March 16, 2018 § 1 Comment
He’d come in every night around 6:30, stay for the space of two drinks and maybe a burger. Middle-aged, not a snappy dresser but no slob, either. He knew the owners well enough that they said hi to him, but not enough for special treatment; no free drinks or anything like that.
Always grabbed the same bar stool, if it was open – sixth from the end, by the bend.
Had a name I should remember, but so vanilla it never stuck. Eric, I think, or Allen. I don’t know, I’d only been working there a couple weeks. To me, he was just Bar 6, because that’s how we entered orders in the register.
I called him “boss” to his face, just like everyone else. It’s easier than remembering names.
He wasn’t much for conversation. Some folks want to spill out their problems or chat about the music that’s playing or whatever sport is on the TV behind the bar. Bar 6 would talk to other patrons if they started it, but otherwise would just hunch over his drink until it was gone.
Bar 6 liked his bourbon. Usually neat, unless it was Jack Daniel’s, and then he’d want a rocks pour. I think the longest conversation he had with me was the night we added a couple new bourbons to the shelf, and even that only lasted a minute or two.
Every once in a while, I’d catch his eyes following a woman’s ass as she strolled past. He never made it creepy, though; he’d look, and then he’d turn his attention back to his drink. When the girls served him, he looked them in the eye and thanked them. I never saw him hit on anyone, touch anyone, nothing.
Come to think on it, I never saw him come in with anyone. He was always on his own, but never gave off that hook-up vibe. He came, he drank, he left. Veni, vino, vamoose.
Darrell? I think his name might have been Darrell. Damn, it bugs me I can’t recall.
Anyway, what I’m saying is, he was just this guy, you know? I never expected him to do what he did. Jesus.
The guy noticed things, though. One day, Shae – she was one of the owners, her and her husband Jack – she came in with a stack of boxed pies from the bakery down the street. We featured their stuff as specialty desserts, sometimes. She’d walked up to get them and came back in through the front door. Couldn’t see over the stack of boxes, and the place was a little crowded, so she had her head cocked to the left to see where she was going. Didn’t see the guy to the right push back from the bar, and he didn’t see her. Would have bumped into her and spilled all the pies, but Bar 6 put a hand on the dude’s back and stopped him.
“Pies,” he said, when the guy looked at him. Shae had passed by, but the guy saw her and got it.
“Jesus, thanks, man,” he replied.
Bar 6 didn’t say anything. Just sort of gestured at the guy with his bourbon, like “ain’t nothin’.”
My last night there, he came in a little earlier than usual. I remember because Jack told me switch to the baseball game at 7:00, and I looked at my phone to check the time. Bar 6 took his usual seat at just past a quarter after six, ignoring the couple next to him holding hands and kissing. He had on a short-sleeved, button-down shirt and khakis, both of which needed an iron. Like I said, he wasn’t a fashion plate.
Straining the shirt pocket was a battered notebook and a chrome pen so worn you could see the brass underneath in spots. I saw him with it often, never asked him about it.
Anyway. We ended up with a good crowd that night because of the ballgame, and Bar 6 – Evan! That was his name – he got jostled a couple of times. No big deal, just people having a good time and not paying attention to who was around them. I think it annoyed him, though, because he asked for his check after only one drink, a double of Woodford Reserve.
I was pouring a ski shot for six dudes who were running up an impressive bar tab, happy that their team was ahead in the fourth inning. Nothing to celebrate, but these guys were pounding them. I nodded to Bar 6, to Evan.
“Get you in a second, boss.” He gave me a thumbs up and I went back to pouring.
I thought someone had slammed a glass down on the bar and was about to tell them to take it easy, but people started screaming. Smelled that firecracker smell, but still didn’t put it together. Evan had his back to the bar, facing some woman with a stack of blonde hair and runny mascara. Her eyes went wide as he slowly tilted right and fell off the bar stool.
The heavy slap as he hit the ground, I heard it over the screams. I felt it through the floor.
The pistol in her hand looked like a toy, tiny and hot pink. More people started screaming and pushing for the door, but I froze and she froze and we just stood there for what seemed like forever. And then she put the gun under her chin and killed herself.
The couple at the bar making out, the guy was her husband. She came in with some coworkers for an impromptu happy hour, I guess caught the two of them kissing, and lost it. Everyone says Bar 6 – shit, Evan – saw her point the gun at them and leaned in front of it right as she fired.
It was a .22 she kept in her purse for self-defense, and she shot him in the shoulder. Should have been nothing. They said later that it got into his chest and bounced off a couple ribs, tore up a lung and clipped his heart on the way out. They found the bullet lodged in the back of his little notebook, if you can believe that.
Anyway, I haven’t been back to the place since that night, even when Shae and Jack begged me to come back. I wasn’t the only one that wouldn’t; the other servers on duty that night quit, too. It’s been, what, a couple years? I still don’t even like driving by the place. Go a few blocks out of my way just to avoid it.
Evan, man. Bar 6. If I’d just been a little faster with his tab – I dunno. Who leans in front of a gun?