It was a sparse turn out for O’Donnell’s Pub’s happy hour on Monday.
The setting 6 p.m. sun crept through the window blinds, throwing parallel shadows across tables topped with Keno cards and Pendleton whiskey advertisements.
The stench of cigarette smoke hung in the air, the lingering remnant of frequent smoke breaks. Excited chatter from the Monday Night Football announcer blared from a small TV perched over the bar. The television personality talked far more than anyone in the bar. Between the television’s pauses, persistent, electronic blips and bleeps rang out from video poker games and digitized slot machines lining the bar’s west wall.
A woman, with straight black hair and a face young at first glance, yet lined with age after a moment of inspection, called over to a girl planted in front of a flickering screen.
“Are you winning?”
“This time I am.”
“Well good girl.”
The crowd, a few solitary folk and a group of two older couples, were clustered around four tables in the middle of the room. Two pool tables sat at their right, unused. Unoccupied booths abutted advertisement draped wooden walls to the left.
Supported by black leather, high-backed bar stools that stood on the checkered linoleum floor, the group spoke in murmurs. On occasion, a raspy chuckle drifted from their table.
“That movie, “Law Abiding Citizen”, oh, I want to see that so bad,” said one of the ladies as she raised a $1.75 pint of beer to a wrinkled face framed in frayed brown hair.
The woman across the table nodded her head of closely cropped gray curls. “It’s on right now, On Demand. I’m pretty sure I saw it on there.”
“Oh good, I’ll have to write that down. I have to anymore. I see the advertisement and five years go by, and I still don’t remember it.”
“That Comcast bill just keeps going up and up,” one of the men chimes in, drawing nods of understanding. “At one point I just said, ‘whoa, hold on a minute.’ Enough is enough.”
“Mine’s the same way,” said the other man, shifting his bulk in the seat and adjusting his mesh farmer’s cap in frustration. “I don’t even have Showtime or nothing.”
Sitting across from the group, a middle-aged man with a shadow of a brown beard clinging to his angular jaw leisurely toyed with a goblet of red wine. A leather jacket and black, horn rim glasses set him apart from the older, blue-collar crowd. His eyes are fixed on the TV broadcasting the Rangers Yankees playoff game.
Meanwhile, at the bar, an aged man in a Ducks sweater with glasses resting comfortably on his pock-marked, bulbous nose talked to the black-haired woman sitting across of the bar.
“You drinking anything? You want a jello shot?”
“No thanks,” she replied. “I’d take a shot of Crown Royal though.”
“Well, let me get you one.” Reaching for his wallet, he turned to address the group of couples discussing television shows. “You guys want a jello shooter? They taste just like…” he paused in contemplation. “What do they taste like?”
“Orange Creamsicles,” the bartender, a young, slender brunette, replied.
“Creamsicles,” the man stated in triumph. “I’d drink a half-gallon of them if I could.” The couples laughed in appreciation.
Cradling her shot of Crown Royal, the black-haired woman turned back toward the TV.
The bartender, comfortable that her clients were satisfied, headed outside to take a call and smoke. “These guys keep calling me. I keep saying I can’t pay them,” she said, glaring at her phone. “If someone could throw a couple grand my way I’d be a happy fucking lady. I just pray some drug dealer leaves his bag on the porch.”
She opened the door to the descending twilight.
“Take the money and run.”
The door closed behind her. Through the window, her hunched form ripped a drag from her cig as her other hand held the phone to her ear. She paced back and forth.
Inside, the crowd turned back to their drinks.