Chapter 7- Haven
I followed Drew to the back of the bar, into the swinging doors. There are a couple of guys bustling around the kitchen.
“These are all the kitchen folk, head honcho over there’s named Bill. He don’t speak much, so don’t take it personally.” I nod and smile at the man called Bill, who waved his spatula at me and then cranked, what I assumed to be opera. “And yeah, they like to listen to opera in here, you get used to it.” I smiled. We went inside a small office. Something simple. A desk, a mac desktop computer, filing cabinets and a water dispenser accompanied with a small two seat couch. Drew walked over to a cardboard box that was under the desk and pulled out a navy-blue t-shirt.
“Here ya go, medium okay?” I nod and take the shirt from him.
“Yes, thank you so much.” He smiles and heads for the door.
“Well, you can change in here, just lock the door, and you can also leave your belongings in here. Promise it’s safe.”
“Okay, yeah, thanks. I also wanted to thank you for the job, means a lot.” He nods and smiles, closing the door behind him.
I quickly get out of my white shirt and change into my new uniform. I fold my jacket and place it on the black leather couch that already had a book bag and a thin parka jacket.
I open the door of the office and slowly head out to the bar area. Autumn, being right next to the swinging doors, smiles. “Looks good on you!” She hands me a small black apron with a bunch of pockets. “This is yours, just take a pen and a pad. Each table is numbered, so because it’s not that big of a place, we just put the number of the table at the top of the notepad.” I nod. “All you do is introduce yourself, take down their order. Drinks on top, food on the bottom. Then go to the computer by the register and put everything in so everything they order goes on the customer’s receipt. Also, you’ll learn the menu in no-time, this is a bar not a gourmet restaurant, so don’t worry. ”
“How about the drinks?”
“Oh, me or Drew bartend, not sure if Noah does yet, he just started today too. But I’m sure Drew will train him. So just ask any of us. Any other questions?”
“Mmm, no I think I’m all set.”
I start seeing customers coming in the bar and taking the seats at the stools. Autumn looks at me and then at the customers. “You got this Haven!” With that she walks away headed to the table greeting the customers.
I go and follow in her lead, heading to the other customers at the table next to her.
It’s just after 1am, the last customer finally leaves the bar. I start too head for the last couple of tables, to clear them up. Autumn does the same with her last couple of tables and the boys are behind the counter; Drew counting money and Noah cleaning the glasses.
I head around to the bar and place my tray with a few other glasses on the counter, right next to Noah’s. I rinse the dirty cups, then grab a rag to start polishing them.
“Okay, money is all set. Noah, almost done, so we can start heading home?” I glance at Noah from the corner of my eye and I see him shake his head.
“Nah, man. You an go ahead, I have these cups to clean, I’ll just hitch a ride.” I decide to keep my eyes on the task at hand just so I can avoid any weird eye contact.
“You sure? I can wait.”
“Nah man, seriously I’ll be fine.” He places the cup that was in his hand, next to the other clean cups. I do the same. There really wasn’t much more to get done, but I sensed he was just trying to talk to me.
“Hey Drew, I’m all set to leave is that cool?” Autumn says with her parka and book bag in her hand.
“Yeah, I’m headed out too. Hey Haven,” I look up at Drew in curiosity, “you did really good today, glad to have you on the team.” I smile a full smile, teeth and all.
“Thanks Drew, have a good night. You too Autumn!” They both wave and head out the bar doors leaving Noah and I alone.
I was dreading this moment all day. The fear of having to face anything, I wasn’t ready. I’m just going to wait for him to initiate anything. Luckily, the jukebox was playing, but of course it’s Elton John ‘Your Song’. I start to move more quickly. Then I sense Noah, placing down his rag and cup, turning his whole body towards me, but still keeping a respectable distance.
“So, Haven,” he clears his throat. I refuse to look at him, so I continue cleaning the cup. “About this morning; this may be a dumb question but is everything alright?” I act as though I don’t hear him and change cups. I didn’t wanna talk about this. I can already feel the deep sadness trying to pour out. No Haven, this cannot happen. All of a sudden, I feel his hands grab the cup and rag out of my hands. I then close my eyes and without my permission, I feel hot tears getting ready to spill down my face. I turn completely away from him and walk to the end of the bar, by the entrance trying desperately to catch the loose tears.
“Haven, look I know I don’t know you, at all, but don’t you think I deserve some type of explanation? ” I quickly wipe the last of my tears and turn. I look in his direction seeing that he stayed exactly where I left him. I take a deep breath and turn around staying in my place. I just look at him. He walks towards me from behind the bar. As he walks closer until we’re about a foot away from each other. His grey eyes stare into mine just searching them trying to find something, anything. But i refuse him any entrance.
“I guess you do and I really wish I can tell you, but I don’t quite know what happened either. It was just a bad moment for me, but I am thankful that you helped me.” I take a deep breath, look to the side and fold my arms across my chest. “I am sorry that you saw me that way too.” He clears his throat and also folds his arms across his chest.
“Hey, no apology necessary, glad I was there to help.” With our eyes being locked together, neither one of us breaking the tension. The only sound was the jukebox playing some random song. I cough and nod.
“Well, I think we should be all set here. Going to grab my things.” Before he could say anything, I speed walk past him to the swinging doors and then the office. I quickly grab my jacket and other t-shirt.
I need to get out of here. I didn’t want to deal with this morning and I especially didn’t want to deal with Noah trying to rationalize this morning.
I leave the office, putting on my jacket. Once I go through the swinging doors again, Noah’s right there, waiting, leaning against the bar counter. Once I came through, his head that was tilted down lifts up.
“Oh,” I squeal, “I’m going to head out, have a good night.” I start walking down the bar and towards the entrance. Before I get too far, I feel Noah’s hand on my shoulder. I turn around and jump back, I feel the fear rush through me.
“Oh hey, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” he puts his hands up. I nod and look down trying to steady my breathing. “I just wanted to walk out with you if that alright.”
I look up. Haven don’t worry, you’re safe.
“I- I don’t think that is a good idea.”
“Why? It’s super late, I wouldn’t forgive myself if something happened. Anyway, I need to get home too, don’t want anything to happen to me either.” He cracks a smile which made me smile back. “She smiles. Come on, I promise to keep at least 12 inches between us.”
His smile was so cute. Although the fear was there, it quickly settles. Somehow, someway I feel safe. I feel okay. I look up at the ceiling in defeat.
“Yeah, alright,” I look back at his face and see his smile grow bigger.
“Alright.” He claps his hands and motions for me to walk towards the door and with that, I push through the door hearing the bell ring. Noah not far behind.