Joseph’s head rested between his forearm and bicep, on the bar. He refused to look again at the cell phone smushed against the side of his leg, inside his jeans pocket. He longed for the days when he hadn't owned a cell phone.
She’ll either come or she won’t, he thought. It’s open mic night and people will play music and either she’ll be here or she won’t. I’ll be on this barstool or in the bathroom but I won’t be anywhere else until I’m in bed and that’s all there is to it.
Joseph raised his head, squinted, made a fist and stuck up his thumb and then lowered it toward his empty glass, as if his hand were a bottle.
The bartender poured and he eyed his drink as some guys breezed in and sat at a corner table. A new, buzzing undercurrent began to flow throughout the bar, a sort of lo-fi hum of blended conversations rising in volume. Joseph felt it hypnotize him.
“I think they opened for Radiohead in Camden tonight,” he overheard the young lady to his left try to whisper.
“They know one of the guys who cooks here,” someone else mumbled.
“Hi there!” It was Annabeth’s voice, she came after all. How much time had passed?
“Hi,” he said, expressionless, suddenly at ease.
“Did you get my texts?”
“Oh, sorry, no. Drink?”
“How was your evening?”
Annabeth laughed, shook her head.
He thought of asking what she’d been doing, why she didn’t come sooner. But all he said was, “It’s got a nice ring when you laugh.”
“You got any extra guitars we could borrow?” one of the guys from the corner table who looked vaguely familiar to Joseph, tall and lean, asked the bartender. The answer was an emphatic “yes.” Soon open mic night was over, transformed into a surprise mini-concert seen and heard through a haze of smoke and booze fueled giddiness.
Joseph awoke the next day unsure of whether it had all been a dream, but Annabeth reassured him.
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