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Bar Stools


(c) Linda Hutchison March 2017

He strode down the darkened streets, oblivious to the passing traffic, neon lights and puddles. The wind grabbed at his coat and tugged at his trousers, but he felt nothing. His mind was a whirl. What had he done? He searched the outer reaches of his memory and couldn’t find a thing.
“It’s just me,” her text message read. “I have to go and find myself.”
Arrgh! The number of times he’d heard that. What was it about him that stirred that reaction in the women he dated. Six months in, a year, and boom, they were gone. He’d stopped using their names because it just got too awkward. “Babe, darling, sweetheart,” is all he ever used now. BDS women he called them. The greeting was universally applicable, no matter what state of drunkenness or consciousness he was in. BDS. “Babe, darling, sweetheart.” No more names. Names ended up like faded tattoos in his mind and it was full to bursting. Better to stick to the generic. BDS. He turned into his favourite bar, ironically called “Babe’s Place”. Tonight all he looked forward to was a drink. A very deep drink. A very deep, single malt whisky. No ice. She would be his companion for the night. Bold, deep, satisfying. BDS.
He strolled up to his favourite seat at the bar, fortunately unoccupied. Steve was serving the bar, so he wouldn’t even need to speak. He nodded at Steve, and Steve reached for the top shelf. Something peaty and smoky landed in front of him. He nodded again his appreciation, and placed the glass under his nose, slowly inhaling the scent of salty air, kelp and heaven-kissed malt. He sighed, almost contentedly, then took a sip, letting the amber liquid play slowly down his tongue into his throat. The alcohol seared initially, then settled to a warm glow. He sighed again and settled back against his seat and looked around the bar. As usual, there were lots of BDS women in tonight – beddable, drunk and single. But he wasn’t in the mood. No more BDS he thought. Not now, not ever. This time he wanted to wait for someone who had already found themselves and who wasn’t set on long-term personal development. Someone relaxed and real, warm and nameable. Beautiful, dark and sexy, or basically darn suitable. He didn’t mind what they looked like as long as they were stable!
He took another long sip of his whisky and looked around the bar again. He did a double-take. Who was that in the corner? It couldn’t be! It was. It was her. He looked again through the dim light and haze of noise. Was he imagining it? Could it really be ‘his’ Bianca? It had been 30 years, but surely that was her – cute button nose, freckles, short blonde hair, and clear blue-green eyes – probably even more beautiful for the maturity. Surely his eyes weren’t playing tricks. He slowly rose from his chair and walked over.
“It’s you.” he said, somewhat lamely.
She looked at him a bit blankly to start with, then replied, “And it’s yourself.”
“Yes” He sat down without taking his eyes off her. “How have you been?”
“Great,” she said. “And you?”
“Oh, great. Thanks.” He kept staring until she shifted uncomfortably, then he looked around the bar. “Do you come here often?” knowing that the answer was “No”, because he was here all the time and hadn’t seen her.
“No – I’m just visiting for the weekend. Catching up with some friends.” A flicker of puzzled recognition played around her face as she tried to remember who he was. He did look familiar in some way.
“No worries. It’s great to see you again. Are you married?” He was speaking without really thinking about what he was saying. Definitely not a BDS, he was thinking. Finally a real person.
“No – I’m still single. My last long relationship fell through when he moved overseas. And you?”
“I’m free,” he replied, then nearly kicked himself under the table for sounding so needy. “Perhaps I can take you out for dinner sometime.”
“I’ll let you know when I have some time,” she said, still racking her brain for his name. “I’d better go,” she said, rising from the table. She held out her hand and shook his. “Nice to catch up.”
“Yeah, great.” He watched her walk towards the door, his mind flooding with long surrendered memories of the holiday on the beach with Bianca at his side. Definitely not a BDS.
“Dee!” called a voice across the room. “Oh hi Sandra!” called his Bianca, who clearly wasn’t.
You have got to be kidding, he thought to himself. Bloody dumb and stupid. It hadn’t been her at all – just a cute stranger who reminded him of Bianca. His head dropped.
Dee walked out with her friend.
“Who was that guy?” asked Sandra, with a curious grin.
“I have no idea – I thought it was someone from my past, but I just can’t remember his name, and I’m not sure that I know him.”
“Well, Bianca Deidre Smith, perhaps you should come here again sometime, just in case.”

Reacquainted: Work
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