It's two hours past closing and he's still here. It's like this every night. They break down the bar, hose the mats, do the register, count tips, then sit like idiots drinking beer until the sun comes up. Free beer is the one and only perk to this job. That and the girls. But the girls are too young now. It's so easy to be a hero in a college town. He graduated six years ago, and he's still here bartending in the place he used to bus tables when he was in school. Back then the bartenders seemed so cool, above the fray. That wore off a couple of years ago. Now he's just stuck.
The one girl in town he likes thinks he's pathetic. She runs with her dog and studies hard. He sees her from his canoe circling the lake with the dog. She's not long for this town.
He is pathetic. He sleeps all day, fishes, then comes into work at 9. By then the place is starting to fill up, and by 11 it's packed. Every single night. Life in a college town. It's hard to resist that role: the kind and sexy purveyor of alcohol. "Whaddya need tonight?" Little smile. That's all it takes. These kids love him, these future bankers of America, future bankers' wives. They're all assholes.
Tonight he's had enough. It's time for something different. It's four a.m. and he's had several semi-clean water glasses full of Guiness. He's going for a run. He stashed his stuff in the staff bathroom when he got to work last Tuesday, but this is the night he's really going out. He pushes himself up from the four-top at the back of the bar and sluffs back to change.
"Night, Marty. Night, Kate," he says to the other bartenders who sit with their feet up flipping through the channels on the sports TV.
Marty looks up, takes in the running shoes and shorts. "Where you going?"
"I'm going for a run, dickwad. Obviously."
"Jesus Christ. It's the middle of the fucking night."
"Yeah. I'm awake. No traffic."
"Have fun, Danny," Kate says, stumping out a cigarette. "I think it's great." Kate's about 40, a living breathing example of everything Dan is starting to fear. She's like a mother to these kids. A mother who mixes killer drinks.
He steps down to the sidewalk. The moon is falling behind the football stadium and the dorm across the street is dark. He has the night to himself.