room. I wondered what happens to that relationship to where it gets reduced to politeness and civility and very little more. I sighed again and turned back to the numbers in front of me and tried to concentrate on the estimate.