My Girl Katie
It wasn't my habit to drink after class. But my calculus mid-term was a ball buster. I slammed my books on the bar and demanded a draft. Sloshing it down, I was wiping the foam from my mustache when I spied him sitting at the end of the bar slouched over a mug of brew, eyes half closed, ready to nod off. Spotting me, he perked up.
Grabbing his mug with one filthy hand and gliding the other along the bar for balance, the guy stumbled over. Wonderful! As he crashed into the seat next to me, a whiff of body odor and stale beer filled my nostrils. I couldn't tell if his jacket was camouflage or simply olive with splotches of colorful grime decorating it. His bird's nest hair was black sprinkled with gray, longer than it should be if he never intended to comb it. The lines of his face dragged down. I wondered if he had a perpetually sad face or if the alcohol made it droop. Perhaps both.
"Well, look at you!" he said, eyeing my textbooks, his words drenched in sarcasm. "So you go to the university." A dissatisfied grunt ended the remark. I didn't answer, so he spoke again. "My daughter goes to the university."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah." He took a long gulp, then slammed the mug down. His eyes, tragic and pleading, met mine. "I haven't seen her for ages. She never calls just to say hello. You know, a little friendly conversation."
Small wonder, I thought.
"Do you know what she gives me for Father's Day every year?"
"I'm sure you'll tell me."
"Nothing. No card. Nothing. She doesn't even call." He belched. "You can forget Christmas, too. Shit! Ain't seen her in years." His head drooped, and in the ensuing silence, I wondered if he'd dozed off.
The bartender appeared. "Hey, McBride! You want a refill?"
His head rose. "You bet I want a refill."
I was still thinking about the name, McBride. "Say, Mister, is your daughter's name Katie?"
A smile spread across his face. "Yes sir! That's my girl."
Katie McBride, the most brilliant and popular student I knew. A true success story if ever I'd seen one, destined to be a lawyer to be reckoned with. Everyone knew Katie McBride, a legend in the making. I dated her once, and when I asked about her family, she said she had none.
"Do you know her? Could you tell her to call her old man once in a while?" When I didn't answer, he scowled. "Ah, you're right. She's better off without me."
Maybe so, old-timer. I don't know.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski