The bar was dim when Matt walked into it. When he turned his head to survey the bar, he couldn’t see the faces of the people sitting there. He liked that. That meant they couldn’t see him either. It always felt like it was the evening, no matter what time of the day it was. Even when it was a bright afternoon, it always felt like the late evening when Matt came into the bar. When Matt sat down, there was a beer placed in front of him.
“You’re early,” said the bartender.
“No work today,” Matt replied.
“Why’s it matter?”
The bartender lingered for a few moments, used to Matt’s unpleasant attitude. He moved away and left Matt alone. Matt didn’t mention that there would no longer be days where he went to work.
Matt gulped his beer thirstily. It felt cool going down his throat and he drank it happily. As soon as he put his empty glass down, the bartender was in front of him again, refilling his glass. Before Matt could finish his second glass, someone sat next to him. He turned his head to see a woman sitting there. She was close enough to see. She smiled pleasantly.
He sat up. “Evening,” he said.
“It’s only three-thirty,” the woman said. Her eyes moved toward his glass and he mechanically gulped his beer. Again, the bartender was there—jerking the tap hurriedly before giving Matt his glass back and moving away again. He hadn’t bothered asking the woman if she wanted anything.
“Do you want anything?” Matt asked leaning over the bar to try and wave over the bartender. “It’s on me.”
“No, thank you,” said the woman. “I’m content sitting here and watching you.”
Matt raised his eyebrows at her, surprised the woman was being so forward. His cheeks were warm and he hoped that they weren’t red. The woman smiled again at him and leaned closer to him. Matt couldn’t help but lower his gaze to eye her body. When he raised his eyes, she looked at him knowingly.
“What’s your name?” he asked her.
“Ginger,” the woman said, leaving her full lips pursed. “But everyone calls me Gin.”
Matt gave a small laugh and the woman licked her lips, propping her head up with her hand. Matt found her incredibly attractive. He had forgotten about his beer.
“Have some more,” Ginger said.
Matt picked up his glass and raised it to his mouth. Ginger put her fingers on the bottom of the glass, making Matt finish the whole thing.
“Have another,” she said, but the bartender was already filling up his glass.
They did this a few more times, but never once did the bartender ask Ginger if she had wanted something to drink. After a while, Matt stopped wondering about that. He did wonder as to why Ginger was so eager to watch him drink and why he was so eager to drink for her. As Ginger pulled her hand away from Matt’s glass—he had lost count of which beer it was—he noticed the time on her watch.
“Is that the time?” he asked daftly.
“That’s what it says.”
It was seven-thirty. He didn’t feel like four hours passed.
When the bartender came, Matt pulled the glass away from him.
“You don’t want another?” Ginger asked.
“I really shouldn’t…” he trailed off. “Not right now.”
The bartender simply shrugged and turned away. Ginger frowned.
“Have I done something wrong?” she asked.
Matt shook his head. He was starting to feel drowsy. He knew if he spoke it would only turn into incoherent babble. He had to use the restroom but knew he’d stumble and fall if he tried to stand up. Ginger put her hand on his back and Matt rested his head on his arms. Everything was so dim around him, adding to the drowsiness he was feeling.
He closed his eyes, and suddenly, Matt was lifting his head and blinking at the bartender.
“I’m closing,” he said. “You want another beer before I leave?”
The bar was empty. Only Ginger was left sitting next to him. She nodded.
“Yes,” said Matt.
“Alright.” The bartender took Matt’s glass and filled it again. “I’ll leave the keys for you to close. Leave them under the mat. You know.”
Matt reached into his pocket and handed the bartender his wallet. The bartender fished out Matt’s card, paid his tab and left Ginger and Matt alone.
“Not the first time he’s done that,” Ginger said.
“No,” replied Matt, not wondering how Ginger knew. “It’s not.”
Ginger moved towards Matt’s glass. He didn’t move.
“Why ask for another if you’re not going to drink it?,” she asked, her tone biting. Matt turned to look at her and saw the smile she had been wearing all night was now gone and had become a scowl.
“I have a hard time saying no,” he said uneasily.
“Drink it,” Ginger demanded.
“I don’t want to.”
“It’ll make your head feel better.”
“Only for a bit,” Matt said.
“It’ll make your stomach feel better.”
“Only for a bit,” Matt said again.
Matt stared at the glass. He glanced at Ginger and saw she was still wearing a scowl. The two moved their gaze back to the glass. Matt took it in his hand and drank it without Ginger’s help.
“Good,” she said smiling again. “Have another.”
“There isn’t another,” Matt hiccuped. “Bar’s closed.”
“It’ll make you feel better,” said Ginger. “Get yourself another.”
Matt stumbled about doing as Ginger said.
“I don’t want it,” he said back in his seat.
Instead of frowning or scowling, Ginger kept her smile. She said, “Kiss me.”
Matt leaned in to kiss her. She put a hand in front of his mouth and nodded at the glass.
“Drink that first.”
He belched. “I shouldn’t.”
“You should. It’ll make you feel better.”
Matt gulped from the glass. Again, Ginger said, “Kiss me.”
Like beer pouring from its bottle, Matt leaned over to press his lips to Ginger’s. Never meeting a woman’s lips, Matt fell onto the empty chair next to him and then fell onto his back on the floor.