Old Dave, 1/4

“Oh, you think that’s gonna be enough for you?” Old Dave said loudly, his tongue thick and slurring with bourbon. “A wife and two kids, an above ground pool.” He snorted. “If you’re lucky.

He leaned across the scratched mahogany bar, maybe the only thing in the room older that him, and waved two gnarled fingers in the air. The bartender, a young, immaculate-looking gay man, looked past Old Dave and eyed me. I gave a helpless shrug, a pinch of the lips, an apologetic face that nonetheless accepted no blame. He’s not with me.

And he wasn’t with me, but as the swirling amber honey he had ordered was set down in front of us, I settled back in my seat. 

“I’m Old Dave, by the way,” he told me again, gesturing to himself with one hand and reaching blindly, instinctively for his glass with the other.

“Martin,” I told him for the third time, and patiently. He extended a sweaty, soft hand and I shook it. 

He stared into thin air for a second, the crust in the corners of his eyes trembling as he blinked and twitched his bushy gray eyebrows. Then he glanced at my left hand, where my wedding band gleamed. 

“Ahh,” he said, smacking his lips. “You’re married.”

“Yes, sir,” I said. “Happily.”

“Oh yeah?” He leaned back away from me on his elbow, raising both wiry eyebrows with incredulity. Then he snorted again and shook his head. The conversation between us had been flitting around like this, circling in the little eddies and pools of Old Dave’s tired brain. 

“I was married once,” he said, his voice suddenly weary and clear. 

 

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