Bullets

“How many bullets today?” only half-jokes Finn as he glumly spins the chamber of an imaginary revolver, pressing the index finger barrel to his temple.

“No bullets, no gun,” Aditya waves, already halfway through the crowd to a stool at the end of the bar.

“Really?” Finn shouts with too much surprise. “What drugs are you on?”

Aditya shrugs off the question with an easy smile, adjusts his leather coat on the seat below, and settles himself in.

The wild flashing colors of a television, a few ad execs, and ultimately a flock of shareholders beg for his gaze, but Aditya pivots his attention instead toward an invisible spot between the lanky bartender and a retro Miller sign. If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.

Did Aditya have the time? With a quick tap, he illuminated the clock on his phone and read the sequence to himself. Did time matter anyhow? With the question still fully open, Aditya calmly took in the numbing array of bottles shimmying up to the sturdy brown shelves behind the bar.

Aditya flipped open his wallet for a quick cash inventory when a twenty-something girl with dark eyes began to sob two seats over, explaining to a phantom audience about how the owner didn’t have an iPhone charger for her to use. A ten, a five, and eight singles. Aditya held the spread wallet in his hands for a spell, then returned it to his back pocket.

Just then, Finn reappeared over Aditya’s shoulder. “If we were in the ‘Phils we’d have three girls on our laps right now.” Short pause. “Want a shot?” Finn nodded silently to the bartender then pointed down at the bar with two fingers split in an upside-down ‘v’.

“Oh, I’m good,” Aditya raised his right hand in thanks but did not turn around to look at Finn. It was too late. The barkeep slid two shot glasses across the bar, spilling over with what Aditya guessed must have been bourbon. Finn downed his shot quickly then looked at Aditya, who said nothing. Finn motioned at the full shot, then back at Aditya. “No, really. I’m good,” he repeated. Finn looked around in apparent disbelief (or possibly to see if anyone was looking) then quickly tossed the second one back himself. He stood for a moment, then patted Aditya on the arm before quietly walking back to his usual spot.

The sound of police sirens whooped up in a curve outside, and for two apex seconds the bar filled with blue light. Everybody looked up from their drinks to see what was going on, but as usual, learned nothing in the process.

Aditya stood up, gathered his jacket and aimed his legs for the door. Outside on the street there was an older woman closing up her tamale stand for the night. She smiled and generously handed a bag of five to Aditya. When he reached for his wallet, the woman just laughed and winged him away.