October 28, 2014, Tuesday
“How’d I get this cash?” Dennis asked while pulling bills out of his wallet. He smelled the stale alcohol and cigarettes from the recesses of his throat.
“You won some bets against all them Cowboys fans,” Brandon said.
Dennis rolled down the windows and felt the wind on his face. His skin was dry and his eyes even dryer from falling asleep without removing his contacts.
“You sure you don’t have time to get lunch?” Dennis asked even though he was in no mood to eat. The car dipped under some railroad tracks, and the fluids rolled inside his stomach.
“Just get me back later. I have to be at work at noon. Besides, I don’t think you want to be out in public smelling like you do.”
McNally’s was so empty George left to run errands and left Brandon by himself with Hector. Even then, Hector spent his time organizing the walk-in fridge. The only customers were three older gentleman sitting at corner of the bar. They never ordered food and drank only Jack Daniel’s and Coors Original, and they were having the same conversation they’ve had for the last fifteen years.
“It’s near the end of the month,” one of them explained to Brandon about the lack of customers.
“I believe it,” Brandon said while replacing the man’s beer. “It was pretty much the same story up in Portland.”
Brandon had his head in a notebook and startled when Kao walked in through the backdoor. He apologized.
“Don’t worry about it. The bar is clean. Clean and empty,” Kao said. “I know Amy tells everyone to bring a book just in case this place gets slow. Let me get these guys a round, and I’ll have a Corona with lime and salt.”
“Mexican piss this early in the week?” one of the men said.
Kao laughed and asked Brandon about the notebook.
“Just some stories I’m working on,” Brandon said.
“Mind me taking a look?”
“They’re really rough sketches. Let me send you a story I’ve been working on.”
Vanessa and Brandon smoked on his balcony while waiting for the tri-tip and corn to finish cooking. She told him about possibly going to college or joining the military.
“So why don’t you just do ROTC and kill two birds?” Brandon asked.
“Can you do ROTC as a graduate student?”
“I don’t even know, but it’s something to look into if you’re really interested.”
She punched it into her phone. “Hmm, says it’s definitely possible.”
“Well, good for you. Can I ask you something about Elaine?”
“You can ask. I might not answer.”
“She says she has a side business.”
“I’m not following,” Vanessa said.
“She says she sells things on-line.”
Vanessa kept a straight face for a couple seconds but couldn’t resist laughing. “Yes, totally true.”
“How do you know?”
“When we work out, she goes to the ladies’ room every fifteen minutes or so to put on different panties.”
“Okay,” Brandon said.
“It’s good money apparently.”
“Um, is it me or does the apartment look like it’s missing something?”
Vanessa scanned the room and said, “You need one of those kitchen islands.”
Both their phones beeped. It was the same message from Dennis: “Drunk at the Cantina. Come meet me.”
While they were eating dinner, the bartender at the Cantina called Vanessa and told her Dennis was in bad shape. When Vanessa and Brandon arrived, Dennis was slouched on a bench in front of the bar.
“His tab is a little over $200 but he lost a bet on the baseball game for $500,” Josh Walters said. “I told him I’ll call it a wash for $500.”
All of Dennis’s cards were denied even for just the tab. Vanessa paid to clear everything, and Brandon carried Dennis out to his car.
“Fucking Giants,” Dennis slurred.