It was September, and the rains came early, gray curtains sweeping the dappled white sand. Across the horizon, the leaden sky and the dark rolling seas were as one.
The beachside bar’s lone customer sat on a stool just outside the reach of the spray and nursed his drink, appropriately a Dark and Stormy. His long, gray hair and beard, streaked in white, matched the scene outside.
He turned and gave the slender waitress an appraising look. He put her age at maybe thirty. As she turned, he adjusted that estimate to a very young-looking fifty.
She smiled back. She’d lost count of the years she’d spent waiting for the man who told her that someday he’d return. She could no longer recall the contours of his face or the sound of his voice. Why she’d stayed here she couldn’t say. Lean months were coming, and she’d be damned if she’d spend another dreary winter living off unemployment.
“How you coming with that drink?” she asked.
“I could use another. How about you? What are you having?”
Taken aback, she glanced at the bartender, who gave a shrug and returned to cleaning glasses.
“Get this man another round, Sammy, and make mine the same.”
The customer turned out to be a writer in his late seventies, though she’d never have guessed. He explained that he and his dog had been travelling for nearly a year now. The dog was waiting for him back at his RV.
“Where are you going from here?” she asked.
“I thought I’d run down to Gainesville. I haven’t been there since I graduated more than fifty years ago. How about you? Do you plan to stay here all winter?”
Again, she glanced at the bartender. He shook his head and never looked up.
“I can collect my paycheck and have my stuff ready by seven,” she smiled.
“I’ll be here.” As he paid for his drinks and started to leave, he said, “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Like the song.’
“Like the song.’