I'm a loser, and I've lost someone who's dear to me. I'm a loser, and I'm not what I appear to be.
I got off work last night, and since it was Thursday the draft beer at Felber's was only seventy five cents. I try not to miss going there on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the seventy five cent nights.
It was pretty empty for a Thursday. There were four or five people by the Linux game machine on the bar by the front door. Most people don't know that those MegaTouch machines at all the bars run Linux, and I wouldn't have either except that a few years ago when I was at Mojo's, Rier tripped over the cord to his and unplugged it. When it booted up, well, it was pretty obvious what OS it was running.
Kathy was at the other end of the bar with two Budweiser bottles in front of her. I walked down and sat a stool away, figuring Jim must be around somewhere.
"Hi," I said. "Where's your old man?"
"I left the motherfucker."
"No shit? Where are you living now?"
She told me the address, up at the north end of town, which I promptly forgot. "I'm staying with my daughter until I find a place," she said.
I moved to the stool next to her. "I figured that was his beer."
"There are two of 'em there..."
"Oh, wow, there are. I've been drinking since six this morning. I haven't had any pot."
"I guess it's been a bad week for everybody. I threw Tami out."
"She was fucking some twenty five year old kid all weekend."
"What's it to you? You two weren't together!"
"If she was going to fuck somebody she should have been fucking me!"
"She told me she wanted to."
"Huh?" I was a bit discombobulated by this.
"Yeah, she said she kept trying but every time she tried you brought up her husband."
"She told me that she wasn't ready," I said. "She wanted to do it 'for the right reasons', that she wanted to be divorced first."
"She really had strong feelings for you", she said.
"Wow. Um, wow. I don't know what to think," I stammered. I changed the subject, a little embarrassed. "Your hair's different," I said. "I like it."
"What's different about it?" she asked suspiciously.
"The color's different, it's lighter. Something else too, that I can't put my finger on, did you cut it?"
"No, I just dyed it. I've been dying my hair since I was sixteen."
Kathy's pretty damned good looking for a woman my age. She's not my age, she's almost ten years younger, but cigarettes and booze will make a person look older. She's fit, and has a nice body and a cute little button nose and glasses.
There's something about a woman with glasses that turns me on. I guess I'm a freak.
Some guy maybe twenty years my junior with a ponytail sat down on her other side and started hitting on her. I said "'scuse me, I need to make a phone call. Watch my beer for me, would you?"
I went outside and called Linda. "Can I come over Saturday and use your dryer? I need to wash some towels." My clothes dryer has been broken for the last couple of months and I've been hanging clothes up to dry.
"Sure," she said, "If I'm still living there."
"Huh?" This was an incredibly perplexing night. I was going to ask her about what Kathy had said about Tami.
"They took my baby today."
"Huh? What do you mean they took your baby? Who took it?"
"DCFS came out with two sherriff deputies and took her today."
"Huh? Why? What happened?"
"It was all the fighting and all the cops that have been showing up since Ralph went in the hospital."
"My God," I said. "That's terrible. Jesus, I'm really sorry. I wish there was something I could do!"
"You can buy me a beer."
"Ok," I said. "Let me finish the one I have and I'll come get you."
"I'm at the Blue Grouch".
"Ok, I'll be there shortly." I hung up, and the phone said I had a missed call - Charlie. I called Charlie back, and she said she needed a ride in about an hour. "Sure" I said, "just call me." I went back in, and there was a bald fellow getting ready to sit in my stool.
"Hey, that's my new boyfriend's stool!" Kathy said, and winked at me.
I put my arm around her and smiled. "Yeah!"
And then she grabbed my ass! And introduced me to him - he was her son in law, her daughter was there with her. I asked Kathy out for dinner. And wound up getting kissed right on the mouth before the night was out!
I think I have a new girlfriend - fingers crossed! Of course, with my luck she and Jim will be back together before Tuesday when I'm supposed to take her out; right now I'm so broke I can't afford to pay attention. Monday's payday and I have to buy a tire for my car that evening, I've been driving on the donut since the blowout in Cahokia.
I finished my beer and told them I'd be back. "Can't you have one more beer?" Kathy asked. I sorrowfully told her I had to go help a friend out with a ride.
When I got to the Grouch, Tami was there with Linda, who was sitting next to Bill and Danny. This isn't the same Danny that fathered Tami's kid, this Danny used to own the place. He's a bona-fide war hero and gets pissed off if you tell anybody he's a hero. "I didn't do anything anybody else wouldn't have done," he once told me. But shit, the guy's got two purple hearts and a silver star from that damned Vietnam war.
I talked with Bill and Danny for a while, then pulled Tami aside and asked her about what Kathy had said. She denied it. And told me that the kid she'd been having sex with stole all her money!
Charlie called; she was outside the Grouch. "I'm inside" I said, and went out to give her the ride, and back to Felber's. I didn't want to drink with Tami. I did want to drink with Kathy!
By eight thirty or nine I told her and her family I had to go home as my damned clock was going to annoy me early. I'm meeting her after work today at Felber's.
I went home happy, and fell asleep on my porch swing with a beer in my hand.
Next: The Sky is Crying