On St. Patrick’s Day a bartender, clad in cartoons, sold a bottle of Guinness to a man in a colorful sombrero.
“I can’t open that here,” she said, her face drawn and older than it should be. “I can sell it but I can’t open it. And you’ll have to go outside to drink it. You can’t drink it here.”
The man turned the bottle in his hand as if searching its label for advice.
“I thought it’d be more lively in here,” he said. Two seats down sat the only other person in the bar who forlornly spun a quarter on a plate in front of him.
In the corner a television blared with red-faced men arguing about diseases and pandemics.
The bartender shrugged. “You can open it with a lighter.” She fished one from her pocket. “Just take the edge and press it under the cap. I can’t do it for you, but it’s easy.”
“I don’t have a lighter,” said the sombrero man.
“Who doesn’t have a lighter?” asked the bartender.
The quarter clattered on the plate two seats away.
The bartender scratched the back of her head. The tattoo on the inside of her forearm said “Saucy Unicorn.”
She reached forward and dropped her lighter into the front pocket of the sombrero man’s Hawaiian shirt.
“I take tips,” she said.
The sombrero man paid, tipped five dollars, and left. Outside, he adjusted the edge of the lighter under the bottle’s cap. After a few tries, wiggling back and forth, the cap popped off.
He took a sip, and in the middle of a deserted street with shuttered restaurants and empty bars all around him, he felt like a hero.
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