Again, Fleming didn’t answer Gil and he knew she wouldn’t. He also knew that her first visit to the bar hadn’t been happenstance, and her now regular visits weren’t because he made a mean Club Soda.
He began to think that Fleming was as much of an enigma as Luke. Those two people had found each other in a most improbable way, which appeared to have almost been predestined.
Fleming seemed to be full of life, while Luke had an urgency for the angel of death to finally give him peace. She was drawn to him like a moth to a flame and in Gil’s experience, that scenario was always an irresistible and dangerous attraction.
The next few weeks, Luke had begun to open up to Fleming a little more, but he was looking haggard and full of angst. As soon as he downed one drink, he was motioning for Gil to pour him another.
Several times in the past few weeks, Gil had mentioned to Fleming that he was concerned about Luke’s drinking. “I’ve seriously considered limiting how much I’m willing to serve him but as long as he doesn’t cause a fuss…like Larry and Mel down there, I really have no reason to govern how much he drinks. He’s a grown man and he knows what he’s doing…and so do I…and so do you.”
One night, Fleming walked in and Gil shrugged. He walked over and said “he’s not here.” He could tell Fleming was disappointed as he watched her slide onto the last stool at the end of the bar.
She surprised him when she ordered a Single Malt. He leaned over and said “okay. This is getting a little bit creepy. You’re sitting in his place and you’ve ordered his drink. What’s going on with you?”
Fleming said “I just feel so sorry for him. I don’t believe I have ever seen a more tortured soul.”
Gil said “I know you feel sorry for him, but like I said, you have to be careful. You can’t save everyone and you certainly can’t save him.”
Gil wiped the counter and said “let me ask you something, again.” Fleming looked at him and hesitantly said “what?” He said “why…why are you so fixated on this man?”
After some thought, Fleming said “I told you. I think I can help him.”
Gil said “but why him? There are many folks in here that could use a friend or someone to help them. You singled out the one most unlikely person in the entire bar to…what? Rescue?”
Then he looked at Fleming and said “there’s something going on here that you’re not telling me.”
Fleming said, rather curtly, “don’t pull your psycho mumbo-jumbo on me. Not everyone’s actions or inaction’s can be explained or diagnosed by Sigmund Freud.”
“True,” Gil said. “But I know unusual and inexplicable behavior when I see it. And I know when there’s an underlying cause…or story behind that behavior.”
Fleming looked at Gil and said “I tell you what. Let’s get out our scalpels and start dissecting each other. We’ll start with you.”
Gil raised his hands in the surrender position and said “touché.”
Fleming stood up, took a twenty out of her wallet, tossed it next to the untouched glass, turned and walked out.
To be continued__________________________