© By Stacey McCoy
Some men seem too perfect to be human...
I love working at the pub. I love the atmosphere of the place. I love its high ceilings, red brick walls, its long solid wooden bar and the live bands Mick lines up to play every Thursday night.
Mick, my boss, who is more like an annoying yet manageable big brother to me, owns the place. He bought it in his early twenties with the help of his parents, then single-handedly built it up to be the profitable, popular place it is today. Mick named the pub, ‘Last Drinks.’
The three story red brick building stands proud yet somewhat constricted amongst other similar sized buildings in the area. Its dark facade unintentionally makes it feel small, compared to the tall, glass sky scraper I live in. Its only advantage is that it’s perched on a corner block in the busy suburb of Gastown here in Vancouver which allows it to expand and face two busy streets.
Last Drinks reminds me of me. Unremarkable. With my long, dark-brown, straight, volumeless hair and below average height, I sometimes feel ordinary, and yet content in my hometown. My personality, as I’ve been told by Mick, is like the building’s exterior. Occasionally I come across as tough and unapproachable, unintentionally misleading all who meet me, but once you get beyond the exterior you’re greeted with honesty, understanding and authenticity. Maybe that’s why I feel more like myself here than I do anywhere else in the world. I have a strange connection to this place, I’m not sure why, but I love being here. It feels more like home than my actual home.
Thursday nights are renowned at Last Drinks.
One Thursday evening, after having a few beers, Mick thought it’d be a good idea to repeat the same song until everyone got sick of it and went home. The song he chose was ‘Closing Time’ by Semisonic. Everyone did eventually go home, but a few of the regulars came back the next week and demanded the song be played at the end of the night again.
“And that,” as Mick says, “is history.”
About twenty months ago, I was drinking away my troubles at the bar when apparently I begged Mick for a job. Well, that’s the way Mick tells it. I am grateful for my job, really, because this job brings sanity back into my life.
When I’m not at the bar you can find me helping out at my dad’s lab. All I do is clean, but hey it keeps me busy. Sounds like a cushy job though, right? Well it kinda is and it kinda isn’t. It depends if there are any patients admitted or not. Luckily for me, tonight I’m working at the pub.
“Hey hey there baby girl. Glad you’re on tonight,” Mick shouts as he leans over the bar to speak to me.
It’s Friday night and for some stupid reason Mick agreed to let his brother’s indy rock band play, which means it’s busier than usual. Most of the crowd are pretty chilled though, which is good, but I get the feeling a few of the regulars are pissed off that their traditionally quieter Friday night drinks have been hijacked by a loud band and their alternative followers.
“Hey Mick. We need more staff. When are you going to stop mingling and get your ass back here and help us out?” I shout. I’m too busy pouring a pint to look up.
“Yeah well that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Kady, meet Rylan. He’s new in town, wants a job and tonight is as good a night as any to start, wouldn’t you say?”
“For crying out loud Mick, you’ve got to be joking. You expect me to babysit tonight?”
“I know how to pull a beer, you’d just have to show me where everything is.”
I roll my eyes and glare at Mick until he caves in and agrees to look after this Rylan guy himself, but my eye divert and meet Rylan’s. Instantly I’m captivated by this gorgeous creature who leans on the bar beside me. I feel my jaw drop as I stare into his piercing ice-blue eyes as they lock with my mixed green. Immediately I feel like I’m under his spell. My instant attraction to Rylan is undeniable, and may be reflected by the way he’s staring back at me.
Mick breaks our trance. “Kady, please. I’ll buy you a drink later if you do this for me.”
I glance again at Rylan and he smiles the most heart stopping smile as I give in and agree to show him the ropes.
“Thanks Kady, I owe you one.” Before I can throw a smart remark back at Mick, he’s lost in the crowd.
Rylan remains leaning on the bar.
“You’re on the wrong side of the bar buddy. Get your butt back here and start taking orders.”
Oh my god, he did not just call me that. “Call me that again and I’ll have you fired.”
Rylan makes his way behind the bar. I throw a spare apron at him. “I’d hate to see you get those expensive digs of yours get dirty,” I say as I take the opportunity to look him up and down.
He is stunning. His face is perfection. His striking blue eyes remind me of submerged icebergs in Antarctic waters. He’d be a good foot taller than me with hair as black as a moonless night. Pale skin like marble wraps his fit, powerful looking body. Muscular thighs cause his loose fitting, worn blue denim jeans to tighten as he moves. His dark-grey top is pulled tight against his firm chest. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy look so…manicured. There’s not one hair out of place on his beautiful head. It’s like he’s a living, breathing, stunning statue. I mean seriously how can such an exquisite, hot-blooded male possibly exist in this world? Unless he’s not – living.
“I don’t mind getting dirty...So where do I begin?” Rylan asks.
“As you can see we’re flat out tonight, so try not to get in anyone’s way, okay. Glasses are there, beers on tap. You said you know how to pour a beer didn’t you?”
“Good. Watch the guys who come to the bar with empty beer glasses and set ’em up with fresh ones. Let us girls do the rest, okay?”
To Rylan’s credit I notice he can pull a beer. He works out where the dirty glasses go and he’s quick to find his next customer.
I continue to watch him as the night goes on. I catch him observing me once or twice too. My low cut promotional tank top is probably the cause of that, although to Rylan’s credit he keeps his eyes level with mine.
I get a funny feeling that I know him though. Not like when you get the feeling that you’ve met someone once before, it’ like I know ‘what’ he is more so than ‘who’ he is. This though could just be a sign of my overly intuitive nature.
An hour and a half later and the band announces that the next song will be their last. Thank God for that. I feel like my feet are about to drop off. I’m so tired; I haven’t been able to sit down since my shift started six hours ago.
Rylan brushes past me as he makes his way to his next customer. I feel an unnatural, ice-cold chill wash over me as he moves behind me.
“I better ask Mick to pump the heat up in this joint?” I suggest.
“Why, are you cold?”
“No I’m fine, but every time you walk past me I get chills. Are you feeling okay?”
“Oh yeah, sorry about that. My body’s temperature has always been a little lower than normal.”
“A little.” Reaching out using the back of my hand I stretch up onto my tiptoes to feel his forehead. “Geez you feel like you’ve just spent the last hour in the cool room. That is not normal.”
“I’m fine, really.”
Whatever. I continue making my customer his last drink for the night. My ears prick as I hear what sounds like an angry patron out on the dance floor. Two of the bouncers leave their post at the door and head toward the large drunken idiot as he continues to upset other patrons.
“Should I go out and help them?” offers Rylan.
“Nah, it’s cool. The boys will have his ass out on the curb before long.”
Having poured the final ingredient into the last drink I’ll make tonight I return the bottle of vodka back onto the glass shelf behind me.
Once again I feel an unmistakable cold chill behind me and I know that Rylan is close and I can’t help but smile.
My smile quickly fades as I lift my arm in a conscious effort to protect myself. Rylan is standing over me with an empty beer bottle raised as if he’s about to smash it on to my head.
“What the fu-”
“Geez Kady are you alright?” Mick screams as he jumps the bar.
“I’m fine, but I’m damned if I know what this guy’s problem is?” I stare furiously at Rylan as he drops the bottle into the bin behind him.
“You should be thanking him. He just saved you from having stitches in your head.”
“That drunken asshole threw that bottle straight at your head and Rylan caught it just in the nick of time. If he hadn’t seen it coming you’d be knocked out cold right about now.”
“Um…Wow…Thank you Rylan. But how the hell did you manage to catch it so quickly?”
“I…I saw that he was gonna throw it in your direction and I managed to get to you just in time, I guess.”
“Yeah, I guess.” My suspicions of ‘what’ Rylan is grow. I dig for more information.
“Did you play baseball when you were younger?”
“No. Why would you ask me that?”
“Obviously you’re a good catcher.”
“Oh…um…quick reflexes I guess.”
“Hmm, guess so. Anyway, thanks again.”
Mick starts screaming, “The bar is now closed! Everyone needs to get their stuff and bloody-well leave!”
No one argues with Mick. He’s pretty massive and not the sort of guy you would disagree with when he’s this angry. Having a beer bottle thrown at one of his staff is a sure fire way to get him angry.
Mick, Rylan and I stay back and finish cleaning up once everyone has gone. When we’re done, all three of us sit at the bar with a cold beer in hand as we wind down for the night.
“Well Rylan, I gotta say pal you did a great job tonight. I’ll roster you on a few more shifts next week if you’re interested in coming back?” says Mick.
“Yeah that’d be great. Thanks Mick.”
“I’ll team you up with Kady. She’ll looove showing you how this place works. Won’t you Kady?”
Mick knows I’m not much of a people person, which is weird considering I work in a pub, but to me the conversations I have with people here are nice and short. No one tends to go into great detailed, lengthy conversations when they simply want to order a drink, which suits me fine.
“Yes Mick. I would looove to,” I say.
“Be nice Kady. The guy saved you from a serious head injury, remember.”
“Yeah. Thanks again Rylan. I am grateful you were able to catch that bottle before it hit me.”
“No problem. Just don’t let it happen again,” Rylan says with a wink and smile that is both cheeky and flirtatious.
“Oh would you look at the puppy dog eyes Rylan has for Kady. I’d say you’ve got yourself a loyal pet there baby girl. No offence pal,” Mick says as he punches Rylan in the shoulder.
Rylan remains unmoved by Mick’s attempt to prove that he is the more dominant male in the room. I notice Mick wince slightly as he shakes his hand. Punching Rylan must have hurt. Serves him right for shining a light on our obvious physical attraction to one another.
“None taken,” says Rylan.
Wise response considering Mick’s slightly intoxicated condition.
“Yeah I can see that Rylan will soon become as necessary to me as a stain on my favourite white t-shirt,” I say, attempting to throw Mick off the scent. Maybe now he’ll back off.
“Wow. I really don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not.” Rylan stares dumbfounded into his near empty beer bottle.
“Trust me buddy, that is about as close to a compliment from our Kady as you’re gonna get,” Mick says as he gets off his stool and gathers the days takings from the cash register. Rylan and I sit quiet for a moment. I can tell he wants to ask me something, but perhaps doesn’t quite know how to say it. He tries anyway.
“So…your name, is it Kat-?”
I cut him off before he has a chance to finish. I have suffered a lifetime of having to answer this same question over and over again.
“It’s Kady. As in K. A. D. Y. Not K. A. T. I. E.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Rylan looks as though he’s searching his long-term memory bank for a time where he may have come across my name. “It’s just I’ve never heard that name before.”
“Yeah well don’t beat yourself up over it. I’ve never heard the name Rylan before either.” I turn to face him. “What are you, all of 21 and you think you know every name in the world?”
Rylan keeps his eyes fixed on his now empty beer. He remains silent.
Mick announces that it’s time to go. His cab is here and all he wants to do now is head home. Fair enough I think, because that’s exactly where I’m headed too.
“You alright Kady?” Mick yells as he climbs into the back of the yellow cab.
“Yeah Mick, I’m just around the corner. See you next week.”
“Righto, see you two later.”
And with that Rylan and I are left alone, standing out the front of a closed bar with the cold night air stirring around us.
“Soo…” Rylan lengthens the word, perhaps in an effort to try and delay our separation as he rocks back and forth on his feet with his hands stuffed in his pockets. His cute act makes me smile, yet the lack of hot air coming out of his mouth causes me to stare curiously at his tempting lips. Is it another sign of the terrible disease he may be suffering from.
“Goodnight Rylan. No doubt I’ll see you here next week.”
“Yeah. Okay. Um do you live around here?”
“No, but I’m not too far away. My car’s around the corner.”
“Do you want me to walk you to your car?”
“No thanks Rylan. I’ll be fine.” I turn and walk away before he has the chance to get all chivalrous on me.
When I get to the corner, a mere twenty paces away, I look back to find that Rylan has already gone. I feel a little sad knowing he didn’t watch me until I was out of sight, but on the other hand I feel content knowing I will see him again next week.