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She Calls The Shots
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PUBLISHED BY: L.L. Craft Publications
She Calls The Shots
Copyright © 2015 by L.L Craft
She Calls The Shots
“Hey, buddy, you ready for another one?”
I glanced up from my phone to see the bartender indicating the empty bottle of Bud in front of me.
“Not sure yet.” I answered.
The beer was my third in the hour I’d been here and I didn’t want to drive home with a buzz. It was three days before Christmas and the police were out in force looking to nail people on their way home from parties.
“Well if you’re done, you need to leave.” He informed me, “Bar policy, you’re not drinking you’re not staying.”
“I can see my seat would be in high demand.” I made a show of looking up and down the length of the bar which had far more empty stools than full ones.
“You got me there.” The bartender laughed, “But the boss can show up anytime, and, hey you know how it is.”
I nodded and looking back at my phone saw it was eight thirty, Kevin had told me to get here for eight to meet him. I’d tried calling twice, but he wasn’t answering and I was getting pissed off. I debated paying my tab and leaving, but what the hell, Kevin was the only friend who had kept in touch with me since Laura and I had called it quits months ago. Not surprising seeing Kevin wasn’t Laura’s friend, or one of our mutual friends, but my friend.
How he was still my friend, I didn’t know. During the ten years of my ill fated marriage to Laura I’d been forced to keep him at arm’s length because Kevin wasn’t the type of person Laura liked to spend time with. Like me, well the former me, Kev never cared about image, he cared about being himself and it showed in everything from how he dressed to what he ate and how he acted.
To many that was refreshing, a professor at a prestigious university dressing in jeans and heavy metal t-shirts when not in a classroom-and occasionally when in one-and living on fast food and faster women. But to Laura that wasn’t how a man of our ‘caliber’ as she put it should act. Sadly I’d done what many men before and many after me would do, I fell for the power of the pussy and began dressing and acting the way she wanted me to.
“Umm…” The bartender cleared his throat.
“Sorry,” I tapped the bottle, “I’ll have another.”
With a practiced ease, he turned away from me, pulled another bud from the cooler beneath the back of the bar opened it and completed his three sixty by putting it down in front of me and grabbing the empty. Picking it up, I stared at the bottle and grinned. That’s right, you stuck up, bitch, I thought, I’m drinking beer, not some shitty tasting wine from some rich assholes vineyard, but the down to earth beverage of the every man. I took a long swallow of the beer and pictured Laura scrunching her face up in disgust like she did to everything ‘not good enough’ for her.
I swore that made the beer taste better and I chugged more than half of it before putting it down. As immature as that reaction was, it put me in a better mood than I had been in the weeks since our divorce had been finalized. I stared at the row of bottles along the shelves in front of me, wondering what I could do a shot of that would give me another visual of Laura’s disapproval.
The bar was mirrored and taking in my reflection I noted my appearance itself would be enough to get her to give me that look of disdain that I now realized was her permanent expression. The biggest offense to her would be that I’d let the grey come back into my still thick hair, returning it to its salt and pepper state it had been in since my mid thirties.
Kevin had always ragged on me, saying only girls and pretty boys colored their hair and deep down I agreed, but deferred to the preference of the person I thought meant most to me.
My hair wasn’t the only thing showing off my return to reality, as there was just as much salt showing in the neatly trimmed beard I had let come back after years of going clean shaven. If Laura was here and could get past my wanton display of the natural gray of a guy on the wrong side of fifty, my ensemble would be enough to send her into a seizure.
Although I still-and always would-dress professionally in the classroom; whenever I wasn’t in it, I’d returned to pre Laura, who cares as long as I’m comfortable, attire. A black Slipknot T-shirt worn un-tucked over a pair of black jeans that were about as faded and scarred as I felt these last few months.
A pair of black snakeskin boots, the last reminder of the days when I owned one of those ‘horrible’ motorcycles completed my un-professor like appearance and left me looking like…like a guy who could care less what others thought of him.
I winked at my scruffy reflection and tipping the beer downed the rest of it. I closed my eyes at the head rush that gave me and told myself settle down. Post divorce malaise, mid life crisis, or a spiteful good time aside, I was, at the end of the day, a professor, not a frat boy and DUI’s were frowned upon at work.
I glanced around the bar and my grin spread into a smile, if there was even a chance in hell I could get Laura into a dive like this she would probably faint at the sight of the scruffy Hell’s Angel’s wannabe’s that were lounging around the place.
The tables, chairs and bar itself didn’t look any more appealing than the clientele. Everything was cracked, chipped and scarred, I had to hold back a laugh when I looked over at the pool table and saw two of the sticks were duct taped in the middle.
The row of glasses in front of the bottles of liquor had a film of dust on them and I doubted the bartender would rinse them if someone wanted one. Then again anyone who asked for a glass in this place would probably be in the wrong place. It dawned on me this was why Kevin had told me to meet him here, this was a carbon copy of any bar I’d hung around in not just in our youth, but right up until I’d met her highness.
I was just going to give him a call and see what the hell was taking him so long when a smoky voice spoke from in front of me,
“Hey, want to share the joke?”