Short Story Saturday: A Night at Phillies

nighthawks_by_edward_hopper_1942She sits there, at her usual place at the end of the bar. Old man Phil pours her a double whiskey neat and slides it down her way. What a dame. A woman as beautiful as her who can drink with the boys.

I’ve been watching her for months, now. And I doubt she even knows I come here.

Phillies is one of those bars that just opens its arms to all its patrons, giving them what they need, whether that’s a drink, an escape, or an excuse. That’s why I come here. Anything to get away from my life outside these walls. I don’t want to go back to my loveless marriage of convenience. I don’t want to go back to working at the factory for my wife’s father, but I got no choice.

Bobby needs to go to a good school so he don’t turn out like his old man. He’s better than than. He’s got the grades to go to university, even. And that’s what I want for him, even if he don’t want that for himself. I want him to have what I never did. I want him to live, not just go through the motions. He needs passion and a woman that loves him in his life. I just hope me and the missus haven’t damaged his view on what a proper marriage is.

But even I know that when it’s based off nothin’ but convenience, eyes wander, hands stray. As long as it’s behind closed doors, not in public, then it’s alright. I can get through it. It’s nights like this where I’m sittin’ here looking at that beautiful woman across from me that I imagine I could have loved my wife if the situation were different.

She’s pretty, in that classic sense with her hard perfectly curled around the nape of her neck, shining golden in the sun. She ain’t got a bad figure, neither. With a small smile and eyes that will light up a room, I could have loved her. But now I don’t want her.

I’ve become somewhat of the town fool.

I hear these stories about her around the water cooler, always in hushed tones. Like the guys don’t know I’m standin’ there, listening to what they’re sayin’. So I come to Phillies. I watch this lovely woman with red hair like a fiery sunset and a body that would make a weaker man weep on his knees. A string of men always come in and buy her a drink, but she don’t go home with them. No, she’s pure class.

I look up at her briefly, taking in her perfectly adorned makeup and stunning red dress. Must have been on a date earlier. What a lucky guy. I’d kill for the chance to be on her arm for a night. Hell, any fella in their right mind would. I stare into my drink, swirling the last of it and down it in one. Some liquid courage may do me some good after all.

I get up, walk over to her, and smile what I hope is a charmin’ one.

“Is this seat taken, miss?”

She shakes her head and a smile lights up her features. “Please, sit.”

It’s like I’ve died and met my maker. Ain’t nobody gonna believe me, and ain’t nobody gonna know about this night.

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