“Babe! Another beer!” he yelled to the bartender.
Barb watched him shovel roast beef into his mouth. She hesitated to interrupt him, but asked, “You live near here?”
Gravy dripped from his dark bushy mustache. “Oh yeah, this is my regular hang out. I just walk out that door and stumble up to my apartment.”
“Oh, so really close.”
“That’s what I just said. I live upstairs.” He shook his head and pointed up.
“Above the pub?”
The couple sat at a black melamine bar in McFeisty’s Pub and Grill. The room was darkly lit to mimic candlelight, and Kiss sang on the jukebox about being made for loving someone. The place had a few tables scattered behind them, with fewer patrons scattered amongst them. The bartender, and lone waitress, scurried along in her jeans, black tee shirt and Toronto Blue Jay baseball cap.
He snickered. “It is great cause I get free live music in between periods of the Maple Leaf games on Saturday night.” His round face almost looked rubbery as he chewed something.
She picked at her salad to check if anything was moving. “How long have you lived here?”
He shrugged. “Well, mom got the place forty years ago, I think.”
“Nice, so your got it from your mother?”
“She lets me stay cheap so long as I do a few chores.”
The bartender, apparently listening, snorted in laughter as she placed a new beer in front of him.
“Chores are good,” she said trying to hide her disgust. She put down her fork and brushed her blonde hair over her ears.
Kiss finished and AC/DC took over the jukebox asking ‘Who Made Who?’ One man shuffled a dance in front of it to the song he had chosen.
“And where abouts do you live?” he asked mid shovel of a squashed mixture of potato, peas and carrots smothered in gravy.
“Ajax. It took me almost an hour to get here.”
“That’s not bad,” he pointed out through his full mouth. “Mom said I can take the car sometime if I want to go out your way.”
Barb shuddered. “Really?”
“Yeah. She said I should ask you to help pay for gas if I do. Oh, and I should get my license back next week.”
Barb’s mouth opened and no words came out.
His tight curly black hair bobbed as he chewed loudly. His very large tee shirt featured the Def Leppard logo on black with white sleeves. A white napkin was stuffed into the front of his collar as a pretend bib.
Barb glanced down at her own purple blouse and slacks. “Ah, Tim? What is it you do for a living?”
He glanced at his watch as he picked up his bun and mopped up more gravy. “I’m a student.”
She blinked. “Studying what?”
He pulled the bun to his lips and slurped before taking a bite. A small wet crumb flew across and landed on Barb’s plate as he answered, “I haven’t decided yet. I’m thinking I would like to get my boiler papers maybe, but I also like to write some racy stuff that I think I should get published. I emailed you some of that.”
Is this the same man? she wondered. “Yes, you did. I enjoyed it.”
“I sent that one to Penthouse, but they rejected it.”
A small comforting smile touched her lips. “So try again.”
“Nah. Their last rejection letter asked me to stop sending them stories.”
It took all of Barb’s concentration to refrain from her right hand slapping her forehead. Instead she just imagined the word “facepalm” in her mind’s eye.
“You gonna eat that?”
She looked at her plate that was, allegedly, full of a chicken Caesar salad. It certainly smelt like a Caesar, but she was convinced the chicken breast was more likely rat. “No, I’m good.” She took a sip of her beer as she watched him reach across and pluck the rat from her plate.
Without cutting it, he lifted it straight to his mouth and bit the end off. He then sat, elbow on the table with the rat meat on the end of his fork in anticipation of a spasm requiring another bite.
“You should come upstairs and meet mom.” He chuckled and his large belly caused the table to pulsate.
Barb glanced at the bottles behind the bar as she said, “I don’t think they have enough beer…”
“Oh, you want another?” He snapped his fingers at the bartender. Catching her attention he pointed down at her drink and held up one finger. Pointing at his own, he then held up three.
“No, actually.” She lifted the napkin off her lap and dabbed at the corners of her mouth. After a moment of wondering why she bothered to do that, she continued, “I have to get going.”
“Ah, fuck. No dessert?”
She stood quickly and shook her head. “No thanks.”
The bartender brought the four refills over. Seeing that Barb was getting up, she left them all in front of Tim.
“Babe!” Tim called to the bartender again, even though she was right there. “She needs the bill.”
Barb’s mouth fell open as she slipped on her jacket. She then waited watching the bartender tap on the computer screen and bring over the print out.
Looking at the bill, Barb blinked her blue eyes. “What the hell is this?”
The bartender, a young brunette was still having trouble keeping a straight face. “Twelve beers, a roast beef dinner and chicken cae…”
Tim tried to calm her. “I was a little early and had a couple while I was waiting.”
“A couple?” She did some quick math in her head. “You mean six.”
Tim smiled and a piece of rat was stuck between his two front teeth.
“No fucking way! I’ll pay for mine, but not…” She mumbled something as she reached into her purse and slapped thirty dollars down on the bar.
Tim thought he saw smoke as Barb sprinted from the bar and out into the darkness. He looked at the bartender who finally broke into a belly laugh.
Soon most of the patrons were all chortling as well.
Tim stood and raised his hands in victory before turning and bowing to the others. He then reached up to his mustache and began to peel it off his lips. It was followed by two chunks of mud that had enhanced his cheeks. The tight black curls came off as a wig to show his brown buzz cut. Finally, he untucked his drop cloth shirt and pulled a pillow out from under it.
His face, now much thinner, smiled at the bartender. “She lasted longer than I figured.”
Still chuckling and holding her stomach, the bartender nodded.
“And you, little miss, didn’t think I could pull it off.”
One of the other patrons piped up. “Did any of us, Gray?”
Tim, now hearing his real name, spun and grinned. “I can always count on your support, Moe.” Without the makeup, people said he looked like a young Dennis Quaid. Turning back to the bartender he asked, “So Crystal, how much did I win?”