I tended bar at Tony's Tap Room up on Biltmore Avenue.
The gig was good enough and while I wasn't a Rockefeller by any stretch, I didn't need much. At the end of the week, my rent was paid, the cupboard was stocked and if I was lucky, I'd be able to spring for some English Leather for the weekends.
That said, I sometimes felt I wasn't paid enough to deal with the occasional bullshit that came with the gig. We had our share of regulars. There was Shade, half-hustler, half lover; Tino, the cool cat with the cool car; O'Toole, the crazy mick that everyone seemed to love; Auggie, the portly everyman and Bobby C., who was plum convinced he'd be the next Frankie Valli. And then there was Linky... He was a fucking moron.
Taking care of the guys was usually Elsa. She was Danish and gorgeous. Being that I also managed the place, Tony threw in some extra cash for some eye candy and I only hired top-shelf. And why not? If I have to look at these mooks all day long, I should be able to stare at something that jiggled once in a while. Plus, this was just the kind of watering hole men where men escaped their wives and Elsa was the icing on this crummy cake.
Looking back, maybe Linky shouldn't have said what he said. But hey, that was Linky -- half stupid, half insensitive. It all started when he bet Elsa fifty beans that she couldn't dance a whole tune without spilling the drinks on her tray. He tossed her a coin and she trotted up to the juke, choosing a song and she cut her rug.
It was the best three minutes of my shitty week. in fact, there were thirteen of us in there and I think, they'd all agree. When she finished, we all clapped except for Linky, who told her that she had lost the bet.
Perplexed, she asked why. Linky told everyone that he had to pick out the song so it was a natural forfeit. We all groaned at him and it didn't take long for tears to well up in Elsa's big brown peepers.
She looked around the joint and recognition reared its ugly head. It was obvious that Elsa had enough. She charged toward Linky and hurled that plastic blue tray right at him. He ducked so most of the glasses hit my pinball machine -- which was on its way out anyway.
Elsa grabbed her coat, told me she was sorry and walked across the street to the diner, where I see her everyday waiting tables with a smile.
She was a good kid and I'm glad for her. I'm even happier that there's no jukebox in there.