The scene at Cole’s isn’t bad. A lot of old timey Buffalo memorabilia on the walls. Nothing I could really appreciate, but Jack knew. I could have asked him about it all, but I wasn’t too worried. The music was a little loud, which wouldn’t be a problem if they had a system capable of handling it. Instead it was tinny and warped and the cones threatening to blow any second. No one seemed to notice so I guess that’s par for the course here. Jack and I grabbed blue lights from the bar and mingled, checking out the vibe.
“Normally it’s more crowded.” Tuesday at Cole’s is supposed to be a big thing here in Buffalo; Jack’s been talking it up all week.
“Maybe it’s finals week for these guys too.” Wasn’t that the reason none of the other guys had been able to make it out tonight?
“Nah, that’s just for UB.”
“No idea. Maybe it’s just too early.” Is 11 pm too early? I have no real frame of reference. I don’t hit the bars much in Vegas. It’s easier to just get a case and hang out over at Dean’s. We grabbed a booth and a pitcher.
“So how’s Monica doing?” Picking up a 35 year old at a bar. Talk about smooth.
“Fuck off, Isaac.” I do believe I found my way into a bachelorette party that night. Somehow I don’t think they wanted me there. I don’t really remember what happened
“Was she not able to get a sitter tonight?”
“That was her babysitter on Saturday. The crazy blonde one you were all over.” Oh, right. Her. That was what happened after the bachelorette. That did not go well. I don’t think she even talked to me. Too busy dancing alone.
“Oh yeah. So who was watching the kids?”
“Dude, it’s not like I’m going to call her.” I know. That’s why she should have picked me. I would have called her back. No. No, that’s not true.
“Sorry, man. It is still a little funny.”
“Well, we could wander around again. I mean, there are more people now…”
“With the pitcher?”
“I could carry it. Drink straight from it.” That wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. I could impress all these young coeds with my drinking prowess. Because that worked so well back in college.
“That would be your style.” I really need to change my style. That drinking thing is as much responsible for keeping me in this rut as everything else. Well, the job is probably a little more responsible. And I do hate living in Vegas. Fucking shit town.
“Or maybe I should work on not coming off like an alcoholic.”
“Probably a better idea.” You have it so easy, Jack. You don’t have to know that every instinct you have is wrong, that every decision you make you will ultimately regret. Just call me George Costanza.
“Any word on getting another pong game going?” Pong. The games of kings. Perhaps the most skill intensive drinking game extant and a glorious way to spend an evening. Or afternoon. Whatever.
“So far nothing. No trucks. No garages or rooms with high enough ceilings to really loft the ball.” Fuck.
“Beirut again?” Beirut. There is simply no comparison.
“I think it’ll have to be. Schmidt’s been wanting to get a game in at his place. After the Sabers’ game maybe.”
“Word. Want to get another pitcher?” My answer to everything: drink up. Yeah, I suppose it does get depressing. But it’s something to do. After all, there is nothing harder that waiting for the time to pass.
“Actually, I don’t really even feel like finishing this. I sort of feel like just going.”
“Yeah?” Really? Because this was my last shot at hooking up on this vacation. Last good shot anyway.
“Yeah. It’s too hard to pick up girls here if you aren’t in a group. It’s just the dynamic of the place. Groups meet each other here. We’re just too undermanned to do any good.” What a fucking excuse. I could go up to a group of hot strangers if you wanted me to. I could. What? I could.
“Too bad the Dawg couldn’t make it.”
“Alright,” finishing my beer and standing, “let’s be out of this bitch.” And after shoving our way through the now packed room all the way to the door, Jack turned.
“My phone. I forgot it back at the booth.”
“Awesome.” The booth wasn’t empty when we got there and the phone was nowhere to be seen. Not that I was looking. Now occupying the table were two rather buxom young ladies wearing low cut shirts which, from their sitting and my standing position, offered a rather nice view. The phone wasn’t my priority. Unfortunately, Jack was still a little too preoccupied with getting it back to fully appreciate our new friends.
“Excuse me; have either of you seen a phone? We were just sitting here and I think I forgot it on the table.” So which one do you want, Jack. Because I’ll take anything
“Oh, so it was yours.” The blonde is attractive, tan. She doesn’t look too tall though. More Jack’s type than mine.
“So you’ve seen it.?”
“Yeah. But I just gave it to one of the waiters. If we knew you were coming back we would have held on to it but…” Or there’s the redhead. Seems kinda quiet. Letting blondie do all the talking.
“Do you know which waiter?”
“Umm, not exactly. But I’ll be able to point him out to you when he comes back around.” Jack, forget about the fucking phone. There are more pressing concerns at the moment. Look at the situation we have here: no guys, no group. Work with me here. And then red, out of nowhere, kicked the conversation into high gear.
“Don’t worry. Your phone will be fine. We’re down with O.P.P.” Did she just say what I thought she just said? She can’t mean that. Shotgun.
“Yeah.” Did she just wink at me? In that case, allow me to sit down here next to you. I guess we don’t have to pick, Jack. She picked for us.
“I don’t get it.” Jack, what do you mean you don’t get it? How do you not know that line? You especially should know that line.
“You know, ‘other people’s property.’” She rolled her eyes. I commiserated. Jack still looked confused, but let it drop.
“So, hey, my name’s Isaac.” Insert mischievous grin.
“Caroline.” And she giggled. I shot Jack a look. He nodded back. Game on.
“And I’m Ramona!” Easy there, blondie. The spotlight doesn’t have to be on you all night. Jack took his seat. Everyone in their right place.
Caroline, despite her Naughty By Nature allusions, was often quite shy. It was like she was afraid of what she might say, but you could see the spark in her, that wicked troublemaking side just begging to be let out. Ramona, on the other hand, wouldn’t shut up. I don’t think her well went too deep either. Sorry, Jack. How could I have known? At least she’s pretty.
Turns out they were both seniors at Buff State. Which I guess should have meant something to me. Caroline an English major with no job prospects despite the looming graduation and Ramona a business/marketing major all set to join some family business or whatever. I can’t really remember what we talked about. I left the details of my life vague. They didn’t need to hear how depressing it was. Jack got his phone back. We shared a few more pitchers and everything went smoothly. We headed out just before last call. Jack and Ramona took his car and Caroline and I followed after.
We hadn’t cleaned up the beer cans and such from the last drink fest, so I suppose we should have been embarrassed. But, you know, whatever. They had already committed. They weren’t leaving now. With little fanfare, Jack and Ramona bid Caroline and I goodnight and retired to the bedroom. I set up the air mattress in the middle of the floor like I had every other night, spread Jack’s Bills blanket and we lay down together.
Caroline was still lying there next to me when I woke up. I wasn’t really afraid that she would have left in the night. But there is that moment just at waking when nothing is fully certain and everything is still half a dream and the worst crosses my mind. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at me.
“Hi.” I heard Jack and Ramona stirring in the bedroom. They made enough noise for us to hear and waited long enough for us to get decent. How considerate. There was some talk of us all going to breakfast but Jack was quick enough to talk our way out of that and, upon double checking that we had correct numbers and a few goodbye kisses, they were gone.
Jack walked back to the living room, turned on the TV, and sat in the recliner. I grabbed the last beer from the fridge, popped it and took the couch. I cracked my back and my neck, stretched a bit, and took a long pull on the beer. Walker was on. Nothing quite like starting the day with a roundhouse kick. Thank you, Chuck Norris.
“That air mattress isn’t as comfortable as you would think.”
“I think there might be a leak.”