This City is Eating my Bones

Jake walks in, drops his leather suitcase on the floor, and takes his coat off and rests it on the back of a chair. As he’s sitting down, the alcoholic waitress comes by with a big smile.
“Jay! So good to see you!” She takes his hand and squeezes the tip of his fingers absurdly, not letting go.
He holds onto her hand and considers how absurd it would be if he kissed it. He laughs. “Hello, Andrea! So good to see you! Did you have a nice weekend?"
“I had to work. It was okay.”
He lets go of her fingers, clicks his glasses, and grabs the menu. She scuttles away to take an order at some other table.
Tuesdays the bar is mostly empty. Four or five men in suits stand by the entrance, talking loudly, as if they owned the place. They talk in English with thick accents: German, Indian, Italian. They reek of cologne and their hair is thick with gel. Jake never liked the scent of cologne; what are you trying to hide?
A minute later a short woman shows up. “Hallo,” she says. “Waiting for someone?”
Jake regards her briefly. He doesn’t remember her. She’s younger than Andrea; probably even younger than him. Her arms are covered with tattoos. She straightens her back.
“Not today.” He reopens the menu. “Hmm. I’ll get some food.”
The waitress fishes a small notepad and a pen and looks at him at the ready.
A whiff of cigarette smoke sips in through the window and reaches his nostrils as he flips the pages. Jake is cursed with a very sensitive nose. “I’ll get a number three and a small number eighteen.”
She jots the numbers down. “Got it.”
She starts walking away but, just before entering the kitchen, turns and comes back to him. “Hmm, anything to drink?”
He smiles. “Yes, please. A Budvar.”
She fishes the notepad from her apron and straightens her back again as she writes down on the yellow pages. As she’s putting it away, she drops the pen. Jake picks it up from under the table and hands it to her.
“Entschuldigung,” she says.
Jake just smiles and nods.
Despite the suits, the bar is fairly quiet. This fits Jake, who needs to think. He feels relieved to be away from Lauren.
Lauren the hag. Out just having drinks with some friends from high school flying through town, haven’t seen them in ages. Some such.
She’ll be back very late; Jake will pretend to have found sleep despite all the noise she’ll involuntarily make trying to find her pajama in the darkness.
The young waitress brings a bottle of beer and pours half of it into a tall glass. Jake takes a sip of mostly beer foam and starts playing with the bottle, rolling it on the wood trying to match the beat of the Latin jazz coming out the speakers on the wall.
A couple in the sofa by the corner talks amiably. The woman is chubby. The man has no hair. His eyes jump suddenly from the woman’s generous cleavage to Jake. He gives Jake a cold, perhaps menacing, stare. Jake sighs silently and looks away.
A small scruffy dog passes by, smelling the floor as he drifts tiredly. Jake, who is fond of dogs, tries to get its attention but the dog ignores him and disappears behind the corner.
Looking back on Valentine’s day makes Jake’s blood rush up. How dare Lauren do that to him? He hates her. He lifts the glass to drink and the rim hits his two top front teeth. After a big sip he breaths deeply. So disappointing! Showing up drunk? Very drunk! The fuck was that?
Where did they go wrong? Is this whole bullshit his fault? He sighs and drinks more beer. Why? He is very upset. He loves her. He’s very upset.
It starts raining outside. Jake doesn’t mind the rain. It cleans the city.
Andrea walks by and sits in the chair across from Jake. “Tell me, Jay, how was your weekend?”
“Great,” he says slowly. “I read a book. Pretty interesting.”
“That’s great.” Andrea eyes him through her glasses, squinting. “I don’t really like reading but I’m glad you enjoyed it. I like audio books, though.”
Jake nods.
“I like your new haircut,” says Andrea.
“Thank you,” says Jake, and smiles.
He turns to look at the girl with the tattoos, who is now sitting behind the bar looking down into her phone, the light of the screen shinning brightly on her face. “Who is she?”
Andrea turns. “Irina? Our new waitress,” she says. "She’s friends with the owner, I think they’re family.” She leans close to Jake. “Tell you the truth, I don’t know if I like her.”
“I see.” He pours the remaining beer into the glass. Why won’t Andrea leave him to his thoughts?
“Next weekend I’m gone,” she says, gleaming. “I’m skiing in Tirol!”
“Tirol? That’s awesome,” he says, drinking his last sip.
Three men enter the bar and walk past the suits, their raincoats dripping over the tiles and leaving a trail of dark spots from the entrance to the seats they take at the bar. Irina puts her phone away and starts talking with them.
“I really need to get away,” says Andrea, ignoring them. “So much work! I need a break. I need the mountains, you know?” She sighs. “This damn city is eating my bones.”
“I hear you.” Jake looks straight into Andrea’s amber eyes, thinking of Lauren, before she stands up to go and rescue Irina.