Sunday Storytelling is where I post a piece of fiction Sunday. It might be a complete short story, a snippet of a work in progress, a character sketch, a response to one of the thousands of creative writing prompts I’ve collected through the years. Most of them won’t be polished or “final,” so feedback and criticism is welcome, but please be constructive in your comments. Read other Sunday Storytelling pieces here.
James liked it when Charlie played at the bar. His repertoire of acoustic guitar songs wasn’t the largest, or the most current – in fact, he rarely played a song from after 1978 or so. He didn’t take requests or interact with the customers. Charlie played what Charlie wanted to play, and what Charlie often wanted to play was something folksy and bluesy. James thought it was the stuff that fit the bar – an unremarkable dive bar just close enough to the hotels to get a decent stream of tourists, but not so close that locals avoided it. James’ father would have called Charlie’s voice “whiskey-soaked,” and James would have agreed.
James’ father also wouldn’t have been pleased that his almost 35-year-old son was a bartender at an unremarkable dive bar, but luckily for James, his father wasn’t around to voice that opinion.
A girl entered and settled on a stool near the end of the bar. It was Friday, but it was still early, and James’ only other customers were two men, medical residents who had just come off 18-hour shifts. One had ordered a gin and tonic, one an old-fashioned, but neither had drank much. They sat together in either a companionable silence or a sleep-walking stupor.
The girl’s gaze slowly traveled across the liquor bottles behind James, but she didn’t make much of an effort to catch his eye or get his attention. He liked that. It meant the girl was comfortable in this sort of bar, that she trusted the bartender knew how to do his job.
She asked for a double whiskey on the rocks, and when he asked what kind, she said, “Something that burns.” Her voice was low, flat. She made eye contact with him for only the briefest of seconds, then looked towards the back of the bar.
James retrieved a bottle of some mid-level whiskey and prepared the girl’s drink. After placing it in front of her and taking the twenty she had laid down, he moved down to the other end of the bar, closer to the residents. He got the feeling that she wasn’t interested in pouring out her soul to the bartender. Not yet, at least.
In the corner, Charlie started strumming “Georgia On My Mind.”
Comments, feedback, and constructive criticism welcome…