She wandered into The Tap on a Monday afternoon like she was lost. When she turned around and saw me sitting at the first booth to her left, she looked almost relieved. I couldn’t imagine why she would be. It’s not like we were friends. And yet, to my surprise, she sat right down in front of me.

“I have an interview,” she revealed eyeing the piles of money I had laid out in stacks in front of me for the weekly tip pool.

“Oh…” I replied, wanting to gather all the money up and hide it from her. “With George?”

“Yeah,” she said, looking at me expectantly. Like I was supposed to go fetch him for her. I didn’t move.

“Oh, I guess I should cut this thing off first,” she mused, looking at the muddy red wristband on her arm as if for the first time. “I haven’t wanted to because Lollapalooza was SUCH a good time. I went with Drew Nodar, Seth Grady and Jonah Peabody. You went to high school with those guys, didn’t you?”

“I did…” I responded slowly. I knew she knew I’d dated Jonah. She probably knew we’d had a nasty falling out. I knew she’d dated another guy, Christoff, who’d been part of that group too. Despite having frequented the same bar for months, this was the first conversation I was having with this girl. Any time she would see me talking to Christoff, she’d intervene, pull him away, never acknowledging me at all. Rumour had it they’d broken up for good now.

“I love those guys SO much,” she gushed. In the time I’d known of her, she’d been consistently rude and abrasive, so I was surprised that she was suddenly chatting with me like we were old friends. “I’ve only known them for a short time, but they’re like my family.”

“Uh huh,” I murmured, watching George walk out of the kitchen and right by our booth, toward the bar. Damnit. I wanted to get out of this conversation and back to work.

“Honestly, the bond we have is so tight,” she went on, examining her wristlet one more time. It was frayed all over. She was annoying me now. I really wasn’t in the mood to discuss the complex relationships I still had with some of those people from high school with a stranger. “I can’t believe you’re not friends with them anymore. I would never let them go.”

“Alright,” I said standing up abruptly. “I have some scissors you can use to cut that off.”

I led her to the host stand beside the bar and handed her the scissors in the desk. Luckily George saw us then and walked over. I was free! Or so I thought.

On Thursday, George approached me during my shift. “I hired your friend.”

“Who’s my friend?” I genuinely wondered.

“Annie. I’ve even scheduled you to train her on service bar on Saturday night.”

“She’s not my friend,” I blurted out before I could stop myself.  “She just started talking to me on Monday. Sat down at my booth. We have some mutual friends, but I don’t know her.”

George frowned, so I quickly added, “but it’ll be nice to get to know her on Saturday night.”

It wasn’t nice. I spent that whole Saturday racing around, making drinks, trying to teach her their ingredients, while she spent the whole night texting Seth Grady, pressuring him, trying to get him to throw a late night pool party after her shift. The evening was excruciating, and she even managed to skip out early, to the party she’d planned, leaving me to clean the bar on my own.

On the Sunday, I was enjoying a drama free morning driving to a friend’s house when there she was again. Annie was inescapable. This time she was pulled over to the side of the road, standing outside her car. As I drove closer, I saw Drew Nodar was there too, changing her back right tire, putting on the spare. For a second I thought about pulling over, but things seemed under control.

The next day was Monday again, and I was at The Tap doing the tips again. The phone rang and nobody was around, so I walked over to the host stand and picked it up.

“Thank you for calling the Bridgewood Tap, steakhouse and bar. This is Alexis speaking. How may I he-”

“Alexis. It’s Annie.” Of course it was. “I’m gonna be like an hour late for my training shift today.”

“Okay, I’ll get George so you can tell-”

“No, I can’t. It’s an emergency. I just got a flat tire, and I’m on the side of the road. I have to call for help. Tell him for me. Thanks.”

And she hung up. I told George, leaving out the part where I’d seen her with a flat tire just the day before. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was having a spell of bad luck and had gotten two flat tires in two days. That would suck.

When she finally waltzed in, her brown hair was perfectly straight, her makeup was on point and her bright white shirt was spotless. I double checked, “did you say you had a flat tire?”

“Yeah, look.” She shoved her hands toward me, they had some greasy black spots on the palms. Her manicure was undisturbed. She added with a threatening air, “if you don’t believe me, you can go and check out my car in the parking lot. It’s got a spare on the back right tire.”

“I believe you.”

I never told anyone she’d lied about the flat tire. I didn’t have to. She was fired for unrelated events before the end of the week.


2 thoughts on “The Tire

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