This seat taken?

(Written maybe fifteen years ago.)

The bar was all bad lighting and red vinyl and drinkers who knew their booze. The bartendress would whip up concoctions no one had ever hard of for some odd drunk. I strode in and heard the tinkle of a jazz piano. saw plenty of empty stools and one lady, a redhead looking sad, completely miserable, and silent. She nursed a beer. I pulled up right next to her. This seat taken? I actually said that. She rolled her eyes and shrugged. I sat down. Began with uninvited small talk. No response. More small talk. A joke. Nothing. But I kept at it, and after ten minutes she began nodding to my questions. A crack of a smile to a stupid joke. I mentioned dinner. Nothing. Can I buy you dinner? Still nothing. I worked on that angle for a while. Finally she nodded a maybe. Bartendress brought menus. Anything you want, lobster, anything. She looked, finally after some encouragement ordered an entree. I ordered an appetizer. It was her favorite, a shrimp cocktail, and when it came, she selected a shrimp from the serving dish, dunked it in the cocktail sauce, and nibbled at it. She smiled and said that piano player is really good. He was, and that married fight was over.

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