My father would have loved the place. It had the kind of wooden floor that he liked.
He would have fancied himself a cowboy from one of his books. Would probably give me one of his looks saying we should saunter to the bar, real slow, as if expecting danger. We’d be forlorn travellers on a journey to somewhere – insisting that journeying can be thirsty work indeed.
I collapsed into a low armchair and looked around the room.
‘Excuse me’, said a waitress, ‘would you like something to drink?’
I ordered two pints of beer.
The waitress returned and placed the drinks on the table in front of me. She asked whether I’d like to see the Father’s Day specials. I shook my head and she melted back to work. I slid one pint to the side and covered it with dad’s old coat, took three gulps of the other and let my body sigh deeper into the chair.
A candle flickered at my table, pulsing light onto her waxy dress. My father loved candles like that. I could almost hear him wonder aloud at the age of the establishment. And what famous people from history might have snuck in on a Tuesday afternoon for a drink and to finish the final few lines of a masterpiece, and whether they might’ve sat in this very chair or perhaps that other one.
I miss drinking with my father. His cheeks would shine, and his eyes would sparkle. He’d laugh at my jokes and have to remind himself that other people, besides us, existed.
I heard him from across the room.
He carried his bluster like an old friend and the floorboards groaned thank you beneath us as he walked over, reached down, picked up my half-drunk pint and finished it. He placed it on the table and grinned.
I removed the full pint from under my coat and took some time making it disappear.
‘Your round’, I half belched.
‘Well that was bloody brilliant, wasn’t it? What would you have done if I hadn’t done that?’
‘Probably would’ve said “surprise”, and given you the full beer.’
‘And I’d have looked at you oddly.’
‘And all would’ve been right with the world.’
He laughed and embraced me.
‘Hey, dad,’ he said.
‘Hello, boy,’ I said.
We sat together and the waitress was there. My son ordered more beer.
‘Would you like to see the Father’s Day specials?’ she asked him.
‘Hells yeah, we would,’ he said, and held up his half of a high five to which mine was comfortably added.
The waitress pirouetted away.
‘What do you think of the place?’ he said.
‘I came here with some friends of mine the other day. It reminds me of Grandpa and the cowboy stories he liked to tell. Oh, and they have ice in the urinals, I know you love that. And wait ‘til I tell you who used to drink here.’
The waitress returned with two more beers.
‘Happy Father’s Day, old man.’
Thanks, my boy.
[Photo: Krisztina Papp@almapapi for unsplash]