Friday night- time to put the Visine, the body in the ditch, Detective Lin, all of it, out of my head and make some money. The music is up, the beer is flowing, the shots are being tossed back. The regulars are here to belt their hearts out on karaoke. Crack heads and immigrants crowd the lottery machines. Leeches look for a mark, the perfect place to stand when drinks are bought in rounds. There are even some new faces in the crowd: a few tanning bed blonds are crowded around the bar, sipping on Cosmos while their two-sizes-too-small-mixed-martial-arts-t shirt-wearing-boyfriends take turns on the punching bag machine (also known as the dick measuring stick).
Everything is going great. Sales are good. The dollars in my tip jar are piling up. The atmosphere is chill; none of the usual psychos have shown their faces. I’m carrying a tray of drinks to a table when the room goes cold and I feel the weight slip from my fingers.
I see a ghost. Celia’s ghost. At the table, waiting for her vodka cran just like the rest of the girls. They laugh and joke and she flips her hair and smiles right at me, just in time to watch me drop the tray with hers and everyone else’s drinks on it. “Oh Tina, when did you get so clumsy?”
“How?” I stutter. “Where?”… “How? I thought you were dead?” She was dead. She didn’t have a pulse. I drug her out to the ditch. “There was a detective here.” My words are slow, cautious. My hands shake as I kneel down to pick up the mess. Everyone is staring. “He said you were dead.”
“Oh my god,” she says, slamming her hands down on the table. “You’re not going to believe what happened to me!” Her words grow muffled, as if she is telling me the story from underwater. “I woke up in a ditch!” She turns and points towards the back of the bar. “That ditch! The one back there. Can you believe it? I was there the whole time. Just passed the fuck out! Tina, how drunk was I that night?”
My pulse races and my lips stammer. “I…”
The girls laugh and say things in Spanish that I don’t understand. “Exactly,” Celia says. “How much did I drink?”
I can feel the sweat collecting on my brow, pouring out of my palms. What should I say?
“The last thing I remember is sitting at the bar, talking to you…”
“You shouldn’ta server her that much,” a girl who forgot to draw her eyebrows on says. “That’s irresponsible.”
“Yeah,” another girl agrees. “Couldn’t you lose your license?”
“I…I..” I stammer again.
“Psssccchhh, chill out,” Celia laughs. “Not like I died. And I woulda been pissed if she had cut me off!”
But you did die! You were totally dead! “How… how…” There is so much glass on the floor I give up and stand. I’m going to need a broom and a dustpan. Charlie is going to be pissed. He’ll probably try to charge me for the broken glasses. But she was dead!
“How did I pass out in a ditch for like four days?” I can’t seem to say anything so I just nod. She shrugs. “I guess I was just that tired.”