Stories

Manhattan – Jack Ludkey

He was at the bar.
Tall. 
Dark.
Handsome.
Just my type.
He was drinking a Manhattan.
A real man’s drink.

He was  sort of near some people but no one looked at him at all. 
It was like he wasn’t there.
I sat next to him and pretended to read my book about grief.
Buy you a drink?
Sure.
What do you want?
I’ll have what you’re having.
Easy.
He passed me his drink.
Which was strange.
I laughed.
I’m rich and famous and you probably never heard of me.
Oh really, what’s your name?
My name is really uninteresting. It’s probably the least interesting thing about me.
Okay, then what’s the most interesting thing about you?
Nothing really, besides my fame and wealth and good looks.
Ah that is interesting.
It’s actually quite banal.
Well for you.
Well that’s what really matters.
What about me?
Well I don’t really care about you.
Were you born in a barn?
That’s disgusting.
I’m calling you rude.
Oh okay.
I sipped the drink which was syrupy and I could barely taste the alcohol.
There aren’t roofies in this right?
Well I only put in enough for me so you’ll be okay, maybe a little sleepy.
If you’re so famous, why are you in this bar alone staring holes in the wall?
I was just spending a small amount of my vast wealth on a tasty treat.
This? I lifted the Manhattan.
Yes.
And that was the whole plan?
Well then I was gonna wait until someone recognized me and then I could tell them they’re wrong. 
I’m not famous or wealthy.
I am actually really boring and not fun to talk to.
I sat in silence pondering this banal, rich, famous man.
I got another drink, he got one too. He opened a tab which was a good sign.
The night passed on around us. The ebb and flow of the bar patrons provided little interest; some kids played pool in the back.
I wish we had talked about something interesting but really we didn’t talk about anything at all.
Why are you famous?
I have no idea.
That seems nice, not having to work.
Yeah it’s banal though.
Banal huh?
Yeah.
I’ve heard that before.
Me too.
Well you aren’t very charming and honestly, I don’t think you’re famous.
Well that’s okay. Your opinion doesn’t affect my reality. You can leave now and I’ll still be rich and famous and handsome and tall and dark and handsome.
Aren’t rich people supposed to have friends and wear nice clothes?
You don’t like my clothes?
Well you kind of look like an annoying waiter.
I hate waiters.
Why?
Too eager to please.
I liked to be pleased.
Let’s agree to disagree.
Okay.
Where do you live?
Down the street in a really nice fancy apartment.
That’s nice. I live in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn?
Yeah.
Where’s that?

He was joking but he was a good actor and looked baffled. His forehead crinkled between his eyebrows and he squinted his eyes a little. His eyes were dark and not as handsome as his face.
 I laughed.

It’s across the Bridge.
Which one?
All of them.
Ahh.
Never been?
I don’t really go out much.
But you’re out right now.
That’s a good point. I should really head home.
Aren’t you gonna try to seduce me.
No.
Okay well take me to your fancy apartment my rich and famous friend.
Friend?
Lover?
He paused for a second and looked at his watch which was silver and sort of tacky.
Sure.
On the street it smelled like fish.
I smoked a cigarette and he buzzed the building.
He was buzzing every apartment in the place multiple times.
4R5R6R3F2R6F4R
I looked at him and he shrugged.
You don’t have a doorman?
I don’t even have a door.
Why can’t you get into your apartment?
I felt a little drunker than I should have but I was enjoying it.
It’s a complicated code to keep out riff raff. Lots of drunks and homeless people.
They’re rather dangerous this time of year.
The door buzzed,
“Hallo?’”
The word was more of a grunt.
Doordash.
Said the famous man.
Okay. Okay.
The door buzzed and he opened it. Letting me in.
Ladies first.
Sure.
The concrete stairs looked greasy and there was a bunch of random shit in the halls.
I live on the top floor.
Sure. I said, trying to believe him.
We walked all the way up the stairs and opened a door that set off an alarm.
The sky was a light green from the gas or the stars or something like that.
This is the roof.
Do you want a drink?
He had somehow taken the double Manhattan from the bar.
You aren’t rich and famous. You are just some creep.
That’s not true. Stop calling me a liar.
It’s okay to be a liar.
He sipped the Manhattan which was melting fast in his hands
It doesn’t smell as bad up here.
Yeah. 
The stairs keep out the riff raff.
I smiled but he wasn’t joking.