There is a pretty short list of reasons for a gentleman to refuse a drink…
Mr. Thomas was a perspective client… well that is a bit of a misnomer as he and his partners spent the better part of a year jerking my chain and pumping me for free information regarding their new venture. I allowed this one sided flow of information for so long because it held the promise of a perfect gig for me, one which would intersect my loves for dark liquors, wine, cigars and restaurants.
I spent untold and uncompensated hours dropping meal-sized bread crumbs of information about how to open and operate a successful place. My efforts to ration information in a manner that would underscore rather than eliminate their need for me were mostly effective and resulted in numerous confirmations that “I [was] their guy.”
My spidey sense told me not to invest too much emotional hope in their promises, however, when third parties began to congratulate me for the new client and contract, I let my skepticism relax. Still, I was surprised but not shocked when other second-hand, but very reliable, sources told me that they were “going in a different direction.”
For the last couple of months, he’s moved in another different direction when we shared the same space – cowards tend to avoid issues – as occurred with some frequency due to our sharing of a bar or two, which was the impetus for our intial meeting. Last night was different.
I saw Mr. Thomas sitting at the far right end of the bar just after I gave salutations to the bartender. It was a brief glimpse, a sideways glance in which I identified him more from his distinctive shadow rather than his face. I ignored him and expected that he would get his tab and flee as he has done most times since I heard “the news.”
About three quarters of the way through my bourbon, a server produces another with a cheery “This is compliments of Mr. Thomas.”
The server was two steps away before pride kicked-in and I said “take it back; I don’t want a drink from him.”