The Bartender (continued from previous post)
When she awoke the next day, disheveled, smelly and still in her work clothes she couldn’t even remember the past night’s events. Or should she say morning’s events since she did not know what time she had stumbled onto her bed, clothed and reeking of alcohol and various old food smells. She sniffed under her arm and could pick up: cilantro, hummus, bean dip, and something smoky and meaty, like short ribs. She started to remember someone had asked her late into the night if she could make them her famous short ribs and she had, using leftover sauces and serving it with a creamy polenta that was on the night’s special menu. It was the last night of her restaurant, the very last night, tomorrow it would be gone, forever.
Was it really the morning, was she really officially closed? Unemployed? ‘Shit,’ she thought, “Yeah,” she grumbled out loud to her black Lab, Lucy, “Fuck.” she said out loud. The television must have been on all night, there was a commercial on to help people stop smoking by chewing some stupid gum. She reached for her pack of cigarettes and lit one not even bothering to listen to the nicotine sponsor ads on television. “Shut-up” she croaked after she inhaled deeply. She threw her clog at the television but didn’t even have the energy to get near, her clog just landed on a pile of dirty laundry on the floor.
She had one arm around Lucy, her dog, a black labrador receiver wearing a red bandana, and as she rubbed her own eyes from the smoke, her hangover and from the lack of sleep. She turned to her faithful animal and said, “Lucy, I’ve worked in a kitchen since I was sixteen, I’m now thirty-six with no job and no restaurant. Is that all there is? There’s gotta be something more because this shit is not gonna fly.” Lucy just looked back at her as old, kind dogs do and licked her face. Dogs are great at unconditional love, of course there was no answer for Lucy to give but she knew that, she knew she would have to make a decision soon….just not now, not yet, she wasn’t ready for any new commitments.
She needed time and space away from everyone she knew in the restaurant business and her family. She tried hard to push people away, because in the past, she had learned, that letting people get too close, was like a personal invitation to heartache and she had had enough of that for a lifetime. She stood up, head in hand, to the shower, muttering and groaning the whole way. She had no idea what she was going to do with her life; she just knew she had to take a step. One step at a time and give herself time to heal.