“Are you kidding?” she asks, but doesn’t expect an answer. She’s leaning against the bar, her long arms draped over it, her fingers dipping in beer spills.
Wagner is silent. He isn’t kidding, clearly.
“She left, and she’s not coming back!” she exclaims.
Wagner nods. “I know. It’s too late.” He moves closer to me, in the middle. I move closer to her. She looks at herself in the mirror. We all look at ourselves in the big mirror behind the bar, continuing conversation through glass.
“What am I supposed to do?” Wagner asks.
“What are you supposed to do?” she repeats. She turns away from the mirror and at the crowd of men gathered to her right. “What is he supposed to do?”
The men perk up at the sight of a friendly, intoxicated blonde. “What is he supposed to do?”
The ringleader motions for the group to stand up. They circle us like vultures. I notice wedding bands. I sip my whiskey, neat, and shift away from Wagner, who is fingering his cellphone and staring at me in the mirror.
She sits up straight. “He dated this girl for years. And he’s here from Florida. And she left, she went back home, and he let her go.”
“Where’d she go?” asked one of the married men.
“Home,” she answers.
“The Lower East Side,” adds Wagner.
“Home,” she repeats. “But then she’s moving. This is it. She’s moving back to California.”
“Oh god,” moans Wagner, and I can’t tell if it’s the crowd, or the booze, or the thought of Los Angeles.
“Wagner! You’ve got to call her!”
The crowd of men agrees, sipping their beers and nodding enthusiastically.
“You’ve got to call her or else.”
“Or else what?” asks Wagner.
“Or else she’s gone. She’s practically gone already. This is it!”
The men offer suggestions, like witty text messages and come hither smiley face emoticons that would convince her via SMS to felate him. Wagner just fingers his cellphone, passing it from hand to hand, staring at himself in the mirror.
“You’re going to wait too long and that’s going to be it.”
“And then what?” asks a married man.
“And then your pussy has left New York.” She excuses herself to use the bathroom. The men slink away, back to their beers and conversations and boring, married lives.
Wagner looks at me in the mirror. I take his phone and text her for him. And then I go back to my whiskey, neat.