By: James Dubeau
I walked into the Maverick Bar in Farmington, New Mexico unsure of what I would find. She had to be there. She was supposed to be there. All signs had pointed to this dump on the outskirts of town, but she wasn’t there. Not in the gravel parking lot or in the Navy pilot memorabilia laden interior.
Only a handful of patrons were sparsely placed across the room. None of my fellow drinkers were too close to each other, clearly following the man-law urinal etiquette. Sorrows were gasping for air as each bottle was slowly drained. Only the bartender offered any real solace to the drinkers.
It was still early. There was plenty of time yet for her to show tonight. I ordered a Shiner and leaned my chair against the wall. Time slowly ticked by as I tipped my beer back time and again. My perch against the far wall opened up the rest of the room. Not a soul could cross the threshold without my weary old eyes seeing. Eyes which showed disinterest with the world to any who looked up from their dwindling bottle in front of time. If anyone else in the room had enough interest to look up, that is.
Rental charges on my beer started to acuminate as a forest of empty brown bottles started to grow upon the table. Solutions to my current problems were not at the bottom of any of those empties. Maybe the next would solve my predicament, or the one after that one. It really didn’t matter when the answer came, it would eventually.
Idly my fingers picked at another beer bottle label, slowly pulling it from the glass without tearing the paper. A tall drink of water which entered the saloon did not escape me. Her tight jeans and gray tank top didn’t leave much to the imagination. The bartender was dropping a little umbrella into a colorful drink as she approached the bar. With a smile and wink she snatched the drink and bubbled her way to a table. Long brunette curls bounced as gum smacked between her cotton candy lips.
My fingers traced over the corners of the photograph in my pocket as I crossed the bar for the restroom. I had looked over that picture a thousand times if I had looked at it once. It was her. I could feel it in every bone of my body.
Vacating the tavern floor for even a moment with my prey present was a much needed risk. It gave me the chance to get a closer look to confirm my suspicions. When I returned from the restroom I was relieved. Not only did my much needed piss grant me a new level of comfort but she was still seated right where I left her. Her head bobbed along with the music as she sipped her colorful concoction.
I smiled as I turned one of the chairs at her table around and sat, arms crossed on the chair’s back. “What brings you out on a Tuesday evening?”
Her toothy white smile responded to mine. “Pete used to have bitchin’ karaoke on Tuesday nights. Haven’t seen you here before, I could ask the same of you sailor.”
“Just needed some time to think, I suppose.”
“Frustrated?” she nodded to the grove of label-less brown bottles.
“You could say that,” I chuckled. “Been looking for something, but just haven’t been able to get my fingers on it. You know how that is?”
“Don’t I know it sugar,” she held her hand out. “My name is Charlotte, but all my friends call me Charlie.”
I took her silky smooth hand into mine, “Jack’s the name. My friends call me, well, my acquaintances add a certain three letter word onto that.”
Charlie laughed. “Has this dive helped you sort out your thoughts?”
“Not fully,” I shook my head. “I may have to return tomorrow night.”
“I get my best thinking done at the Blackwood downtown. Maybe you should give that one a try.”
“That just might have to fit onto my schedule before I leave town.”
She took a sip from her drink before standing, leaving the half empty glass on the table. “Unfortunately I must make this a short evening. Good luck on all that brings you to Farmington.”
“Thank you. It was a pleasure to meet you.” I had smiled and watched her firm ass as she glided from the tavern.
The conversation all but confirmed everything. She had the five-hundred thousand. Not enough to live to exuberantly, but enough to get by on for a while. She was a smart girl, no doubt she will be watching for a tail tonight. Will have to play things safe for a while and earn her trust before bringing her back. There is still time while the expense account lasts.