The train whistle blew in the background, some of them were settling in for the night on the tracks by the steak house. I walked home from the bar, the neon lights of downtown fading as I passed the street signs counting down the blocks until I was home. The streets are quiet this time of year, that is until the river clears. Then rented out suburbans and drift boats being pulled behind anything with a hitch will fill the streets. Tourists will flock to the bar and sit between raccoon-faced fishing guides.
I always was nervous about meeting with you. Sometimes I’d walk past where we were meeting just to calm myself and work up to saying hello. Or I’d sit at the bar, my eyes rising from my drink only to see if the cowboy hat that just walked in was you. I always left wishing I would have said something else, maybe anything else, than what I did. Some days we were full of confidence, having fun and challenging each other, other days we’d trip over our words, and the other days we were broken down and vulnerable. We never knew what we were getting into.
We’d sit perched up on barstools watching the bands play. Sometimes lost in the music or my own thoughts you’d quickly snap me back to reality. I’d roll my eyes over onto you and try to hear what you had to say over the music. I’d nod my head, but mostly I was just looking at you, taking it all in. It’s a shame you have such a reputation.
Weeks would go by with no contact only to be broken by late nights spent out spinning across the dance floor. Cowboy boots on the weekends and Chacos during the week, we’d sweep across those old wooden floors, spending hours on games of pool and seeing who would outlast who as the bottle of Maker’s ran low.
I walked away. You called my name and I turned around. Among the torn up roads and a few wandering late night bar patrons, you stood there. You gave me some final imparting wisdom. The neon bar signs were getting shut off, and with that final one, you all but disappeared.