The rain was coming down in buckets; large drops splashing nearly a foot high as they fell. Daniel sat in the corner of a neighborhood pub with a finished pint of beer in front of him, idly scrolling through apps on his phone.
“Another?” the bartender called out from behind the bar.
Daniel looked up and pointed to himself. The bartender nodded. Daniel shook his head and went back to his phone. The bartender pulled another pint anyway. Daniel sighed and muttered to himself, “Even the bartender doesn’t give a shit what I say.”
The bartender set the beer in front of Daniel. “I’ll order you a burger, or something. When’s the last time you ate?” he asked.
Incredulous, Daniel snapped, “I’ve ate.”
“Yeah, right. I’ll order you a burger.”
Daniel picked up the pint and took two big gulps. After a long month of feeling about as blue and numb as he could remember, the chill of the glass in his hand and the warmth of the alcohol down his throat was a welcome sensation. He took another gulp and then resumed picking his way through various web sites on his phone. He wasn’t looking for anything, nor reading anything. Just passing time.
The burger arrived surrounded by a stack of onion rings and a heaping mess of salad. A giant steak knife was stabbed through the middle of the bun.
“I also got you a salad. We need to be smarter about eating balanced meals,” the bartender explained.
As the smell of grilled beef hit his nose, Daniel realized how hungry he was. He devoured the monster sandwich in a matter of seconds, not bothering to cut it in half, as the presentation with a giant steak knife suggested. He shoved the onion rings in his mouth just as fast, pausing only to take bites of the salad and gulps of beer. When he was done, he pushed the demolished plate away from him and sat back. Closing his eyes, he could hear the rain drumming on the roof. So calm, so peaceful. Maybe he’d just sleep here a bit.
“Tell you what,” the bartender said, interrupting Daniels reverie. “I’m the owner of this place, and I know a guy down on his luck when I see him. Tell you what: How ‘bout you come work for me.”
Daniel was taken aback. “I…don’t…”
“Look, I noticed you’ been in a lot these past weeks. You aren’t working, at least, not at a regular job. Your girl, or boyfriend,” the bartender held up a hand, “I’m not judging, just sayin’ I bet you’ve been through a breakup as well.”
“Something like that,” Daniel confessed.
“Occupational hazard,” the bartender smiled. “It may be a cliché, but it’s also a fact. Run a pub and you learn to read people real fast, and what I read about you is that you are a good guy down on his luck. And I can use the help, else I wouldn’t be tending bar, waiting tables, as well as running the joint.”
“I don’t know…” Daniel began.
“Ever tended bar? Wait tables?”
“Sort of. In high school. I worked at a Baskin Robbins.”
A group of three people walked in. The bartender excused himself to wait on them and then came back to talk to Daniel, who was now up and putting on his coat. He handed the bartender wad of cash for his bill.
The bartender counted the cash and handed back a ten. “I’m Jack. Jack O’Connell,”
“Ah. Jack at Arms,” Daniel nodded, shaking the man’s hand. Hence, the name of the pub, he thought. “I’m Daniel. Shapiro. You made the wrong change,” handing back the ten.
Jack shook him off. “Keep it.”
“Look, Jack, I appreciate whatever it is you’re doing man, and the job offer, but I don’t know about it, I…”
“No worries. Just think about it. Gimme a call later today,” Jack walked to the register and handed Daniel a business card.
“What I was going to say is, I do work. I mean, I have a job. But, here’s the thing: I work from home. Freelance, so sometimes I’m stretching it to make bills…I mean, what I’m saying is, I’ll think about it.” Daniel shook Jack’s hand again and headed out into the rain.
There are worse things than working in a pub, Daniel thought has he made his way to his car. Having a reliable, regular source of income, no matter how small, would help. Maybe this was the sort of change he needed to put the misery of the past month behind him.
This week’s OLWG is a continuation of last week’s story. The prompts are: Rain drumming on the roof; I don’t know about this,; Snickersnee. I absolutely did not write and edit this in only 25 minutes (tee-hee). I enjoyed writing this too much to limit my time. In case you want to catch up, the Susan and Daniel story started here and then went on here, then back to here.