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Tad wiped the top of the bar at the Regal Beagle, absently dipping his rag in to the sink filled with tepid water and a few squirts of lemon-lime scented Palmolive. As he looked around at the empty tables, he could almost make out the outlines, like ghosts, of the regulars who had gone home for the night to their quiet, hidden lives.
There was Jack. Jack was one of Tadís favorite customers. Jack was a real comedian. But Tad knew when Jack went home, when he was lying in bed at night without an audience, how he was haunted by his passion to be a chef. Jack didnít talk much about it. But Tad noticed that look in Jackís eye whenever he mentioned cooking. He knew what it meant.
And Chrissy, beautiful Chrissy. At first Tad had wanted to sleep with Chrissy. But that was before he had a chance to know her. He felt ashamed for stereotyping her in such a demeaning, unimaginative way. Chrissy had a genuine innocence that no amount of wit or irony could ever match. Tad wondered what dreams Chrissy was dreaming tonight.
He was glad she had Janet. She could be a stickler, but what an inspiration. Janet had so much going for her Ė bright, intelligent, a real self-starter. Yet, she finds more joy in a simple arrangement of flowers then she does in the gray pursuit of a 9 to 5 career.
And there was Mrs. Roper. What an amazing woman. But Tad worried about her. He couldnít imagine what it must be like for a mature woman so full of life to be in a marriage petrified by routine. She had one foot in the stultifying 50s, and another in the sexually revolutionized 80s. Tad wished her husband would be nicer to her.
A thunderclap echoed in the valley, rousing Tad from his ruminations. A heavy rain pitter-pattered on the windows making a rare, almost mysterious music in the dry South Californian climate. Tad rang the rag out in the sink and slung it over a stool. It didnít look like it would let up anytime soon. It didnít mater. Tad was in no rush to go home.
The next morning a million Lon Angelinos would get a free car wash. It would make them a little happier, Tad thought, and that must count for something.
Date Written: September 10, 2004
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