Forty-seven. That was exactly how many glasses Jeremy had broken since his job as head bartender began all those months ago. He approximated that seven or so of those glasses had broken for normal reasons; the outside of the glass had been damp, a serving tray had slipped. He had swung around and, in a moment of uncharacteristic spacial unawareness, had knocked a delicate chalice to the floor. But those were not the reasons for the other forty. The other forty he knocked up to something that he referred to as ‘clientele hazards.’
Clientele hazards, a phrase Jeremy was careful to use only inside his own mind, encompassed all of the many unusual patrons that frequented Ducante’s. If he had known when he had applied all of those months ago how many secrets the bar had, he would have never showed up for the first interview. Jeremy didn’t like knowing all of the things that he knew about the bar, mostly because they were also things that he then knew about the world. And for his part, he liked his world exactly the way it had been several months ago, thank-you-very much.
Those had been simpler times. His biggest fear after sundown was coming out of work with a parking ticket. And work! It had been a dull job, but bar-backing at the local restaurant chain was easily more lucrative than pouring drinks at Ducante’s. Between his shaky attitude blowing his chance at any big tips and his constant penchant for breaking glasses, Jeremy was lucky if he brought home any money at all. He supposed he could call it luck that he hadn’t been fired yet, but he wasn’t sure that ‘luck’ was quite the right term. The only time the issue had been raised had been when he himself had brought it up to Maya: she had just shrugged and told him calmly,
“You’ll get used to it.”
The thought made a line of sweat break out across his brow line. At least for now, the bar remained blessedly empty save for himself and Jason, the bouncer. Jason always insisted on coming in early and leaving late, something that Jeremy never complained about. The bouncer had a strong, calming presence that the frazzled nerves of the bartender appreciated.
Jeremy took a deep breath and carefully began unloading glasses from the still steaming dishwasher, wiping each one dry as he set it on the counter. At one of the gleaming tables, Jason was flipping through the Molten Review, the lackluster town paper. Every now and again he would pause, yawn, and glance around the bar.
At one of these such moments, the bouncer found his gaze moving to the door that he spent the night standing outside of. “Hey, Jeremy? Would you know where there’s a bottle of WD-40 around here? That door’s been squeaking.”
“Oh, yeah!” Jeremy said. There was a strange feeling that he assumed might have been happiness, or even pride, at knowing the answer to something. At being useful. He went to simultaneously grab two of the wet glasses while also stepping out from behind the bar to gesture at the supply closet when it happened: the beginning of his forty-eighth break.
One of the shining glasses slipped through his fingers, tumbling towards the floor. Across the room, Jason stood up sharply from his seat. It clattered to the floor behind him as he raised one arm, bringing it down in a strange, inverted bell curve.
The glass, a mere inch from the ground, stopped abruptly in mid air, where it hovered effortlessly in space.
Smash. Several inches to the right, the other glass that Jeremy had been holding did what the first had been threatening and shattered across the hardwood.