Somehow, for yet another week in a row, you find yourself at the same spot. The same bar, the same stool, the same tinted light over your head bathing your entire visual spectrum in a chill blue tint. Why you’ve been doing this every week, you’re not entirely certain. It’s not for the company, that’s for sure. On the nights you’re not here alone, the only other ones here are pretty much doing the same things you are; sitting hunched over drinks of various shades and proof-contents, and either nursing them contemplatively, or making talk with the bartender. It’s interesting, you think; no matter how crowded or quiet it is, you’ve never been able to make out what anyone else is saying. Nothing that you can remember, anyway.
“Get you another one?”
Startled, you look up. The bartender, the same one that always seems to be there whenever you are, stares at you with those dark eyes and that same vague smile he always seems to be wearing. Like his facial expression, the tone is friendly, but only just. You stare back at him, and then down at your glass. You hadn’t even noticed you’d finished.
“Uh, sure.” you reply.
“Same again?” asks the bartender.
Instinctively, you get ready say no. The drink wasn’t good; and you remember the first thought that popped into your head as it passed your lips was “unpleasant.” Beyond that, however, you can’t for the life of you figure out as to why. Trying to recall the taste, your first thought is that it may have been too sweet; but then, there’s another thought that makes you want to it was too bitter. Either way, you didn’t like it, you know that for a fact.
And yet, you finished it without even knowing.
“Sure, why not?” you say; the words spilling out before you can think to bite them back. The bartender nods, still smiling, and turns toward a shelf.
“Rough week?” he asks, without looking back.
You blink. This is the first time you can recall hearing anything from him not involving getting a drink or starting one.
“Excuse me?” you ask.
“I said: ‘rough week.'” he replies. ” It seems like you had one.”
Well, he’s not wrong; you think. Although, really, it wasn’t rougher than most of the other ones; just more of the same; aside from a few things here and there. Rough enough, you suppose.
“Guess you could say that.” you reply.
“You get those forms in for review?” the bartender asks.
Wait, what? You begin to sit up a little straighter.
“I’m sorry, what?” you ask.
“The forms.” He says, still mixing the drink. “The ones needed for the end of the month; the ones you needed to redo that your boss has to sign off on.”
Now, your attention is completely focused on the bartender. How could he possibly know about that? Even if for some reason, you had a reason to start getting chatty with him, which you’re damn certain has never happened here, there could be no conceivable reason you can see as to why you would bring up the forms. Furthermore, even if you did, there would be absolutely no reason to bring up the fact that you needed to redo them; not even your boss knows about that. After all–
“After all, you don’t want to get fired.” the bartender continues.
Your thoughts begin to race. What the hell is going on here? You couldn’t have; you wouldn’t have. Even were you to go out on a limb and say that there was a possibility, however remote, you got buzzed or drunk enough to talk, there has never been a point where you wouldn’t have remembered it; at least the fact that it happened. And again, even were that to be the case, it never has; at least not here.
“Excuse me?” you say. “I don’t remember ever saying anything about that.”
The bartender stops what he’s doing and wheels around back towards you; fast enough that you’re almost not sure you saw it happen, and raps a glass down onto the bar in front of you.
“Sure you did.” he says. “Last week, remember? You were all bent out of shape about it.”
You don’t remember; you honestly don’t. And yet, the way the bartender’s talking really makes it sound like you did.
You wrap your hand around the glass and stare at the contents. Like anything under these lights, it’s hard to a sense of what’s in there. Part of you wants to respond, but what else could you say? “Nuh-uh?” Maybe the best thing to right now would be to leave it.
“Oh! That reminds me.” the bartender pipes up, again, “you ever clear the air with Tom? I know that was bugging you last week, too.”
That’s it; that is it. You snap your head up and glare at him. he stares back; that kinda-smile still pasted on his face. The papers were one thing, but there was no way, no goddamn way he would know about the Tom thing. Time for some answers.
“Now you listen here–” you start.
“Wait; hold that thought.” the bartender interjects. “Looks like you could use a refill.”
You stop. Whatever you were about to say catches in your throat as you slowly look down.
An empty glass sits on the bar in front of you.
“So, what do you say?” The bartender grins; a wide, white smile. “Same again?”