Waiting for Happy Hour

Story 7

Friday, March 13, 2020

The bartender counted her tips when Chef took a seat at the bar.

“This is nuts,” said the bartender putting fifty dollars in her pocket.

“Slow?” asked Chef.

She ran a hand through her long straight hair.

“Three weeks ago, I pulled in fifty dollars in two hours every Friday night.”

She put a glass with ice in front of Chef and filled his glass with Glenlivet Whisky.

Chef lifted his glass and sipped the whiskey. A smile appeared on his face, but the smile did not last long. Chef put his glass on the bar.

“You don’t have to tell me,” Chef said. “There are only so many coutertops you can clean in a kitchen before you lose your mind.”

The bartender laughed, but it was not the laugh you heard from her weeks ago.

“You heard Broadway closed, right?” Chef said.

The bartender reached beneath the bar for a damp rag.

“What a shame,” she said wiping the bar top.

Chef looked at his glass of whiskey. He wrapped his large hand around the glass.

“You think Broadway will open again?” asked the bartender.

Chef sipped his drink.

“You’re asking me?”

Just then the pastry chef sat at the bar. She scrolled her iPhone.

“A hundred thirty-five thousand positives worldwide.”

Nobody said anything until the pastry chef asked for a double Queens Cocktail. When the bartender started mixing her drink, the pastry chef went back to scrolling her phone.

“Almost five thousand so far,” she said, her voice sullen.

Chef finished his drink and pushed the glass forward. “What are you talking about?”

“Deaths,” said the pastry chef.

Minutes later the bartender gave the pastry chef her Queens Cocktail. The scent of the gin, vermouth, and pineapple juice eased the atmosphere at the bar.

“You know this might get worse?” Chef asked the two of them while motioning for more whiskey.

The pastry chef sipped her cocktail and held the glass over the bar. She looked at herself in a mirror along the back of the bar’s wall.

“Today’s Friday, right?”

Chef scratched his head. “What does that have to do with anything?”

The pastry chef took another sip of her cocktail. “Well, Sunday is still going to come no matter what direction this insanity takes. Isn’t that right?”

She looked at the bartender who forced a smile. “Well, at least the president declared a national emergency. It’s not as if he’s ignoring all this, too.”

Chef finished what remained in his glass. The bartender asked if Chef wanted more whiskey. “Not tonight,” Chef said, putting the glass on the bar top. Then, he stood and put on his coat.

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