Some things in life are linear she thought as she pushed open the door. The familiar sights and sounds engulfed her like a womb. She hated that coming here always felt like coming home. She perched at the far end of the bar, sitting on the unstable wooden stool. From here she could see the whole crowd.
Tonight would be the night, tonight she would find him. How many bars? How many nameless men had she passed over, or sometimes through it seemed over the past year?
The wrinkles around her eyes pulled together as she squinted through the haze. The low hanging smoke, dazzled by the flashing neon gave each of the men a shellacking of what she was looking for.
Not tall enough, too old, too many tattoos, brown eyes not the velvety green she longed for. As she crossed the men off looking over them her heart felt heavier. She had begun optimistically; dressing in her Sunday best, gliding from bar to tavern all over town, each night promising herself tonight was the night she’d find him. Tonight had turned into tomorrow had turned into next week. How many times over the past year had she done this? He was out there somewhere, and she would find him or die trying.
A slight head nod to the burly man behind the bar got her a scotch and water. The glass slid smoothly toward her like a freight train full of her past. The cold clink of the ice as hand and glass collided chilled her. Wasn’t this tiny insignificant glass half the reason she was sitting all alone?
She fought the stinging of tears with the burn of cheap alcohol. The empty glass sat mocking her. There was a ghost of pale pink lipstick clinging to the rim. She wondered about the woman whose lips had preceded hers. What had she been drinking? Why had she been drinking?
Another nod, another glass of disappointment and watered down liqueur filled her palm. Three drinks later and a dozen polite rejections to the off work construction crew, she slid shakily from her wooden perch and veered toward the ladies room.
Cold water ran over her hands as she tried to wash tonight’s failure off of her skin. Maybe tomorrow she said as her eyes fell onto the sad reflection weeping back at her. Where had all the time gone? It seemed so very long ago since she first lost him. Ages since they laughed and ran in the warm sunshine. She bit her lip recalling his smile, his fierce green eyes, the Irish lilt that would not leave his tongue even after so many years in America. To her, he was Superman, and she was just a lost little girl waiting for a hero, but somehow, somewhere along the way he had forgotten to save her.
She turned her gaze to the empty towel dispenser, frustration pursing her lips. As she pushed the swinging door open thinking maybe tomorrow, her ears latched onto a familiar sound just beneath the hum of the bar.
“Top o’the morning to ya boys.”
The air caught in her lungs, as more tears threatened to break camp and invade her cheeks. Topped off with doubt and afraid of disappointment she turned the corner, like a sudden flash of lighting on a clear night, there he stood.
Her heart clenched inside her chest. Would he go home with her? Would he yell and put up a fight? Would he be too drunk to know her? She sucked in stale bar air through scotch coated teeth and trudged toward the complete unknown.
Without a word she put her hands on his shoulders and kissed his cheek still cold from the night air. His green eyes sparkled back at her, his smile the same as always stretched across his jaw. He nodded as if he could read her mind. His eyes were a storm of past, present and booze. He rose taking her hand in his; together they headed for the exit that would release them for now, until the next time. How many times had he forgotten about her, but never about the booze?
“Momma, its Karen,” she spoke quickly into the phone, “I found Daddy.”
Her fingers brushed for a second across the Alzheimer’s id bracelet hanging from his small knobby wrist.
“I missed ya,” he whispered as they drove, she sobbed silently, relieved he remembered her at all.