“Bar Night” by Jackie Branch

Jackie Branch

The restaurant was quite lonely that evening, the collective hum of drunk men and women dying down in volume as the night continued. I was sitting by myself at the bar, doing nothing new and nursing a half-empty glass of whiskey when these two young white guys sit next to me. I saw them walk in with a third person, but he seemed to disappear. I didn’t pay much attention to them as they ordered drinks: a beer, an old fashioned, and surprisingly, a mimosa.

Now, I ́m not one to judge someone on the type of drink they prefer, but when someone orders a mimosa that person is usually female in my mind. Of course, I didn’t say anything out loud, not wanting to look like an asshole. I just watched the bartender make and hand the beverages to the guys. The man closest to me grabbed the beer, while the guy next to him got the old fashioned, leaving the mimosa untouched. Bored with the conversation in my head, I turned to them and said, ¨Looks like you two have great taste, or else I’d tell you to sit somewhere else.¨

The guy next to me flashes a white smile and chuckled. ¨So who are you two? I’m a regular here, and I haven’t seen either of you before,” I ask, trying not to sound creepy or weird.

¨I ́m Hunter, and he´s Derek.¨ The guy beside me responds, nudging the second man, who was too busy looking around the room. ¨We ́re new to this city and decided to spend the second night wasted.¨

I laugh at the joke. “Good call. So, who’s the mimosa for?” I ask, tilting my hand to indicate to the bright orange concoction.

“Oh,” Hunter starts, glancing at the drink. “Said he’ll be here in a minute.”

“Ah,” I nod, and finish off mine. I started getting interested in this ‘friend’, so I kept digging. “So what’s your friend like?”

“He’s kind of a reverse card, to be honest. Stronger and smarter than us, but doesn’t look the part. He was raised in what he calls ‘the ghetto’s back alley,’” Derek replied, Hunter humming an agreement while taking a large swig from his drink. “He’s really nice and funny, though. Doesn’t really like to party. I mean, we had to practically beg him to come here with us.”

“Is he from here?” I ask, my curiosity getting the upper hand in me.

“Yeah, he’s lived here for a year or two. Told us about a neighborhood house going up for sale, and here we are.” Hunter stretches out his arms to indicate the bar, and chugs the last half of his beer.

“Well I can’t wait to meet him,” I say, motioning for the bartender to make another whiskey.

“Looks like you don’t have to. Hey Connor, over here!” Derek calls to someone near the entrance. A broad dark-skinned male approaches us in a plain white T-shirt and a red flannel, black jeans hanging pretty low on him. He says “hey” in a deep voice that takes me back. Hunter sees my flinch and nudges me.

“I told ya, he’s a reverse card.”