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The bar room was practically empty at two o’clock in the afternoon. A couple of blue collars on a late lunch break, but that was about it. Not even the afternoon winos had stumbled in yet. But then, some Tuesdays were slower than others. Jimmy sat behind the bar reading a newspaper and barely looked up at all when I walked in. It was a quick glance and a shrug as he set the paper down. I wasn’t even really sure why he read the paper. He was barely twenty two, most people his age prefer a tablet or some sort of e-reader, but Jimmy was old fashioned like that. He preferred a newspaper and a cigarette. ‘Course, the stupid health laws no longer permitted smoking indoors, but that was just an inconvenience.

I sat at my normal stool and pulled out my own set of papers. A racing form, two opinion pieces on what I should bet on, and a foot long tally of yesterday’s races. I’d had three winners, seven losers, and two I hadn’t bet on. I was convinced there was a system to it, if I could just find it.

Jimmy and I hadn’t spoken, but my lunch was ready in five minutes all the same. I hate to be that predictable about anything, but the Ocean bar’s Tuesday afternoon fish sandwich special was just not worth missing out on.

I liked the Ocean bar, but more, I liked Jimmy. Most bartenders will try to talk your ear off when the place is dead. I supposed I can’t really blame them. Everyone gets bored. But Jimmy was a quiet kid. He’d listen if you needed an ear, he’d talk if you were in the mood, but mostly he just left everyone alone and minded his own business. That kind of sense is pretty rare these days.

I putzed around with the racing form for about twenty minutes while I ate my sandwich. I was never able to put my finger on just why it was so good. The fish was about as fresh as you’d expect from a Tuesday afternoon bar special, but something about the sandwich was just so damned delicious. Maybe they make their own tartar sauce. I paused to consider the sandwich as the thought hit me. How the hell do you make tartar sauce anyway?

I pondered the question for a few moments, the way one does on a Tuesday. I even considered looking it up on my phone for a minute before shrugging the thought away. What the hell did it matter? Not like I cook. Should I start? Can’t be that hard, can it? Half retarded people have been cooking since the dawn of time. Was it time to find a hobby, maybe? I could start playing pool again. That had kept me fed through most of my early twenties. Sure, it was bar food and frozen pizza, but it was food. Speaking of, what the hell was I going to do about supper?

The bell above the door gave a clanking chime as someone pushed into the room. The blue collars’ conversation stopped. I glanced over my shoulder and stopped, the brief glance softening into a long absorbing look. She was a knockout. Five foot ten and brunette. Her hair fell in waves over her shoulders. Her skirt and jacket combo was dark, wrinkled just enough to make it incredibly sexy, and a spot of engine grease rode the back of her left palm.

She walked like she’d had a long day and stopped at the far end of the bar, helping herself to napkins and the hand sanitizer Jimmy kept near them. When Jimmy approached she smiled tiredly and talked briefly. Flat tire. Needed a ride.

I wanted to say something. I wanted to be witty, or consoling. No woman had made me want to do that in a fair amount of years, but this one was different. This one had class. I searched my mind for something to say, still holding the remnants of my fish sandwich. Suddenly the younger of the blue collars was there. He couldn’t help but overhear. He was headed in that general direction. He’d be only too happy to help. She gave him a smile so warm I almost wanted to cry because it wasn’t in my direction and followed him to his car while the older blue collar finished his sandwich.

Jimmy passed me on his was back toward his paper. The girl must have hit him hard too, because he actually paused as he passed. Had I heard the one about the Gorilla and his pet Jellyfish?

I gave him a half hearted chuckle. Yeah, I’d heard it. My phone buzzed where I’d placed it on the bar earlier. What the hell had I been about to look up? Eh, couldn’t have been important. The notification appeared as soon as the screen came on. There was an app for that. I’d lost the first three races of the day. Dammit.

 

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