Taking It In The Ear

2 09 2010

Taking It In The Ear

Mary Newton hated being bored. She sat at the bar of the Canadiana and stared into her drink. The ice cube wasn’t melting. It was bored. She looked around the bar to see if there was anyone interesting. Three men sat at one table. They were rifling food into their mouths like starving refugees. And arguing at the same time. Mary couldn’t understand their language. One time Mary had started a course in French. She thought it would be interesting. That it was her duty as a Canadian to learn the other official language. She quit after two classes. But she knew enough French to realize that these men weren’t Quebecois. She looked away. At another table two young men sat. Silently. Like catatonic patients. Watching golf on the television. Beautifully cultured and groomed grass. Growing. Mary felt like screaming. In the corner an older couple sharing a lunch, laughing, reaching out occasionally to touch each other’s hands. Love. Could anything be more boring? The bartender came up and asked if Mary wanted a refill.

“Why not?” she responded. “Hey Charlie.”

“Yes, Mary.”

“If I’m still here a couple of years from now, take a gun out and shoot me.”

The bartender nodded. Mary considered engaging in conversation with the bartender but she noticed the look in his eyes. That look of resignation. Boredom. Like a tiger in a zoo. She turned and looked out the broad front window of the restaurant onto the parking lot. Cars came in and out of the lot. Some stayed in the lots for hours.

Mary whispered into her drink. “Throw me in a wheel barrel and roll me down to the dump.”

Louie, who ran the dollar store, stepped into the bar. A small man with large dangling ears and thin brown hair slicked down and combed straight back, Louie was a man of confidence. Nothing was beyond him. Everything was possible. And his smile, which never seem to leave him, advertised his optimism. He stepped up to the bar and said something to, Charlie, the bartender. Slapped him on the shoulder. Both men laughed. Louie’s eyebrows flirted with the air as he gestured across the way to Mary whose back was turned to him and said something to Charlie. Charlie shrugged. Louie turned his good ear to Charlie and said something. Charlie was deaf in one of his ears, the result of being a roadie on too many rock’n’roll band tours. A moment later Louie was by Mary’s side. He asked if he could sit beside her.

“It’s a free country,” Mary responded, glancing at Louie out of the side of her eyes. Louie was careful to sit with his good ear toward Mary.

The bartender returned with her drink.

“Thanks, Charlie,” she said.

“Compliments of this gentleman.” The bartender gestured toward Louie and slipped away.

Mary looked at Louie and nodded. She lifted her drink and took a swallow before Louie had an opportunity to say cheers. Louie raised his glass of beer and took a swallow.

“You run the dollar store,” Mary said.

“Yes. That’s right,” Louie said as he took another sip of his beer.

“Well, isn’t that an exciting career choice.” Mary smirked.

“Ah.” Louie laughed. “It’s a living. Pays the rent. And you meet a lot of interesting people. You’d be surprised how open people are with you when they figure they’re getting a deal. Just gives them a natural high.”

“I’m sure.” Mary looked around the bar.

“What do you do for a living?” Louie asked.

Mary turned back to Louie and laughed.

“Excuse me?”

Louie repeated his question. Mary took another swallow of her drink.

“I’m furniture,” she said.

“Furniture?” Louie enquired.

“My husband is wealthy.”

“Oh,” Louie smiled uncomfortably.

Mary licked her lips. “Where do you think this is all leading?”

“Excuse me?”

“All this chatter,” Mary said. “Where do you think it’s going to get you?”

Louie shrugged innocently.

“Just talking to a beautiful woman on a lovely day,” Louie said. “Isn’t that enough?”

Mary smiled and sipped her drink.

“Shall I leave?” Louie asked.

Mary thought for a moment. “What’s your favourite pick-up line?”

Louie took another swallow of beer.

“Pick-up line?” he asked.

Mary laughed. “Come on. Tell me.”

Louie thought for a moment then smiled.

“Lovely weather we’re having recently, don’t you think?”

Mary looked at Louie and shook her hair.

“Is that it?”

Louie nodded. “Ya. That’s about it.”

“Does it work?”

“It gives me some time,” Louie responded. “To get better acquainted with the beautiful woman. To let her know that I am harmless. That I see her as lovely. Like the weather.”

“Use it on me,” Mary insisted.

“What would be the point?” Louie asked.

Mary reached out and padded Louie on the hand.

Louie smiled.

“Lovely weather we’re having recently, don’t you think?”

Mary looked at Louie and shook her hair.

“As opposed to what?”

“It could be snowing.” Louie laughed.

Mary pointed at Louie. She smiled.

“That was cute.” Then she added, “And you are cute.”

Louie nodded. “Yes I am. And thanks for noticing.”

There was a pause. Once again Mary’s thoughts wandered. She looked around the bar hoping that something interesting was taking place.

“I am so bored.” Mary sighed. “If things don’t pick up around here, I may go home and blow my brains out. Or go shopping.”

“It’s not so boring,” Louie said.

Mary reached out and grabbed Louie’s hand.

“Tell me what’s so worth while in life?”

Louie blushed. For a moment he stammered as he tried to speak.

Mary laughed. “You see, life is a drag. All you can hope for is the odd diversion.”

“There’s romance,” Louie suggested.

“Romance?” Mary took another swallow of her drink. “Starts off all fireworks and laughter. Ends up with emptiness and rough words.”

“You have been hurt by love,” Louie suggested.

Mary laughed.

“Oh, I’ve been hurt. And I’ve done my share of hurting. And now I have this lovely relationship with my husband. He pays for all my vices and all I have to do is look like expensive furniture. He sends me on holidays by myself. And I sit around pools in exotic countries soaking up the sun. Then go shopping in the evenings and buy expensive knick knacks. My husband stays home and cheats on me. Not with other women. I could compete with them. But with money.”

“That is sad,” Louie responded, his smile escaping from his mouth. “Why don’t you leave him?”

Mary turned to Louie and patted his hand. “The furniture does not walk out of the house.”

Louie shook his head.

“A beautiful woman like yourself should not be sad. It is against the laws… of nature.”

Mary laughed.

“That’s quite a line. Does it ever work?”

Louie looked at Mary and shook his head sadly.

“Not often.”

Mary slapped Louie’s hand.

“You are cute.”

“Why don’t you do something with your free time?” asked Louie. “Surely you must have interests.”

Mary shook her head.

“Nope. Any suggestions?”

“Well,” Louie thought for a moment, “they’re always looking for volunteers down at the Seniors’ home.”

Mary pointed at herself. “Me? Keep some old farts amused all day? I don’t even like to think what’s it like to get old.”

“What about kids?”

Mary shook her head. “I have one. My husband doesn’t want any more. I’ve been fixed. I think that’s the word for it.”

“No,” Louie responded, “I mean why not help kids down at the hospital.”

Mary sipped her drink and put it down.

“Maybe I didn’t make myself clear,” she said. “I don’t like kids.”

Louie took a sip of his beer and shook his head.

“Don’t give up.” Mary laughed.

Louie laughed. “Well, you’re a hard nut to crack. You have no interests. It doesn’t appear that you want to reach out to the wider community…”

“That’s good. Wider community.” Mary finished her drink.

“Another?” Louie asked.

“Why not?”

Louie waved to the bartender.

“Why haven’t you asked me about my hobbies?” she asked.

‘Okay,” Louie said. “What are your hobbies?”

“Don’t have any.” Mary giggled.

The bartender returned with her drink.

Louie shook his head.

“What are you really good at?” Louie asked.

Mary smiled and leaned over to whisper in Louie’s ear.

“Blow jobs,” she said.

Louie had a stupid smile on his face.

“You’re blushing,” Mary said. “That’s cute.”

“Perhaps you…” Louie began.

“How tall are you?” Mary asked.

“Oh… five feet five,” Louie responded.

“But you’ve got such large hands,” Mary said as she reached over and stroked Louie’s hand with her wedding finger. “And such soft skin for a man.”

“Is that a problem?” Louie asked.

Mary shook her head. She glanced around the bar to make sure that no one was watching them. When she finished her drink and climbed to her feet, she turned and whispered in Louie’s ear. His bad ear.

“When I get outside, follow me,” she said and left.

Louie smiled. Shook his head. And ordered another beer.