The couple sat next to each other on rough wooden stools in a bar. It was a mostly covered bar, except where the sheets of plastic and tin didn’t come together. Fresh air, sun, birds, and rain came through the same cracks and openings without discretion.
It was a bright, hot morning. Silvery puddles remained on the streets and sidewalks from the last night’s heavy rain. The air felt warm and heavy, a welcome change from the cold and frigid air of the Midwest.
“That was some kind of rain we had last yesterday,” the man said to the woman, as he watched a weather forecast on the tv mounted to the wall.
“Looks like Indiana is about to get hit with a blizzard. Whew, glad we’re out of there.”
Already, they began to identify themselves as a part of the island, thinking they were like locals instead of as conspicuous tourists. Drinking first thing in the day seemed like the right thing to do in their efforts to acculturate.
“Mmm…hmm…” she agreed without words.
She swirled a straw in a glass of something pink, preoccupied, and took off her large sun hat. With one hand, she smoothed her dark hair back into place. A cringe took over her pretty mouth when she remembered picking her way through the flooded streets and the murky water swirling around her ankles.
My feet were wet at least four hours, she calculated. An itch started in the arch of her foot and she cringed again. Oh god, she thought, what if its trench foot or swamp rot or whatever it is that happens when feet get wet for too long?
As she worried, the bar filled with people for brunch. They jostled and bumped into one another as they ordered rounds of mimosas and Bloody Mary’s. It was an entire town filled with people on vacation and people who make money from those on vacation. The unspoken agreement allowed this symbiotic relationship to continue as long as everyone was well-plied with alcohol: morning, noon, and night.
The man broke the woman’s ruminations, “Do you want another Greyhound?”
“No, I think I’ll try a Blood Mary. I want one of those spicy green beans they use down here.”
He laughed and his blue-grey eyes sparkled, “You could just ask for a green bean, I bet the bartender would give you one.”
They both looked at the bartender, waiting impatiently on another couple. She wore mystical rings on each of her fingers and her skin was like tanned leather.
The bartender must have sensed them talking about her. She quickly turned her head with as much sass as one gal could muster for a Monday morning, and gave them a look that said, whatever it is you want, it can wait.
When she turned back to the second couple, her hand was balled up into a fist on her hip.
She explained, “Like I said, there is only one option of champagne for the mimosas.”
The woman from the first pair noticed the couple’s bright gold rings and fresh faces, and whispered to her partner, “Yuppy newlyweds,” with a giggle.
She forgot her foot-related worries as the warmth of the vodka spread across her chest and belly. Life’s much easier to face when one’s day is started with a good drink, she thought.
“Ok,” the bartender sashayed over. “What can I get for you, two?” she asked with a straight face and a thinly veiled disdain for her patrons.
At least she not’s fake about it, the man thought, noticing her serious demeanor. I’d much rather know that she dislikes us than have her smile at our faces and spit into our drinks. I suppose she still might spit into our drinks, but at least we’ll see it coming.
“Two Bloody Mary’s, please,” the man requested.
Rather than speaking, the bartender nodded and set off to mixing and measuring out the drinks.
Fat drops of rain started to fall through the cracks. The rain plinked and plunked when it hit the roof of plastic and tin. It began to drip onto the man’s head, sliding down his blonde hair onto his chest and shoulders.
His partner began to laugh, and said, “Uh oh, you better come over this way, out of the rain.”
She tugged at his stool to bring him out from under one of the cracks and closer to her.
“Where did that come from?” he asked, peering up through the hole in the roof to the sky, now grey and cloudy.
“It will blow over,” the bartender chortled, seeing the man’s wet head, and set down two tall glasses of Bloody Mary.
“Cheers,” the woman said, picking up her glass. The man picked up his glass and met hers in the air with a chink.
The woman smiled when she sipped her drink, and two spicy green beans bobbed up in the sea of red tomato juice.
“Thank you,” the woman said, catching the bartender’s attention. The bartender looked up with tired eyes and gave a half smile in acknowledgement.
“We might be here awhile,” the man stated, looking back up to the dark sky while his partner thoughtfully crunched on a spicy green bean.