No, for the last time…
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By Chris Wood
Don was telling Francine all about himself, using a lot of finger pointing and other grand hand gestures as visual fireworks to his verbal descriptions. Stories abut being stuck in horrendous traffic jams and important meetings for work and posh bars and restaurants littered the otherwise silent and nearly vacant pub the two sat in.
“Right, then Stan, this guy, he – oh, I can’t friggin’ believe what he did – he takes the waiter by his apron and flings him, literally, into a crowded table. Oh, man! Ha, ha! We got the hell outta there fast after that, man, I tell ya!” Don stopped to gulp his bottled beer.
“Miss, another drink?” the bartender asked.
“No, I’m okay,” Francine held up her wine glass, still a quarter full with a light blush Turning Leaf.
“Hey, buddy,” Don chugged the rest of his beer and slid the bottle across the bar. “Keep ‘em coming. Long day, long day. Oh, so where was I?” Don, standing, put one foot on the bar’s brass runner. He leaned in toward Francine.
“Here’s your drink, sir,” the bartender retuned. He pushed the bottle, with a cocktail napkin underneath it, over to Don.
Don stared at the man then swiped up the beer and took a sip. His balance was off and his body was swaying back and forth, slowly, like a tether ball in a moderate wind. “This place sucks and the service….Ah!” Don continued staring at the bartender, who had gone back to his closing duties. “So, you wanna come back to my place?”
“I’m just round the corner, there,” Don pointed out the window of the bar to the apartments on the other side of the street.
Francine took a sip of her wine. “I said, no.”
“Frannie, please!” Don squatted and held out his arms.
“Look at you, huh!” Francine glared. “And don’t call me Frannie. We’ve only met tonight!”
“Everything alright here?” the bartender walked over.
“Beat it!” Don slammed his fist on the bar.
“Okay, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave,” the bartender placed his hands on his sides.
“Piss off will ya!” Don demanded.
“That’s it!” the bartender walked to the end of the bar and walked around to the other side. “You better be gone when I get there!” The bartender whistled at two waiters who were smoking a cigarette at a table in the back corner of the room.
Don took another big sip of his beer then threw the bottle to the floor. It smashed and white foam consumed a one foot radius a few feet in front of Don.
“What the?” the bartender, now joined by the two waiters, shook his head. He looked at the two waiters, “C’mon let’s take out the trash.”
“Wait, wait!” Francine jumped in front of Don. “Stop, please!” Francine turned to Don. “Let’s go, please…” she urged him.
Don was standing there attempting to portray that of a sturdy oak, but because of his balance being off, looked more like a sapling at the mercy of a hurricane. He grunted an inaudible sound.
“Look at this,” one of the waiters pointed to the pool of beer and brown broken glass. “We’re gonna be here for another damn hour,” he moaned.
“Get him out now!” the bartender shouted.
Francine patted Don on his shoulder and gently turned him around toward the door.
“Get a hold on your alcohol!” the bartender yelled.
Don started to turn back around, but Francine grabbed his face and set it back straight. “Let’s go, here we go now…” Francine was acting like a buoy, keeping the stumbling Don afloat. She shuffled her feet as his tipped one way then scrambled over to the other side as he teetered the other way.
Once outside, Francine leaned Don against the wall near the bar’s outside window. She rummaged through her purse for her cell phone then call information. “Hello? Hi, um, I need a cab. I’m in front of Donovan’s on Boyle Street. Okay, okay, thank you,” Francine hung up. Whew, she thought.
“Hey, Frannie,” Don, in a baritone tone, called. “Come to my apartment, will ya?” Don’s head was leaning back against the wall and his eyes were partially open.
“Jesus, why did I help you out?” Francine shook her head. “I should have let those guys tear you apart!”
“C’mon, c’mon, Frannie. Why’d ya talk to me then, huh? Huh?”
“I don’t know, I really don’t,” she adjusted her purse on her shoulder.
“Just help me to my apartment and you can come up and I, I,” Don hiccupped, “I can sleep on the couch.”
“Please, please,” Don slurred.
“No, for the last time!” Francine spun around on her toes and walked toward the end of the block.
Don kept mumbling as he leaned.