Countdown to Romance

By Glen Donaldson

“10, 9…”

“Well, I’m not sure.”

“8, 7…”

“That’s a difficult question.”

“6, 5, 4…”

“I mean I like both.”

“3, 2…”

“I can’t decide really.”

“1.”

Amid the din of the trendy SERENDIPITY bar, silence like the centre of a hurricane enveloped them both. “Could this get any suckier?” Lenny wondered to himself. Sitting opposite him was his first-meeting date Willow. She’d said she was 27. She was not only wearing awkward like it was her own exclusive fashion label but by now had taken to incessant hair-twirling.

Unable to cope with her one-after-the-other series of non-committal and downright evasive answers to his thoroughly researched list of sure-fire ice-breaking first-date questions, Lenny stood up and walked to the bar, arms swinging by his sides every step of the way.

“Give me one Old Fashioned with cracked ice and an extra olive.” He leaned against the counter while chancing a look back at his table to see if her eyes had followed him there. They hadn’t.

“10, 9, 8…”

So frustrated had he become, this second countdown wasn’t confined to his head like the first but was audible.

“Would Sir prefer that made with bourbon or rye whiskey?”

“7, 6, 5…”

The barman with the rolled up sleeves and hipster’s beard looked puzzled for a moment and then inquired as politely as he could –

“Why the counting?”

“4, 3, 2…”

Uncharacteristically, Lenny decided to interrupt himself. Sensing a captive audience, he placed an elbow on the countertop while being careful to avoid the yet-to-be-dabbed water rings, leant in and tried his best to explain.

“If I tell, do you promise to keep it to yourself?”

“Your secret’s safe with me sir.”

“When I get frustrated I start counting.”

“I couldn’t help notice sir’s date didn’t seem to be going smoothly”.

“That obvious was it? Oh, and let’s make that drink with truth-serum bourbon shall we?”

At that the barman commenced a choreographed set of moves that began with pulling an upside down stem glass from the rack above his head. While that was happening Lenny took the opportunity to look back to the corner table.  Willow, Wendy or whatever she’d said her name was was by now busily talking into her mobile phone. She looked well on her way to dusting herself off and ‘regrouping’ after the evening’s letdown.

When Lenny looked back next, his “truth serum” was ready waiting for him. There was also something else next to it:  a piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it.

“My sister’s single” said the barman, starting to use a white cloth to polish shot glasses in the customary manner. “She’s a university maths professor: a real whiz with numbers. Your counting won’t bother her a bit. In fact, she might even like it.”

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Glen Donaldson believes the life of a writer has its prose and cons but the job of an editor is probably more rewording. If whack like that strikes you as even a little nerdiculous best not to go anywhere near his two mad-o-wat blogs – Scenic Writer’s Shack and Lost in Space Fireside.

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