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Week #5
Hotel Bar

I love Thursday nights. It means the weekend is just around the corner.

 

Since I moved to my condo in the hotel I've got in the habit of heading to the bar for a nightcap on Thursdays after dinner. The hotel bar generally had a good bit of traffic during the week. It was mostly the hotel guests and consultants that travel to the City for business. Thursdays however, was the quite day when anyone who is not a resident left to go to their respective homes. There was only about ten of us that actually lived in the hotel condos.

 

I remember the first time I watched the movie Pretty Woman, how the female lead there found the idea of living in a hotel odd. But for me, it’s been comfortable and convenient. It has meant I can walk to and from work at any time of day and in any type of weather in under 10 minutes. It has meant I can order a meal from six in the morning till eleven at night without having to worry. And most importantly, it has meant a group of people who always recognized me, like a family, but didn’t get nosy like a family.

 

“The usual?” Nick asked as I walked in to the bar. Nick had been the bartender at the hotel bar since I had moved in to the condo upstairs. He knew I always came for a night cap on Thursdays and he knew what I have every time I came. He knew I always sat at the corner booth, facing away from the door and had 2 cocktails while finishing up my last set of emails. He was part of my hotel family.

“Thanks Nick. I’ll be in my spot.”

 

I walked with my nose buried in my phone and sat in my usual spot. My boss had apparently decided to work late tonight and my inbox was filled with what felt like a hundred emails.

 

“I might need a third glass today to get through all the emails.” I muttered as I started to type furiously. Most of the emails were single questions that only needed simple answers. I decided to respond to them as I read and kept the longer emails for last. Nick brought the first drink and cleared his throat as if to interrupt. But I automatically picked up the glass, took a sip and waved him off without looking up from the phone.

 

Nick knew how to mix drinks. It was always just the right balance of sweet and tart with the taste of alcohol completely masked. Just the way I like it!

A good twenty minutes later I was through the emails and one cocktail. Nick had already replaced it with a second while I was furiously typing. I was glad it was there when I finally put down the phone.

 

Because that’s when I noticed the man sitting across from me in my booth.  Most of his face was in shadow but the little I could see didn’t look particularly happy. If anything the set of his mouth suggested a mixture of annoyance and surprise.

“Uhh… is the rest of the bar full?” I asked mostly from myself as I looked around. I didn’t recall when he had sat down but more importantly, I couldn’t understand why anyone would think it was appropriate to sit in an occupied booth when there were so many others open.

“Not really. That’s why I was wondering about your choice of seating.” He responded in a slightly accented voice.

The voice sounded incredibly familiar, even if irritated.

“But this is my booth. I sit here every Thursday.” I explained while trying my best to see his face. The lighting in the bar wasn’t cooperating.

 

“When I sat down no one told me the booth was reserved.”

 

“What do you mean when you sat down? I’ve been here for a good half hour already.”

 

“Actually, you walked in 24 minutes ago and sat down while I was sitting here peacefully enjoying my drink. And then you started typing furiously ignoring everything around you.”

 

“You were here already?” I felt unsure. Had he really been here the whole time? Was I the one intruding then? “But only the regulars are at the bar on Thursday nights. And we all have our spots.”

 

“I see.” He tone clearly communicated that wasn’t an acceptable excuse for my behavior.

 

“I’m sorry. I can move. In fact, I am almost done. I didn’t mean to intrude. Please excuse me.” I didn’t need to make a scene. I stood up to go.

 

“Hey, I brought you a third. It looked like you finally made a friend.” Nick had come over with another drink.

 

“Actually, I was about to head back Nick.” I felt bad one of Nick’s drinks was going to waste. But I didn’t want to feel like I was intruding on someone else’s space either. “You can add that to my room tab as well.”

 

“But that’ll waste my drink. It won’t take more than a few minutes to get this down.” Nick placed my drink in front of me and replaced the empty glass in front of the man opposite me with a new one that looked like whiskey on the rocks. “Compliments of the house sir.”

“Thank you. But you didn’t have to do that.” He leaned forward and responded to Nick with a smile and a nod.

"It's my pleasure sir." Nick left smiling to himself.

That was the first time the stranger's entire face came out of the shadow. I stood there frozen, wondering if I was seeing things.

“Why don’t you sit down and finish the drink. It'll go to waste otherwise, like he said” Oppa’s voice finally registered in my brain.

“Hmm…” I automatically sat down.

“What is that drink? It’s the ugliest pink I’ve seen.” 

“It’s a Salty Dog. It’s grapefruit juice with gin. Nick makes mean cocktails but he always makes mine extra sweet.”

“Hmm. Nick seems to know you well.”

“I’ve been coming here every Thursday for a couple of years now. He should know me. But he's a big fan of yours too.”

“Huh... I didn't expect to be recognized here." He seemed to consider something and dismiss whatever bothered him. "So, that’s how you are a regular then. But isn’t this a little late to be out at a bar on a weeknight?”

“Not if you live four stories above the bar.”

“Oh… you live here?” Oppa seemed to find it funny.

“Hmm… have been for a couple of years.”

“What kind of a person lives in a hotel?”

“The kind that doesn’t like to drive to work everyday and want to have a nightcap when its been a long day.” I wasn't sure why I felt defensive explaining suddenly. I had made my piece with where I live a long time.

“I suppose it can be convenient..." He said in a thoughtful voice. "So you work Downtown then? Was it work that had you distracted? it sounded like you were mad at a co-worker or something.”

"Yes, I work a couple of blocks down the street and yes, my boss decided to work late so I had a few dozen emails to get through."

"Sounds like a long day."

"Now you know why I live this close to work. Sometimes it's just easier to run to the office to get things done... But I'm not complaining really. I like what I do and the difference it makes."

 

"Hmm... Right, if you want to make a difference you have to be committed and you have to make sacrifices. I suppose this is your way of doing that... So, is this what you want for the rest of life?"

"That's too long to look out right now. Some day, depending on where life takes, I can see living outside of the city. But right now, life is here. Figure I'll live today for now."

"Interesting philosophy - Living in the moment and making a difference." Oppa's gaze was both curious and inquisitive. The combination was completely uncomfortable.     

“What are you doing here anyway? We are not exactly in a movie city. This is backwaters compared to where movies take place.”

“Movies happen everywhere. The location depends on the story.”

“Are you saying you are doing a movie here?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“So you are not here doing a movie then?”

“I didn’t say that either.” One side of his mouth twitched up. I’ve seen it on the silver screen a hundred times but the real life version was so much more breathtaking.

“Uhhh… what exactly are you saying?” My brain felt like swiss cheese suddenly. Everything other than oppa was out of focus and not much made sense.

“Curiosity killed the cat, you know” Oppa observed.

“Yes, but satisfaction brought it back” I was glad my mouth had gone on auto-drive. Absent that, I would've just sat there frozen.

“I guess I have to tell you what I’m doing then to bring you back to life.” His smile deepened as the sides of his eyes crinkled and the dimples appeared. His eyes twinkled and his entire face lit up when he smiled like that.

“It would be nice to be alive”

“Ok… I’ll tell you then. I’m spending a few days here learning the habits of the natives.”

“You make ‘natives’ sound like some barbaric other species. We are not all that different.” I spoke while sipping the drink again. My brain function had finally returned.

 

“Really? Where I come from the civilized people do things like respecting others personal space. Especially in a half empty bar.”

“Fine… we are barbarians that violate personal space and steal your peace and quite. But why are you observing the barbarians then?”

“Because I have to be one in a short while.”

“Oh… we are research for a role.”

“Well, I was hoping for a bar fight at a minimum but this place is dead. So I’d better call it a night.”

“If you want rowdy behavior then you should go to one of the places on Main street.”

“Yeah? Do you have any recommendations?”

“Sure. There’s 141 and Fahrenheit. They are both happening places. Though honestly, bar fights are not all that common even among us barbarians here.”

“I guess I have to still get some research done. Maybe I’ll try them tomorrow night. It’s time to call it quits for this night.”

I stood up with him. It was late and I had to go to work in the morning. We both took the elevator up. Oppa was on the third floor and I was heading to the fifth. Much as I knew it was ending, I really didn’t want to let Oppa go. I wanted to stretch the final moments of meeting my oppa last just a little longer. It hadn’t quite sunk in that Oppa was standing in front of me and talking to me.

“If you decide to actually do it, be safe when you go out tomorrow night. There are more people that will recognize you than you might think, even here.” I spoke up as the elevator doors opened for Oppa to step out.

“Hmm… I will.” Oppa spoke looking directly at me. He had his hand on the elevator doors to stop them from closing.

He paused for a moment and held my gaze.

“If you are free, maybe you can be my bodyguard tomorrow then?”

Week #5
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