Charles waited at the bar for the world to catch up. He waited a long time. Occasionally, a raised eyebrow directed toward the bartender resulted in another gin and tonic, expertly made, on a clean napkin near his right hand.
He studied a poster near the door describing upcoming concerts. He was not familiar with any of the bands listed. One band name, An Electric Blue Suitcase, caught his attention, but he quickly deemed them unworthy of further attention due to their poor name choice. He returned to waiting.
The bartender was a good one and correctly sized up Charles’ desire for solitude. Or more correctly, desire for oblivion. Sleep would have been preferable – how nice it would be to just wake up and find the waiting over. But sleep had been elusive over the past few nights.
Two college-aged girls arrived and sat at the bar a few seats from Charles. Their contrast with the rest of the clientele, which consisted of Charles and one quiet couple in a booth, was striking enough to be mildly interesting. The quiet ambiance in the bar did not normally attract a youthful crowd. However, his interest fizzled after Charles noticed their rather juvenile matching friendship bracelets and witnessed their competitive flirtations with the bartender.
The couple in the booth paid their bill and left. A busboy appeared and cleared their table. A ceiling fan clicked overhead. The college girls conferred with the bartender about drink choices. Complex tequila cocktails garnished with chili peppers were ordered. Charles considered the shallowness of the originator of such a cocktail. The consideration was brief.
Time passed. At a certain hour, carefully determined through countless cell phone apps and marketing studies, the music genre changed from mellow to energetic. The inside lighting dimmed subtly. Streetlights came on outside. The college girls left. Other people came and went.
Charles waited at the bar.