– A back end middle row pub –
Ben looks worn. He looks like he aged suddenly overnight and he’s unsure where his youth went.
The Barkeep is civil and honest. Clean cut hair, with 3 day growth on his face because he’s saving money and can’t spare it for a razor.
Ben: Mate, I’m fucking lonely.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve just been a bit of a loner lately.
Barkeep: You have all those friends I see you with, what are you on about?
Ben: Most of them are false the moment I’m not there they turn on me.
Barkeep: They can’t be all bad…
Ben: Some are great, sometimes I think you’re one of my only friends.
Barkeep: I’m not your friend, I’m your bartender, how many times do I have to tell you that?
Ben: I’ll believe it next time.
Barkeep: You said that last time.
Ben: Why can’t my bartender be my friend? It’s a mutual relationship based on conversation, alcohol and Saturday nights together.
Barkeep: Because I’m paid to deal with you.
Ben: What does that have to do with anything?
Barkeep: Would you claim your favourite hooker was your best girl friend?
Ben: If she was the best female i knew, then sure…
Barkeep: You have issues with trust my friend.
Ben: See there you go confusing me, friend…
Barkeep: My mistake.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, make this one a double.
Barkeep: You’re the boss.
Ben: You know what I like about coming here of a night?
Barkeep: The alcohol?
Ben: Nah nah, I mean yeah, that, but her…
Ben: Her, the adorable waitress you have here.
Ben: Yeah, yeah Marji. She doesn’t say a word other than your order and yet she’s so charming!
Barkeep: She isn’t interested.
Ben: How do you know?
Barkeep: Because she hasn’t said a word to you other than your order since she started working here – or wasn’t that obvious.
Ben: You’re quite rude tonight.
Barkeep: I’m rude every night. You’re usually too drunk to notice.
Ben: She might be playing hard to get!
Barkeep: She’s not playing anything, she’s trying to be hard to get.
Ben: Why? That’s not fair.
Barkeep:Maybe because she doesn’t want you to get her.
Ben: What’s wrong with me? I’m not that bad.
Barkeep: No, you’re not, alcoholism and general lack of trust aside, you’re alright.
Barkeep:Don’t mention it. Another?
Ben: Yeah, whiskey sour.
Barkeep: Coming up.
Ben: Why don’t you play something a little more livelier? Maybe she’s bored with the atmosphere in here.
Barkeep: Do I look like the DJ?
Ben: You could be?
Barkeep: She’s not bored. She just wants to be left alone and a little jive isn’t going to change that.
Ben: You haven’t seen me swing…
Barkeep: I’ve seen you sway on your way out and I assure you that it’s not winning any hearts.
Ben: You’re just jealous.
Barkeep: Of what?
Ben: My natural rhythm.
Barkeep: You have no rhythm, natural or improvised.
Ben: Perhaps, where’s my drink?
Barkeep: Right here, enjoy my impatient friend.
Ben: Cheers, and don’t start that again.
Barkeep: Right, what would you say if i told you when you first started coming in here I couldn’t remember your name?
Ben: Really? Ben that hard to remember?
Barkeep: I dunno, I wasn’t have been paying attention.
Ben: So what does that have to do with anything anyway?
Barkeep: I may have told everyone your name was Mark and I haven’t corrected that.
Ben: You’re kidding?
Barkeep: Nope, not kidding you.
Ben: So marji?
Barkeep: She doesn’t know you exist.
Barkeep: Why did you start coming in here on the regular?
Ben: To drink.
Ben: Well it was.
Barkeep: Yeah but why all of a sudden? We never used to see you until 6 months ago, now I can’t get rid of you!
Ben: She died.
Barkeep: What? She died?
Ben: Yeah, she died.
Barkeep: Who died?
Ben: My wife.
Barkeep: Oh…I’m so sorry man.
Ben: Don’t be. You didn’t know her.
Barkeep: Yeah, but I know you now. I’m sorry for your loss.
Ben: Why’d you have to go and ruin this mate? No one knew me here, hell they thought I was Mark, and no one asked questions.
Barkeep: I didn’t mean to I just figured you’d moved closer to town or something. You were always a bit of a mystery.
Ben: No, she died and all of a sudden I was alone.
Barkeep: Shit, I am sorry ma-
Ben: Stop saying sorry.
Barkeep: I didn’t mean to upset you. Can I pour you another?
Ben: Yeah – you didn’t upset me. I just haven’t had to explain myself for a long time.
Barkeep: Should you be drinking so often?
Ben: Should I not?
Barkeep: It can’t be healthy?
Ben: Who cares?
Ben: She was my sweetheart from my youth, and a massive pain in the butt, but she was my pain. Now that she’s gone I miss those things that annoyed me.
Ben: Don’t get me wrong, she was special to me, and we were sweet together, but it’s the things that annoy you that stick around longest, and you come to care for them the most. You just don’t realise it till it’s too late.
Barkeep: Well, I had no idea. I didn’t mean to ruin this place for you like that.
Ben: You didn’t. You haven’t.
Barkeep: At least it was me and not Marji.
Ben: I’ll be back, she’s playing hard to get.
Barkeep: I had no doubt. Go change the song.
Ben: You think she’d like that?
Barkeep: I think you would.
Ben: Ok, thanks.
Barkeep: No worries, friend.