It doesn’t sit for long, but neither does he. A complacent look upon his face always causes me to wonder…do I initiate a conversation, keep my mouth shut, smile…When I do try and say something the blank stare I receive back as my response causes me to hang my own head and wait.
Some days the Bud Light flows more easily as does the conversation - I pour six glasses instead of three. I never mind his presence or the generous tips he always leaves without hesitation. And I think he leaves them with a hidden satisfaction. He knows we like the money, not him. Do we, the men and women that serve him poor tasting liquid to ease his sorrows, care if comes again tomorrow?
His motionless/emotionless face tells me everything. I know what happened when he was eight and nearly drowned in his neighbour’s pool. I know what no one else knows - he didn’t want Mrs. Harsgrove to save him - he didn’t want to keep on knowing all the he knew - he wanted to know it was over.
Sometimes I feel when he sits down that his bad day, week, month, life become our fault. He wants more from us than to be his bartenders. And we our doing our best to resolve our mistakes… we pour the Bud Light, offer a few slight remarks, and turn our backs.
His build is large. Square shoulders. The small frames of his eyeglasses prevent me from seeing any further into what I already know. But how I came to know so much already, the hurt, that girl from 9 th grade, and the year he rushed Sigma Chi is known and flashed back through those same glasses trying to conceal anything else from me, maybe from anyone.
But I turn around and all I see is the empty schooner and the wet beverage napkin. Like he’s always wanted, Russell is gone and no one had to watch him leave. Like the nothing that fills a child’s playful afternoon, or the facial expression on his girlfriend’s face that is precisely that…Russell will be back.
Quickly, like that moment you wait for the entire week, I’ve forgotten his face, where he left his Camaro the first nite he got drunk but knew not to drive “Stella”. I’ve forgotten. I’ve forgotten until I feel the unknowing glance of his slate eyes or the empty weight of my pocketbook. I’ve forgotten. And insanely and cold-hearted as it really is, I don’t care.