Monday, 11 February 2019

February Evenings

by Roger Noons


 Magno Spanish brandy



The sun had warmed the land before it sank behind the mountain, but now there was chill in the air. I was grateful for the warmth of Sandy’s Bar, welcomed by Dave. Leonard Cohen growling in the background.
     The barman always had a faint smile, whatever the time, irrespective of the weather. ‘Usual?’ he said.
    ‘No, I’ll have large black, one sugar, please.’
    ‘No Magno, I’m afraid.’
    ‘Fundador will do, or Veterano,’ I told him. ‘Still quiet?’ 
    ‘How I like it.’ After serving me, he selected a goblet from the counter. Holding it gently by its stem, he began to polish.
    A man of few words, Dave, which meant you had to graft for a conversation. Two minutes later he changed the CD. Still Cohen, with remixed tracks. I was content to listen, sip my cognac and slurp my Nescafé.
    The door opened, cold air flew along the counter. I shivered.
    ‘Hola.’ A woman’s voice behind me. ‘Has he been in?’
    As I stared at her reflection above the bottles, Dave shook his head. Her lips formed a silent expletive. I took another sip.
    ‘Barry’s opened Grumpy’s tonight. You might try there.’
    ‘Thanks,’ she muttered and the door was opened again. Another blast of Santa Eulalia’s ozone flooded the room.    
    After Dave set the refilled glass on the counter alongside my right hand, he explained. ‘Two nights a week she locks Jock in their casa, goes off to play bridge. If he can’t find any booze, he breaks glass and climbs out through a door or window. She gets home and finding him missing, tours the town.’
    I shook my head.
    ‘She’ll settle his bar bill, load him up and take him home.’
    ‘What about other nights?’
    ‘When she’s there she serves his drinks, knows how much he’s had, puts him to bed at ten.’
    I shrugged.
    ‘Barry used to clean for them, might still do.’
    ‘Barry?’
    ‘A retired hoofer. Gets by tending bar and cleaning house.’
    ‘Does he wear a pinny?’ I grinned.
    ‘Not when he’s behind the bar.’ Dave didn’t smile. ‘Jock’s like a lot of them here. They work all hours God sends in the UK, get to sixty and retire. Move to Ibiza with no hobbies, no friends and having drunk little all their life, spend their waking hours catching up. Livers give out in three to four years.’
    I shook my head and emptied my glass.
    ‘Another?’
    ‘No thanks, not after what you’ve just said. I’ll perhaps see you tomorrow.’
    As the door closed behind me, I heard the volume of the music increase.

About the author


Roger is a regular contributor to  CaféLit and The Best of volumes.

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