Business runs pretty much as usual, at the Busted Skull. The place has a rhythm all it’s own, that doesn’t pay any mind to who owns it. Sure, late at night, we see a lot more of those suits that never came off any rack, but it stays low key enough that I get the feeling that, connections or not, Matty NoLastName intends to run a clean bar. The tab is always paid, comps are rare. I’ve been keeping an eye on the inventory. None of it’s walking out the door on it’s own.
Matty isn’t in much. Comes in at lunch, for the books. Late at night to sit with friends. Leaves Taylor to run the rest of the business. I get the feeling that he wasn’t asked. It just sort of happened that way. Like I said, this place has a rhythm all it’s own. It would run even if no one ever came in to manage things. The regulars stay. Like that would ever change. I’ve been talking to some of these guys for six years now. Know what they drink, the names of their wives, kids, girlfriends.
Taylor doesn’t get in the way. I guess we both watch people for a living. So Taylor watches. He’s at the door, or sitting on the far end of the bar. Rarely, he’ll sit and talk with people who come in, but it’s low key.
The waitresses are going to eat him alive, but he seems pretty patient. I guess he must be used to that sort of attention from women. There are no secrets in a bar, so I know he’s not sleeping with any of them. Not for any lack of trying on their part though.
He’s not afraid to actually get his hands dirty, either. My bar porter left. Our competition, the biker bar down the street, offered more money, and he left. On a Friday. At six at night. No notice.
I didn’t even have to ask. Turn around, and Taylor is behind the bar with me, filling coolers, pouring pints. He’s a little slower than the regular porter. I don’t see anyone asking him to rush though.
A little awkward, when it got busy. I don’t say excuse me. I don’t have that kind of time. Too busy keeping a list in my head of the next twenty drinks I’m making. Talking to the regulars. Shut out the drone of the waitresses.
So I don’t say excuse me. It’s a hand on the hip, the waist, the lower back. Whatever happens to be in the way at the moment. Not a shove, not being rude, not asking you to stop what you’re doing and move. Just the way that two people move around in a small space, while not talking, while not stopping. You don’t like to be touched. Too bad, I guess. It’ll wear off. It does, eventually, and before long, the two of us are fluid behind the bar. Not saying a word to each other. It’s a busy night, there’s no time. You’re a lot gentler than you look.
It quiets down, and you leave me my bar to myself again. I stock up, go and wrestle around with the kegs for a while. Sit out back with a coffee, on the milkcrates, head down on the staff table out back, the cook working out a knot in my shoulders. Not exactly doing a great job of it, but what the hell, sometimes it really is the thought that counts. Someone will call me if they need me right away.
Hands switch, scrape of a crate. Powerful hands go right to the knot, working it out expertly, gently. I don’t turn around. Hell, I’ve been smelling your aftershave all night already. Taylor. You keep massaging, long after the knot is gone. I guess I could have said something, but then you might have stopped, and for the life of me I can’t imagine why I would ask you to do that. My back is a puddle. Seems there’s an upside to keg-wrestling afterall.
I resent the hell out of having to get up, but Matty and some friends have showed up. A quick, damned sincere too, thanks to Taylor, before I head back out front.