Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(10)

By: Ingrid Reinke

“Oh. Well,” I faltered, struggling for a graceful out. I most definitely did not like Jagermeister. “I like it OK,” I lied, “but I don’t usually do shots during the week, you know, with work and all. Do you mind if I just have another glass of wine instead?”

“That’s cool. Hey bartender! Bartender! Can we get some drinks over here?”

I cringed as Jonah casually committed the cardinal sin of yelling and snapping his fingers at a member of the wait staff. As the bartender slowly approached us with an air of barely masked disdain, I stared down at my napkin in horror.

“Another wine for this lovely lady, and I’ll have a whiskey Coke please.”

At this moment I was getting the feeling that there was a small possibility that the date was close to completely falling off of a cliff. Jonah’s buzz, while undeniably upbeat, was absolutely not sexy. In fact, the way he was acting had created a certain dryness down in my lady bits that I could only compare to a mid-summer’s day in the Gobi desert. I felt certain that not only would we not be going home together, but that we would probably never see each other again after tonight if the date continued down this particularly boozy path.

While the bartender poured our drinks I tried to catch his eye so I could mouth the words “I’m sorry” while Jonah wasn’t looking.

Jonah’s whiskey coke went down even faster than his previous glasses of wine. The whiskey seemed to do its job, and within twenty minutes, Jonah had officially veered away from serious buzz territory and was heading straight into fall down drunk land. He was now talking excitedly about the Seahawks upcoming season, but I couldn’t really follow as I was trying to avoid getting sprayed by the flecks of saliva shooting out of his mouth and onto my face, boobs and hands. As he swayed in his barstool the warning bells going off in my head were dinging and donging at a deafening volume. Things would have been better if we were actually eating dinner, as promised, but to my dismay Jonah hadn’t touched the menu, which was becoming a huge problem for me. Because I hadn’t eaten a snack after the gym, my hunger was quickly moving into the desperate state that I like to call “hanger” (obviously an excruciating combination of hunger combined with irrational anger). When I suggested that we order appetizers, Jonah half-heartedly scanned the menu, and then seemed to forget about it. Then, quite abruptly, he excused himself to the men’s room again.

Geez, I thought, this guy either has the runs or the smallest bladder in the world. I sat at the bar by myself, sipping my second glass of pinot grigio, and waited for him. Five minutes went by, then ten. The bartender was eyeing me suspiciously. He kept stopping by and filling up my water. I think he assumed that my date had taken off and was making sure I didn’t skip out as well without taking care of the substantial bar tab. Feeling fidgety and uncomfortable, I pulled out my phone again to see if I had gotten a response back from Alex. Nope. It was only seven-thirty, so I guessed she was out on one of her twenty-plus mile daily bike rides. Damn it! What is going on with this guy?

When Jonah emerged from the men’s room and began approaching the bar a few minutes later, I got my answer. He was not only really twitchy but had seemed to have developed a full-blown head cold over the last few minutes. His eyes were red and watering and he had a mean case of the sniffles. I would’ve asked him if he was feeling all right had I not noticed when he sat back down that there was a substantial, crusty, white cocaine booger precariously lodged in the inside of his left nostril.

“How’s it going over here sexy lady?” The booger quivered violently as he spoke, threatening to evacuate his nose and land in a gooey mess on the bar. I shuddered, planning my escape route.

“Fine,” I lied. The truth was that I was shocked and pissed off with a dozen questions running through my mind. The first one being: Seriously? Jesus, it’s Tuesday night! The second was: Who even does cocaine on a Tuesday? Then my mind started racing— On a first date? Who really does cocaine anymore anyways? I mean, I know what the stuff is, but isn’t it kind of 1985? Then—wait a second, is this guy really a junkie or something, or is this date going so badly that he thinks he has to get high just to have a conversation with me over a glass of wine? Oh God. I am such a loser!

I started to panic, knowing that I would have to make a decision on how this thing was going to go down. Should I storm out? Make an excuse? Confront him? Pretend that I don’t notice? While I was in the midst of this personal crisis, cokehead Jonah was smiling at me goofily. He picked up his glass and gulped the last of his whiskey-soaked ice chips.