On Friday nights in walks Lionel, pompadour in pure white waves. Salesman-quick, he shakes your hand, pats you on the back, and lights your cigarette—or his if you don’t smoke. It makes no difference to him. He’ll tell you he used to be worth $300,000 until the company went under, taking with it his entire retirement. He drinks Manhattans while he waits for the kitchen to put up his wife’s shrimp dinner. Or maybe vodka tonics. One week martinis, just for the hell of it. The regulars call him a sport, and he smiles.
As usual he buys drinks for the bar. They buy back. He downs half a dozen, or maybe just three. The divorced waitress he wants to bang whispers in his ear. Sitting in Styrofoam on the stool next to him, his wife’s shrimp grow cold, tough. He knows how his wife is, the waitress says. Lionel fits his hand in the small of her back.
Yeah, he knows how she is.
He has to clean the house tonight. Laundry tomorrow. Grocery shop on Sunday.