Have you ever heard of the bandoneon?
It’s an instrument that messes with your head, a kind of accordion, a lethal mental weapon for the emotionally inclined.
…I’m standing at the bar.
The bartender’s giving me that look and polishing the glasses just a bit too long. They already have a nice shine on them. He’s been polishing them since the last hard drinker left.
Yeah, that’s me. Drinking alone. No-one to share the pain.
Raindrops on the window turn to fireflies in the street light. The darkest hour’s heading my way. Midnight packed her bags a while back and I’m still staring at my glass, like I was then. Just after she left.
It’s half empty, the glass.
I flick open the pack of cigarettes and put the last but one to my lips. Joe the Bar strikes a match, quick as a bolt of lightning. OK, so that bit was pure imagination. A guy can’t smoke in a bar any more, no matter what life just chucked at him.
I throw back the other half and the glass makes a sound like a taut drum on the hard wood. The bartender raises an eyebrow. I shake my head. Enough’s enough, even when your girl’s walked out into the cold dark night leaving your heart still beating – just.
The bandoneon plays on.
And I get back to reality. A woman, well past any flush of youth. Yeah, different flushes now. Thinks she can see inside the head of a man, at a bar, with a drink, in a novel by Raymond Chandler. Or Georges Simenon. As if.
Damn that bandoneon.