“What Happened At Drake’s”

by Lukas Tallent

—Now, my dear, tell me what you saw.

—There were fireworks in their eyes, and smoke from their mouths hovered visibly in the room. They both had drinks, brightly-colored and in tall fizzy glasses. He was talking to her, and she was leaning forward, her arms on the table, taken it seemed. The others in the bar were lost in their own dramas and excuses and relaxers and sports games and chicken wings and sliders and sushi and—

—That’s enough about the food. Tell me, my dear, what did you hear?

—Moans and sighs and laughter, but from their table:

“Would you like something…more expensive?”

“Or alcoholic, you mean?”

“Yes, that’s typically the case.”

She paused and looked to the ceiling.

“I’m trying to not do something stupid.”


“Like tell you about my last boyfriend, or go home with you.”

—Oh, my dear, what did you think?

—It wasn’t stupid. I thought about Greg and Amanda, about how he jumpstarted my car that night at McDonald’s and how she said I could do so much better, how everyone thought we would get together someday, then I thought about where we all are now and how far that is from what we wanted, and I thought I might ought to order something expensive.

—Poor dear, what did you smell?

—Smoke and sauces and lingering antiperspirant, the bartender, his glossy red hair and beard, matted with sweat, had damp stains under his arms as he shoveled ice into more of the tall glasses and poured from the silver shaker over the ice and slid the result in front of me.

“Try that.”

—And what about the taste, my dear?

—Bitter and sweet and cold and fruity and fizzy and warm and . . . suddenly, the bartender was no longer six foot tall, but knee-height and wearing a green coat and raspberry beret. We weren’t in the bar but standing on the edge of a cliff, so high we couldn’t see the bottom for the clouds. He said, “I am the Beave, if you can believe, and you are nothing more than a sieve.”

—My dear, what did you feel?

—The condensation on my glass, still cold, and . . . on the precipice. “You must choose,” the Beave said, “no one is going to ask you to go further, no one is here to push you,” and with that, he checked his watch and wrinkled his nose, and once again we were in the bar, and my drink was gone, and the bartender came over to ask if I was ready close out.

I nodded. He went to find my card.

The couple were long gone. I imagined that he helped her into her coat, and maybe she let him hold her hand as they left, but really, from there, it was whatever you wanted to make of them.


Lukas Tallent lives in New York City. His work has recently appeared in Door is A Jar, Maudlin HouseBright Flash Literary Review, and many other places. You can find more of him at lukas-tallent.com.

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