wine bar.

by s.m.

She stopped in a cafe on Avenue B, near Tompkins Square Park, and though it was still early in the afternoon, had a glass of wine.  There were a few other patrons in the bar, on iPads or laptops, while the bartender cleaned glasses for the evening and fussed with the music.  Bruno, she thought.  Now it was the wine reddening her face.  That had to be it.  The wine.  She had seen Bruno just that one time on Capri, and once in Milan after that, at dinner, with her brother and his wife.  She wasn’t attracted to him.  That wasn’t to say he wasn’t attractive, she thought, remembering his well-cut Zegna suit and the tortoiseshell glasses that made him look a little like Clark Kent.  An Italian Clark Kent.  At the time she had just gotten together with Paolo, and even an Italian Clark Kent couldn’t hold a candle to a football superstar.  She finished her glass of wine.  The bartender came over and poured her another.

“I didn’t ask–” she began.

“It’s on me,” he said.  “Enjoy.”  She held his gaze for a moment, unblinkingly staring into his icy blue eyes.

“Thanks,” she said, replying the way Americans spoke, so casually.  She looked down to the bar, letting her hair fall halfway over her face.

“What do you do?” The bartender asked.

She picked up her Leica point-and-shoot from the seat next to her and waved it at him.  “Photographer,” she answered.

“Here in the city?”

“No, I’m from Italy.”

“You don’t sound like you’re from Italy.”  The bartender looked puzzled.

“I lived here for a year after school.”

“Would I have seen your work anywhere?” he asked.

“Maybe?  I shoot fashion, mostly in Europe, occasionally here.”

“Oh, cool.  Is that why you’re in New York?”

“Just vacation this time.  My boyfriend came over for work.”

“And left you alone?”  The bartender leaned in.  He had cropped black hair, a beard and mustache, shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows to reveal muscly forearms covered with tattoos–she noticed angels and skulls, script lettering spelling poetry or song lyrics, one that reminded her of the shape of an indeterminate midwestern state.

“So it seems,” she murmured.  He stayed leaning on the bar, she swirled her wine in the glass but didn’t drink.