The Blue Lagoon (Chapter 19, Lou Grant)

23 08 2009

19.

The Blue Lagoon

Smell is the key to reality. Stale beer, cigarette smoke, urine, popcorn, vagina farts. I turned from the bar and spotted Mary (my Mary) sitting with the crew at a table.  I could smell the roses in her hair.

“What’ll it be?” the bartender asked.

I looked up.

“Is your name, Bud?” I asked. Frank smiled like every bartender I’ve ever known, not impatiently or angrily but with resignation. Like the grim reaper. He knows it’s a one-way street. And he ain’t going nowhere.

“Strange question, Mike.”

“Mike. How do you know my name is Mike?” I asked.

Frank sighed.

“Going to be one of those nights, eh? What’ll you have? The usual?”

I nodded. So I’m Mike. Who the hell is Mike?

“You’re in a strange mood, Mike,” Frank said. Frank talked like he knew me. Like he’d known me for some time. Like I was a regular. And yet I couldn’t remember being in the Blue Lagoon before. Couldn’t tell you where it was situated.

Frank continued. “Sitting there now for hours, your thoughts a million miles away. Soaking up the beer. You seem to have taken quite an interest in the people at the table over there. Staff of WJM. Look out of place in a joint like this, don’t you think? Slumming. You meet all kinds. Lousy tippers. Wish Bud was in tonight. Took a few days off; left me holding the fort. Running my ass off. Better take their drinks over. Talk to you later.”

Frank picked up a tray of drinks and made his way over to her table. I saw Mary smile at him. She glanced my way. And looked at me strangely. Like she should know me. But didn’t.


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