It had been two weeks, and now they were the only ones left.
Two people. Out of two dozen. How does that happen?
Joe was the first one to leave. Joe. The alcoholic. The one that had been through four marriages, and each one telling the story of how alcohol was his only live.
Then Sara. She was sorely missed. The service around here wasn’t as good as it was with her here. And many of the patrons missed her flirting. It was the only female attention some got.
Then the lead singer of the band. And since the band wasn’t as good without a singer, they soon left too.
The next to succumb was Marie. She lived next door in the motel and people ignored her frequent exits with one man or another, only to see her return an hour later.
Bob, the homeless guy wasn’t missed when he disappeared.
But Bruce was. He was the loud jokester of the group - always laughing and pulling pranks on the others. He irritated some, but it was too quiet without him around.
Sydney, the token Jewish guy in the group, surprised everyone when he publicly announced he was leaving. He was a businessman in another life, until his partner took all the money from the business account and went to Vegas. Sydney was very angry and bitter. Everyone thought he was with them for good.
Now there were just two. I guess one patron, and one bartender.
Mike swirled his whiskey around in his glass. “Where is everyone?” He mumbled. Sam, the bartender heard him and smiled knowingly.
“I know where they are. They’ll be back. I guarantee it!”
Mike took another gulp from his drink. Sam continued to wipe the glass he’d been drying for 15 minutes, glancing at the door periodically.
“You think they’re all going to walk through that door? I don’t. They’ve left us for good. Once someone gets religion, they feel too guilty to come back to their old haunts.”
Sam nodded, his silly grin covering his entire face.
“What are you smirking at, Sam? Just stop it. You’re creeping me out.”
Mike slammed his drink on the counter, motioning Sam for another drink. He looked around, missing the banter and camaraderie. He slumped further into his seat. “I guess it’s you and me, Jack.” Mike spoke into his glass as he took another gulp. “Sometimes Jack and Evan and Patron and Captain Morgan are a man’s only friends.” He sighed.
Sam stopped wiping the glass and said, “I don’t think so,” as he nodded toward the door. Joe, and Marie and Bruce led the way, followed by the band members and the rest. They all came right up to Mike, speaking all at once.
“Come on, man! Come with us!”
“I never saw or felt the like!”
“It was amazing!”
“Better than drugs or alcohol!”
“I’ve never felt better in my life!”
The words all jumbled together. Mike barely recognized his friends. It had only been three days and it seemed their faces had changed overnight. Joy, happiness, hope, confidence replaced despair, futility, anger and depression. Yet they were the same. They still embraced him. He was still part of the group.
“Come with us Mike! We can’t leave you behind. Come and see what we’re talking about...”. Marie grabbed him by his arm and started tugging. Mike slowly got up and followed his friends out the door, glancing at the flyer on the bulletin board.