I looked around for Jay. He was nowhere in sight, so I took a seat at the bar.
“He’s in the other room, talking with Oliver,” one of the bartenders said. “What’ll be?”
“The same as my cousin.”
He put a bottle of Corona on the bar. I took a long sip, and then I began to slowly peel off the label.
A few moments later, Jay came out through a double door. His tie was undone and his white shirt, all plastered around his body, had its sleeves rolled up to the elbows. His face was swollen, and a rugged beard went all the way up from his Adam’s apple to his cheekbones, close to his eyes. It was as if he were trying to choke himself to death with his own facial hair. We shook hands.
“What? You’re a king now?” Jay shouted as he took a seat next to me. He pointed at my hands. I smiled sheepishly and looked down and noticed that I still had my gloves on. I took them off.
“Sorry,” I muttered. We shook hands again.
It felt strange sitting there at the bar, with Jay staring out at me like a doctor inspecting a newborn baby. “Did you go to the bank?” he asked.
“Let’s hope things are going to change,” Jay said.
“Yeah, let’s hope.”
He eyed me sullenly. “What’s with this thing your father told me about? You’re going to Paris?”
“I’m leaving tonight,” I said.
He glanced at the bartender and raised his hand in the air. “Give me another beer.”
“I have to see her,” I said staring at people’s shapes quivering across the mirror’s cold surface.
He looked back at me and eyed me with a profound mime, his face contorted into a web of wrinkles, as if he wished to see through my skull and into my brain. Finally, he said, “I know, Chris, I know…” Then he took a long drink from his beer. He put the bottle down on the bar and shook his head violently. “I miss her too. Don’t think that I don’t.”