Our short story of the week is a story about a bartender by Phoebe Smith.
Phoebe Smith was born in Sacramento, California. She studied writing at Humboldt State University and subsequently lived in Bulgaria and Germany as an au pair for several years, before returning to California and diving into a career. She currently lives in a small town in wine country with her partner and a dangerously large cat. She enjoys geeking out on craft beer, cooking, travel, anything related to geese (including actual geese), and modern jazz. She wrote and illustrated her first stories in the first grade and hasn’t ever stopped. As well as fiction, poetry is a secondary passion of hers: as a student, she won the Jody Stutz prize for best poem and had a poem published in her university’s literary journal.
To Be Loved, and Made Twice follows a bartender who notices a customer behaving very strangely. You won’t see the ending coming…
‘Disquiet. Squirming, urgent agency: this moment is unbearable.
The doorman, Bernie, has hastily shoved everyone out at exactly 2am as he always does, his fervent protection of me and the other Gordie’s staff, and of his own anticipated bedtime. It’s 2.05 now. Through the padded door, you can hear the multitude of muffled voices coming from our recently evacuated patrons. Too-loud laughter over cigarettes and giggling girls arguing over who is going to app-order the ride home this time. It is usually background noise to me, but tonight I find myself startle-flinching at each rise in the volume of their drunken banter.
Mechanically I sweep empties and half-empties off of counters and tables into sticky black bins while Vera sweeps and Tanner’s got the sink running. I’m silent. Normally the three of us would be sleepily chattering through our final tasks of the shift, mildly cheerful and grateful for the revealing last-call lights that actually allow us to see what we’re fucking doing for the first time all night, while simultaneously squinting in response to their comparative harshness. My colleagues don’t seem to notice I’m not joining them in their happy-hour carolling, which saves me a moment to wallow in my shock.‘