With Love, The Bar Staff… – A Short Story from Colombia

“Can I please get an Aguila?” he said this politely, but he knew things were different after last night.  She looked up at him from her phone.  She was damned pretty he thought.  Like so many girls he had known before, her eyes held the truth and most of her beauty.

Of course things would be different now.  They were always different situations in situations like this, and her eyes looked sad and maybe a little angry.  Her beauty could not hide, but the truth he’d seen last night was protected by her absent gaze.

“Here,” she placed the beer on the warped and worn wooden bar in front of him.

Como estas?” he smiled, trying his best to speak her native tongue politely.

Tu es loco!” there it was, the truth and beauty became bright in her eyes now.

“No….” He grinned and said sarcastically.  “Yo todo normal…”  He laughed when he said it because they both knew he wasn’t normal, and maybe she liked crazy guys.  So he asked, with a more serious tone, “Ti gusta loco chicos?”

“No se.” Her eyes flashed away and then she flashed away, spinning on one heel towards the sink behind her.  He had seen it in her eyes though, it was quick, but she’d been thinking about him too.  It made him happy when her eyes softened.

Just then the Australian couple with dreadlocks walked into the bar and sat down on the stool next to him and the .  “Dos Mojitos, poor fave-vor” said the big, tanned Australian guy.

Turning to the man sitting next to him at the bar he said, “Oi mate, how ya going? Ya shoulda seen all these cunts out in the water today.  Mate, I tell ya it was outrageous.  One of the poms that’s staying here, he went and puked right in his mask 5m down and all these fish started coming up and eating it.  Mate, I’m telling ya it was the best shit I’ve seen in a long time.”

“It was rank” his girlfriend added, “the guy said he was eating pizza and drinking rum and coke last night, it was mess!”  She would have been a lot more attractive without the dreadlocks but her face was beautiful and you could tell she knew it.  They both smelled the same, it was a clean smell.

One of the things the man loved about the bar his beer was sitting on, was how it turned into an ongoing organic art piece as the night continued.  The cold glass beer bottles would sweat and water would drip down over the soggy label onto the wooden bar.

It would create circles on the bar that varied in size, depending on how fast you drank your beer.  The circles would be a light grayish color on the dark-stained bar.  If you sat in the same seat and drank enough beers, over time, they would join together and create circular designs which only make sense at the time, and were always gone in the morning.

The man looked up at her making the drinks.  He liked the way the bartender looked from behind.  Thinking back to last night he remembered how soft her skin had been and he wanted to touch it again.  Those legs, the color of cafe’ con leche; her calves ascending toward the back of her thighs and then disappearing into the shadows of her short dress, and her light summer dress which blew flirtatiously in the wind.

She was mulling the mint leaves and lemon syrup and her hair looked pretty, she was freshly showered and wore a tight braid.  He hoped when she turned around things would get better but the Australian turned to the man at the bar and said “Oi mate, we saw you and ol’ miss here having a toss in the hammock last night!  Good on ya, fine piece of tail for a place like this.”

“Andy shut up.” His girlfriend punched his huge shoulder with her tiny hand.  Australians were never conservative when they drink, were they?, the man thought.  The bartender looked pissed off.  “Would you like to pay cash or should I put these on your room?” she asked this as she slammed the drinks down hard, causing one of the mint leaves to fall off the edge of the glass onto the bar.

“Oh you can go ahead and chuck ‘em on the room, and don’t worry sweet-stuff, your secret’s safe with us, I was just taking the piss out of ol’ mate here.”  All the hippies the man at the bar had ever known smelled like patchouli oil and body odor but the two Australians always smelled like the ocean and nature and they never smelled dirty even though they both had dreadlocks.

The bartender didn’t look at any of them, she got red in the face and turned around quickly and busied herself by cleaning up after making the drinks.  Embarrassed and angry and this damn Australian wasn’t helping anybody out, the man at the bar thought, and tried to change the subject by asking for another beer.  “Una mas Aguila?”

Pulling open the door of the fridge, frosty air poured out into the warm Caribbean night.  She grabbed an icy cold, sweating beer, and placed it in the center of the water circles stamped in the bar in front of him.  She did all of this without looking at him but he couldn’t stand it.

Gracias mi amor,” He said smoothly and with a confident voice.

Her eyes flicked up and in an instant her truth and beauty were there.  Her cheeks were flushed when she looked into his eyes.  The thing he never could have known was that she desired him as much, if not more, than he desired her.  That was what made her so angry.  He was just a boy and she had let herself get too drunk.

“Con mucho gusto,” she said with a mix of confidence and humility.  His heart melted and he fell in love with her all over again when she said this.  It reminded him of the bedroom last night and the thankfulness she had expressed in her soft Spanish voice.  He wished he could make her thankful again right now.  She was so distant and he wanted to see her truth and beauty.

Their eyes were still locked, like they had been last night, well before at least.  Before it all went to hell.  It had started when he opened his bedroom door as she walked past it after coming downstairs from the bar.  She looked up at him with a look of yearning and then fell into his arms and without a word they had their first kiss.  Her tongue and her lips were as soft as anything he had ever touched, but there wasn’t time to think about that now.

“How’s about some tequila’s darlin’?” The Aussi guy said, with so much volume and force they both turned to look at him.

“Do you want the good stuff or the shit?” With her Latin accent it sounded so cute even though she was angry.

“Get us the good stuff and throw it on my tab and you two cunts have one with us, will ya?!.”

The bartender shrugged.  The man at the bar looked over at him and then back at the bartender and shrugged as well.

“Ok then,” she said half cheerfully, it was just business and there was no truth or beauty in her eyes when she lined up the four shots and cut the slices of lime.

So that’s what is going on, the man at the bar thought to himself, he had a flash and remembered the prices of the expensive tequila and he thought about how fresh and clean the hippies always were, even with their dreadlocks, and he decided at that moment they weren’t real hippies.  It was all an act, they were fake-hippies.  Fancy Australian fake-hippies.

Salud” the bartender tipped her head to them and then tipped it backward, downing hers before any of them had picked theirs up.

“Here’s to you two lovebirds!” the Aussie guy always seemed to shout when he spoke and he winked at the bartender and raised his glass.

“Andy shut your trap, ya dick!” his girlfriend tried to punch him, but this time he leaned backwards on his stool and her fist swung past his chest and missed him completely.  The force of her punch sent her tumbling off her stool and into his lap and her tequila shot spilled onto both of them.  Unfazed, the Aussie guy raised his shot glass a little higher and looked at the man at the bar and said with a slightly cocked head, “Cheers mate!” they crunched their glasses and a little spilled out of both.

When the man at the bar tilted his head back the last thing he saw was the big grin of the guy with dreadlocks, his wet shirt, his girlfriend trying to climb back up from his lap, and on the other side of the bar was the furious stare of the bartender.  That image of her face confused him, which confused his stomach and in the seconds afterword, he tried to ride the crashing wave of nausea without succumbing to its strength.

“You’re a dick, Andy!” his girlfriend leaned over and shouted from the barstool she had returned to.

“Oh, you love me sweetie, you know it…” His grin had the qualities of both puppy and child which made him seem like one of those guys who would be impossible to get angry at.

“You’re an asshole; he’s an asshole, right?” his girlfriend turned towards the bartender and slumped both elbows down heavily in front of her on the bar.  The bartender wasn’t going to say anything to confirm her accusations, he was an asshole, but she was an asshole too, they were both assholes and it was her own fault she had fallen out of her chair.

“I’m going to bed Andy, why don’t you stay here with the people you LOVE sooooo much.  I’ll be in bed, you’re such a jerk.”

“Oh relax will ya? Don’t get your titties tied.  Sit down, you’re all right.” She was standing now and had been about to walk away but instead moved closer to him.

“Have another drink; you’ll be fine.”  He reached over and touched her when he said this.  Pulling her closer with one hand, he slid a dreadlock behind her ear with his free hand and then leaned forward to kiss her gently on the cheek.

The bartender looked away.  Love was weird she thought, it made you do the weirdest things and she turned her head back and forth slowly.  His girlfriend reached her tiny hand up into his massive pile of matted hair and pulled the fake-hippie guy toward her so she could whisper something in his ear.

“Well kids, that’s it for us!” he shot up straight and quickly finished the last sips of both their drinks.  When he stood up from his stool he was surprisingly bigger than his girlfriend.  He bent down and grabbed her around the waist and straightened his legs to stand up and when he was standing he swung her around and placed her bent over on his right shoulder.

“Old lady told me she wants to watch some porn and get kinky tonight so don’t bother coming to find us for a few hours!” He shouted this back towards them and they didn’t know it at the time but that was the last words either of them ever heard that fake-hippie guy say.

His girlfriend was still shouting as he carried her across the bar and down the stairs, “You’re such an asshole Andy, put me down, I AM NOT having SEX with YOU tonight you pig, and you sure as hell ain’t getting kinky, you can’t say that type of shit, ANDY, put me down….”  But he had already carried her down the stairs and out of the bar and they were gone.

The bartender looked at him, the man at the bar who was really a boy.  Alone with him she had no one else to be angry at.  She stared her icy stare at him, even though she liked him.  She leaned onto the bar and he leaned onto the bar and he smiled even though she didn’t.  Her hardness softened as she stared at him, and into him, and he realized he was close enough to kiss her if he wanted to, so he did.

“Stop it!” She slapped him and recoiled, “Why the hell did you do that?”  When she said this the truth and beauty was there, though now it was a rage of truth and a blaze of beauty and it was all of her.  She splashed the ice out of the cups from the finished mojitos and then walked out from behind the bar towards him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything, I just thought…” His voice trailed off, she looked angry.

“You’re a real asshole” she slapped him hard across the face and it stung.

Tranquilo, princessa.” He stood up over her and grabbed both of her wrists before she could slap him again.  “It’s all good.”  His voice was calm and he pulled down on her wrists and it brought them closer together and then she stood up on her toes and kissed him gently on the lips.

“I really liked last night,” She said this as she was taking a half step backward to look up at him in the innocent way all women do to a man they admire.

“Me too.” He smiled at her and she couldn’t help herself.  Her arms were around his neck just like when he had opened the door last night and before either of them had time to think she kissed him with a real and true kiss and he felt it in his whole body.

He grabbed the small of her back and pulled her towards him kissing her deeply.  They bumped into the bar and then turned and they were still kissing and then they bumped into a stool and it fell over.  She pulled his hair a little to pull him away and said, “No, I can’t, I won’t… You’re just a boy.”

“Why?” Was she crying, he wondered?

“I can’t, OK; I just can’t.”

“OK, OK, relax…OK?” She was crying and he felt awkward.  Woman are the queerest things he thought as she broke away and he saw now that she had big wet tears in her eyes.

“You don’t understand; you’re just a boy; boys never understand.”

“But…” and then there was no one for him to talk to.  She ran across the room after her last statement and he heard her feet hit each of the 12 stairs and the sound of her flip-flops as she ran down the hall and her door opening and shutting quickly.

“Women!” he said to no one and reached down to pick up the barstool they had knocked over.  Afterwards he walked around behind the bar to grab a beer from the fridge.  Digging in his pocket he found the correct change and left it on top of the register for whenever she came back.

He stood in the place where she had stood all night and drank his beer quickly.  In this heat you only had approximately 12 minutes to finish your beer before it got warm and too flat to enjoy.  He opened a new beer and set it on top of his old circles on the bar and stood there waiting for the bartender to return.

Another girl and her friend came up the stairs and into the bar, they were nice girls but they weren’t the type that would understand his condition.  He sold them a beer and put the money on the register and then told them he had to go.  At this point he didn’t have time to explain anything.

Walking past them he went downstairs to find the bartender.  When he got to the bartender’s room she wasn’t there.  She didn’t come back to the hostel that night and he left in the morning for home and they never saw each other again.

2 thoughts on “With Love, The Bar Staff… – A Short Story from Colombia

  1. Pingback: Gobackpacking.com – Book Review for Five Weeks in the Amazon | Sean Michael Hayes

  2. Pingback: Sunday Funday – Siem Reap, Cambodia at the Funky Flashpacker | Sean Michael Hayes

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