From time to time I went to a little pub not far from my house. During the summer it was a nice ten-minute walk through the old streets of the Quartier d'Auteuil. But the summer was gone and now I put up the collar of my leather jacket while I was trying to hide my face behind the peak of my cap from the rain. It didn’t help much. The rain made my beard wet, I felt it running down to my chin.
With a sigh of relief, I stepped through the old wooden door into the pub, just two seconds before a much heavier downpour started. The bartender greeted me with a nod while I walked to the right to a small table in the corner and the window, just beneath a misplaced painting of McScrooge with a wizard’s hat. Nobody knew, why it was here, why anyone would choose such a bizarre motive. I had even asked the bartender about it, but he didn’t know anything about it. He said, it has been there for years.
While I was taking off my wet jacket und put it over the backrest of a chair, a woman in her early thirties stepped to my table and looked at me with a questioning look. I didn’t know her and was a bit confused.
“Can I do something for you?” I asked her. She grinned.
“That’s my line”, she said with a mocking undertone. I frowned before it dawned on me.
“Oh, you are working here!” She clapped her hands and nodded.
“That’s right. So: Can I do something for you?” I ordered a bottle of wine
“I’m sorry. I haven’t seen you here before, I was a bit confused.” The woman nodded with a sassy grin on her lips. With that she went to the bar and talked to the bartender. It was an odd behaviour for a new waitress, but I wasn’t that thin-skinned, so I just let it go.
But I caught myself following her with my eyes while she was going to another table to take the orders of a couple with menu cards in their hands. She wrote it down and went through a door in the backside. A few seconds later, the bartender brought me the ordered wine and two glasses. For the second time in a few minutes, I was confused. I pointed at the second glass but before I could say anything, the bartender just said:
“The boss wants to talk to you.”
“The boss? Like in a gangster movie?” The bartender just shrugged and went back to the bar. He has never been a very funny guy, I thought to myself. I opened the wine bottle and poured myself a glass. Even though I had thrown away all the alcohol in my life after I tried to drink myself to death when Rosie left me, I had started to consume it again. But I had set myself some strict rules.
My look wandered through the pub, then out of the window into the rain. When I nearly reached the end of my second glass, I noticed the waitress coming back through the backdoor. She carried two plates with steaming food on it and delivered them to the couple at the other table. From there she came straight into my direction and sat down on the other side of my table. I looked at her and waited for her to say something. But she kept quiet, again with this sassy grin on her lips. A little smile found its way into the corner of my mouth. To cover it up, I reached for the bottle of wine and poured her a glass. We both raised our glasses. I leaned back in my chair and looked at the waitress.
“Well, is your boss okay with you drinking wine while you’re working?”
“Oh”, she replied, “she doesn’t care.” In that moment, I understood the wording of the bartender.
“Because you are the boss.” She nodded. “I have never seen you here before. And this is not my first visit.”
“Mostly, I am in the inn next door.” I frowned.
“Oh, I didn’t know there’s an inn next door.” The woman pointed to the door she used to leave the pub minutes before.
“Well, through that door and you’re right in it.” And again, there was this sassy grin. I started to like her straightforward attitude, but I didn’t know what to reply. So, I asked:
“Vincent said, you wanted to talk to me.” I raised my hands nonchalantly. “Here I am. What do you want to talk about?” She leaned forward, her glass in both hands, smirking. Her voice was a whisper, with a played secretiveness.

It was not raining the next day. I appreciated it while walking to the pub. In my head, I recapitulated the previous evening. The innkeeper fascinated me with her humour, her witty mind and – in my eyes – a decent taste in music. Even though she was a few years younger than me, she preferred the music of my generation. We even shared a common interest in a couple of tv shows. So, we had a lot of things to talk about. And with that, we didn’t notice the passing of time. We were talking without a pause. Not just once or twice we annoyed the other guests with our roaring laughter when we teased each other with a witty or sarcastic remark. And suddenly, it was way past midnight and the bartender came to our table to tell her that everything was ready to close. She paused a moment and then send him home. She got up and they hugged each other before he left. Then she asked me:
“Do you wanna go?”
“Not really.” And with that I got up as well, made a step towards her und pulled her softly closer to me. She smiled and raised herself on tiptoes so she could kiss me. For half an eternity we were just standing there, kissing.
The rest of the night was a sweet, exciting memory. Her warm fingers on my skin, her smile and a lot of whispered banters. Even her kisses she gave me with much too much pressure were part of that memory. I recalled her laying on the counter. Just in her dessous, wile my lips explored her body, every curve, every part. The look on her face, this sassy sparkle in her eyes, as I took off my shirt while she was lying on the counter, watching me with a glass of wine in her hand, followed me all the way home and into my dreams.
When I reached the pub, I heard soft piano music and the lamp outside was turned off. The door was closed. I frowned and was confused. She invited me to come around today again. Did she change her mind? But just a moment later, the sound of a key turning around was to hear and the door opened a crack. I pulled it open and stepped into the dark pub. I closed the door behind me and walked through the anteroom. I saw her to the right, walking to the old piano, that was standing beneath the McScrooge painting. She was dressed just with a white blouse. On the counter stood a bottle of wine and two glasses. While she started to play the Solveig’s song from Edvard Grieg, I poured us two glasses. I leaned against the counter and watched her play. After a while, she moved to one side of the piano stool and gestured me to sit down next to her. She took a sip from my glass and continued to play. Meanwhile, I drank my wine and moved my hand under her blouse and started to caress her back. She closed her eyes with a smile and continued to play.

The next day she texted me while I was occupied with the renovations of my house. Though I heard my mobile ring, I didn’t look on it because I was carrying packages of my new floor into the house. After that I took care of some other small tasks and went out for grocery shopping. When I returned, I had a couple of missed calls from her. Also, a couple of texts. She asked what I was doing. Told me about her day. Asked, if I’m busy. If everything is okay. Then told me, she doesn’t want to disturb me, obviously, I’m busy. After that she wrote me a long text about how disappointed she is that I didn’t answer.
I was confused and checked my watch. All those messages came in less than three hours. That some women might be a bit impatient was no news for me. Even I am not the most patient person when, for example, it comes to something I ordered online. But this was a new level I never saw before. I went to the kitchen, opened myself a beer and sat down at the table to think about how I should react. But even before I got the chance to think about it, she called. I hesitated, but then I took the call. The first thing she told me with a bitter voice was her surprise that I didn’t ignore the call. This accusation caught me off guard. I didn’t know, what to reply. So I just said, that this was not true. But it made her angrier. She didn’t scream, there was some calm bitterness in her voice I couldn’t explain.
“You know, I really like you. I think, there is a basis for something that’s worth investing into. But it is obvious that I am more into you than you are into me. So, I think, it’s better that we don’t see each other again.” I sat there, dumbstruck when she ended the call. Even after two nights spend in her pub, I didn’t think there was something worth investing into. Furthermore, ending it so abruptly with such a weird explanation after this text message spam storm made it seem to me like I dodged a bullet there.
But it made me think, as well. What kind of signals did I send she would perceive as an interest in something serious? She engaged me. She made contact. I was responsive to her flirting because she was funny and beautiful. But I didn’t give any signal of serious interest, purposely. I behaved just the way I did with those other women I met in the last few months. And not one of them showed such an interest in me and starting something serious. Especially, not after two dates. I decided to forget about it. With an increasing number of women to date, there will be an increasing number of weird ones.  
The old cat jumped on my lap and gave me specific signals: She was hungry. I grinned.
But while I opened a can with cat food, a feeling of regret came over me. She was pleasant company and I knew; I couldn’t spend time with her again.
And I missed my chance to ask her about the strange McScrooge painting.

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