The rain was coming down hard as he ran from the cab to the awning over the bar, he tried shielding himself with a folded newspaper. It always seemed so much more effective when he saw it done in the movies. In real life not only did you still ended up with wet hair, only now your newspaper was ruined too. He paused at the door and tried to shake some of the water off his coat. He didn’t feel quite as certain about his plans as he did this morning but, this was his chance. If he didn’t have this meeting now it might take weeks to set up a new one. He took a deep breath and chucked his sodden newspaper into a trash can, it was time to commit and hope for the best.
The inside of the bar was comfortable and familiar, in a generic tavern for the business man sort of way. Warm earth tones and wood veneer accented with brass surrounded a quiet clientele. He took off his coat and neatly folded it over one arm. Using in the mirror behind the bar he straightened his tie, and smoothed his damp black hair; he hadn’t noticed how long it was getting, or how grey. For a moment he met the gaze of his own reflection and felt as if he were lost.
He shook the cobwebs from his head and walked around the bar and took a seat next to a weary and hollow looking young man. He flagged the barman and ordered a beer. He couldn’t help but notice that the man next to him wore nearly the same suit as he did. The exception being that the younger man’s seemed to have seen more use and had begun to fade from repeated dry cleanings, and his neck tie was loosened and a different pattern.
“Can I help you with something pal?” his neighbor asked, noticing the brief scrutiny.
“Just think I found the only guy that the world’s working over harder than me. You look like you had a rough day.”
“They’re all rough,” the man said lighting a cigarette. “Don’t see why today’d be any different.” He shrugged and returned his gaze to the television.
“You’re a hockey fan I take it.”
The young man shrugged. “It’s what’s on.”
“My dad used to take me to the Devils games back when they played in The Meadowlands. God they sucked back then but, they were ours.” He took a long sip off his beer.
“Jersey huh, you’re a ways from home.”
“Came out here a few years ago for a job, wich never amounted to much more than an ulcer. Now the company’s gone tit’s up. I’m out of a job, supposed to be meeting a buddy of mine with a line on a new one,” He pulled out his phone and checked the screen. “He’s late and not answering my texts, guess I got stood up.” He finished his beer and set the glass on the bar, pushing it forward so the barman would notice it. “Story of my life. How about you?”
“I help manage my family’s business, imports mostly.”
“What kind of imports?”
“Whatever. I just make sure the paperwork gets done. I can’t talk details, client confidentiality stuff.” The younger man blew out a long stream of smoke and put his own glass next to the empty beer mug. He waved to fingers over both glasses to signal for another round.
“Yeah I know how that confidentiality stuff is I work, well worked in financials. Hedge funds and such. Thanks for the drink.”
“No problem, anything for an out of work hockey enthusiast. Name’s Pete Maslow,” the haggard man said smiling slightly. “Pleased to meet you, Mr.?”
“Standish, Jerome Standish,” he replied shaking the offered hand. “Everyone calls me Jerry.”