That Tie?

A Brief Encounter | April 11, 2021

She looked at him kind of intently, kind of smiling, with a little anticipation. And he could tell she was waiting for him to better connect some flecks of wayward dots.

They didn’t waver eyes and he started to smile, though he felt it better to keep her poker face. At the same time, he could feel his peripheral gaze wander toward the bartender hoping to silently beckon for two more stouts, knowing each degree of gaze away wouldn’t help matters any.

“The tall guy,” he said.

“No,” she said.

He blushed a little and couldn’t help but laugh a little. But he knew it was decreasingly funny and twilight cute.

“He’d been up all night,” she explained, “and he showed up around eleven? And his mom had just died that night. And he was still in his painters’ clothes from Friday afternoon. And he was heading toward the wake.”

She let that volley loft. Eventually, it landed in the gravel.

“I don’t. – I don’t think I really remember.”

She looked back at him with a little as if.

And he could kind of see her blue eyes dim. Two more British thermal pints arrived and he started to lift his glass to his sips, then thought better of it.

“Anyway,” she said, “you told him, ‘You can’t go to your mom’s wake like that.’ And you went home and got him a shirt and a tie.”

He tried to recall. Could feel finger flipping card catalogues flicking through his wayback machine. “Yeah.”

“I think I do remember,” he said. “Must have been right after my mom passed.”

But he didn’t.

And she looked more directly at him before withdrawing it a bit. Some half-drunk morning in some steel-heart bar. Something she tried to believe about him, even in those in-between years when they barely knew each other. Something a little gossamer. Now gone.

“Anyway,” she said. “You brought him a shirt. You gave him a ride to the wake. And you tied his tie for him.”

He held up his pint. She returned the gesture. But didn’t clink.

“Anyways,” she said. “That’s what I heard.”

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