A Man Walks In To A Bar

A man walks in to a bar and pulls a stool out from under the bar bench of the old Light-horseman Inn.

The barmaid is a woman of forty-two, bearing  a crinkled brow and thin lips, with three kids at home and hips to show it.

The bar maid asks him, WhatcanIgeddya?

He waves at the taps with light fingers, his skeleton pinky finger brushing against the cold frost on the silver pipe though it doesn’t make a smudge.

She points at the kangaroo logo.

He shakes his head.

She points at the emu logo.

He shakes his head.

She points at the horse logo.

He nods.

She straddles a schooner glass in her nimble fingers.

He shakes his head.

She picks up a midi glass.

He nods.

She pours the beer, waiting for the head to settle before topping up and placing it with a wet bottom down on to the bar mat. She tells him, Four fifty, mate.

He shakes his head.

She tells him, Right then, local’s price, four bucks.

He nods and she pours but there’s no exchange of cash.

He sits with the beer in front, staring in to sediment, then he projects his line of sight up behind the bar and becomes lost in another world.

The bar maid serves another person before returning to her mystery guest. She whips the tea towel up on the bar and places one hand on her hip, with the same side leg up on the ash tray under the bar.

Why aren’t you drinking your beer, love?

He’s staring behind her and points up on to the wall at her rear. There hangs a painting of a digger in full dress, his hat tipped on one side.

Oh, do you know him? She asks.

He nods.

Your brother?

He shakes his head.

Your friend?

He shakes his head.

Not many of you left, she says.

He nods.

Look, this fella you’re staring at, born 1901, died 1918. Local guy, apparently.

He shakes his head.

She asks again, is it your father?

He shakes his head.

She whips the tea towel one more time over the bar counter where she finally notices that his skeleton fingers have left no trace on the icy taps.

Is it…you?

He picks up the midi of beer, sculls it, then picks up his hat with the one side lopped and nods the bar maid goodnight.