Walter returned from the bathroom and struggled to remount his barstool. He gripped the bar with both hands, threw one pudgy leg onto the padded seat, and wriggled and scooted his way up like a seal on the beach. When he had finally resumed his seat, a bead of sweat trickled down his temple, out from under greasy, badly-cut hair. In need of refreshment, he sucked at the straw in his fruity mixed-drink, temporarily lodging the peak of the paper umbrella in his left nostril.
Eugene smirked from the next stool over. “Wasn’t sure you were going to make it,” he said.
“Shut up,” said Walter. “Don’t you hate these work functions?”
“I don’t know,” said Eugene, “they’re all right. Free drinks.”
“If the boss didn’t treat them like loyalty litmus tests, I’d totally skip,” said Walter. His eyes drifted to the dance floor as he drew again on his straw. “Look at Mitch,” he said.
“What about him?” said Eugene, turning his attention to the man Walter had fixed on.Continue reading