The petite redhead sidled up to the man in uniform sitting at the far end of the bar. “Hey, Sailor, buy a thirsty girl a cold drink on a hot day?”
“Sure. What are you drinking, mam?”
“Mam?! What the fuck? I’m not your mama. You can shove your drink up your ass!” she spat at him as she flounced away in a huff.
The bartender, drying glasses at the other end of the bar, gave a hearty laugh. “We got a saying around here, “Class Is As Classy Does.” Lola gets pissed off if every stranger doesn’t fall all over her. She’s harmless and decent. Get you another one?”
“Yes, please. I didn’t mean to offend her. Hard to break military habit.”
The sailor turned to survey the room. Neon signs advertising beer blinked in the few windows up high on the wall facing the main drag. The decor was Jimmy Buffet meets John Travolta, complete with a mirror ball over the tiny dance floor and fake palm trees adorned twinkling lights in the corner. Small groups filled the room with friendly conversation and laughter drifted across the room.
The bartender poured a healthy dram of neat whisky in the empty glass and asked, “What brings you to this one-horse town? There ain’t no water in these parts.”
“I lived here a long time ago. Left here in 1982 when I joined the Navy. Wanted as far away from this town as I could get and figured any ocean would fit the bill. Wasn’t sure I’d every come back.”
The sailor took a long, thoughtful drink, then fixed his gaze on the bartender.
“You know old Mr. Tucker?”
“George Tucker? Of course, he’s my grandfather. He owned this place up until he died last month. Now it’s up for sale. Why do you ask?” The bartender looked closer at the sailor’s face. “You look familiar. Who are you?
“You go by Drew Tucker, I believe. I’m Thomas Miller. Used to go by Tommy.”
The bartender drew in a breath. “Tommy Miller. My father. Holy shit.”
“I didn’t know you’d be bartending. I thought I’d come in for a drink then look you up.”
“Look me up? You walked out before I was born. What do you want?” Drew crossed his arms defensively.
“Hold up. I not here to fight. I’m not staying. I just came to give you this.”
Tommy held out an envelope to his son.
“The deed to the bar. Yours now. Your grandfather signed it over to me in return for me leaving town when your mother got pregnant. He didn’t give me the choice and I figured it was for the best. I kept my word.”
He placed a small gold key on the bartop. “The key to the safety deposit box with every letter I sent that was sent back.”
Drew looked at Bobby, took the envelope and tossed the remainder of the whiskey in his father’s face.
“I kept my word, too.”
Written for the To Live & Write in Alameda June 2019 “Flash Lit” Challenge #4. We had three days to write a poem or short story (of 500 words or less) or create a piece of art to the theme “Classy Is As Classy Does” and post the link in our group.