Daily Archives: March 30, 2021

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Fish Tale by Dianna Sinovic

March 30, 2021 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic

Two months into the job, and Cordi knew every regular’s preferred beverage. She could sift the deadbeats from the barflies who had dough, and had memorized The Bartender’s Guide, from the Apple Martini to the White Knight. Mostly, she poured and listened. 

Photo by Arthur Goldstein on Unsplash

The Flying Fish did a brisk business at dinner of seafood and burgers, and then stayed open until two with a part-time night cook in the kitchen for late-hour snacks. Cordi worked the Thursday-Friday late shift, the shift with the best tips. 

“Fish and rings tonight, Skip?” Cordi set a frosty glass of ale in front of her favorite regular. He might be fifty—or eighty. She didn’t know, and at twenty-two, anyone older than thirty seemed ancient. Skip Jowett’s beard was more salt than pepper, and he wore a battered captain’s hat, the only remnant left, he said, of his long years skippering a fishing boat off the Jersey Shore. He was quiet. Even as the hours passed and he asked for yet another tall one, he never grew belligerent – or fell asleep, spilling his drink.

“How about the halibut?” He was more somber than she’d seen him.

 “Everything okay?” 

 He waved her away. “Fine, fine. Tell Drew I want the fish extra crispy. And the onion rings, too.”

 After passing on the order to the kitchen, Cordi switched her attention to the others at the bar but kept an eye on Skip. He sipped his ale and watched the basketball game, but he was distant, distracted. 

Drew’s fish platter momentarily brightened Skip’s face. He pushed his ale aside, tucked a napkin into his polo shirt, and with a wink at Cordi, got down to business. 

“If you want to talk, I’m here,” she said. “Scout’s honor, whatever’s bothering you stays here. It’s like client privilege, for barkeeps. We don’t gossip.” Then she walked away, to let him think it over. 

At a quarter to midnight, Skip finally motioned to her. 

“Another Belgian?”

He shook his head. “I’ve had enough, too much probably.” He placed a fifty on the smooth wood. “That should cover it.”

Cordi put her hand on his, feeling the roughness of the skin, the prominent veins. “You need me to call a cab?”

The clink of glasses and the roar of the crowd on the TV filled the silence he let linger. “In a few minutes, I’ll have been married forty-five years. That’s a lifetime. Tomorrow she’s going into hospice. Hell of a way to celebrate an anniversary.”

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