Derek tipped the glass back and swallowed the last of his beer. He set the glass down and stared down into it. Its’ emptiness was his own tonight. He closed his eyes and tried not to think of it and started knocking the glass on the table, making the noise echo through the small, dimly lit pub. The rough hand of the bartender touched his and took the glass.
“Don’t you think that’s enough for tonight, Derek?”
Derek looked up into the mans eyes, “Don’t give me your lip tonight, Chuck, just pour.”
“Alright, alright. No need for a fuss.” Chuck refilled the glass slowly.
When the glass was back in front of Derek, it sat there as he just stared at it then lowered his head onto his arm lying on the bar. Chuck looked him over as he grabbed a glass from the sink, and began to clean it. Only a few lonely souls had ventured into the place tonight. One of them at the far end of the bar was motioning for him.
“What’s up with that guy?” The stranger asked Chuck.
“Oh, you mean Derek?” He glanced over his shoulder to make sure Derek was unaware of the new conversation. “Well you see Derek had a deep love for this girl who lived just outside of town. The night that he went to her to finally ask her to marry him…” Chuck went silent and glanced back again at Derek.
“What happened? He find her with another guy?” the stranger asked, hunching forward onto the bar trying to coax the rest of the story out of Chuck.
“No…Lord knows things would be easier if that was the case.”
Chuck sighed, set the dry glass on the bar, and leaned forward to the stranger. “It was one of the foggier nights we had around here for a while. Derek was taking his time trying to get to her place without running into any deer.”
The sound of a glass being tapped on wood broke into Chucks story and he quickly straightened his spine and walked back towards Derek.
“Derek, please don’t do that.”
“It’s a free country, I’ll tap a glass if I want to.” Derek didn’t look up at Chuck this time but the empty glare was still on his face when he spoke.
“Derek, I’m cutting you off after this one. You and alcohol don’t mix.”
Chuck set the newly filled glass in front of Derek and wandered back the stranger. He sighed, he hated when Derek came into the pub these days. There was a time when Dereks’ arrival meant fun times, the jukebox playing some weird songs and people laughing.
“So, what happened?”
Chuck looked at the stranger; he had a look of a five-year old hearing a story from a kindergarten teacher. “Well, it was foggy and the road that Derek had to drive on was near the river which made it even worse. When he was a couple miles or so from her house, Derek made the mistake of taking his eyes off the road to look at a bouquet of flowers he bought her. When he looked back up, he thought he saw a deer and swerved to miss it, but….” Chuck trailed off again. He wished Derek would not come into the pub anymore. Every time he did, at least one stranger in here would ask why he acted the way he did. Rather than have them go up and directly ask Derek, Chuck decided to just start telling them whatever he could. The first guy who Chuck didn’t tell went right up to Derek and asked. He hated to call the cops on his own friend but Derek would have killed the man.
“Come on man, tell me.” The stranger broke into Chucks thoughts.
“Okay, okay. He swerved to miss it but he wasn’t quick enough and he ended up hitting it with the passenger side of the car. Derek cares as much for animals as for humans, he stopped the car to make sure the deer was dead and to move it off the road. When he got out of the car and walked around the back,” Chuck took a deep breath, “he saw what he had hit.”
Chuck looked into the mans eyes, he was latched onto everything Chuck was saying.
“It wasn’t a deer, it was Buck.”
“It was a buck?” the stranger asked.
“No, it was Buck. It was the dog that the girl owned. Derek had hit and killed his loves most prized possession. That dog was her whole life, she loved it. It killed Derek inside. He could have lied to her that he didn’t know what he had hit or he could just tell her. Being Derek, he made space in his trunk, slid Buck into it and drove to her house.”
The stranger shook his head, “Man, now that’s bad luck. Can’t really ask a girl to marry you when you show up with her dead dog can you?”
“You got it. Derek could never tell her how he cared for her and how he wanted to spend his life with her. So, he comes here and tries to lose that feeling.” Chuck looked back to Derek, who was sitting holding onto a half empty glass of beer just staring into it, “It’s a sad thing what fate has in store for us.”
“I’m sorry I asked.”
Chuck looked back at the stranger, “Pardon?”
“I’m sorry I asked, I figured he had a bad day at work or something went sour with his wife or something.”
Chuck just nodded as the stranger as he laid money onto the bar, got up and walked to the door. The sound of the tapping began again.
“Okay, okay.” Chuck said.
“So, what did you tell that guy?” Derek asked as Chuck grabbed the empty glass from him.
“You hit a dog.”
Derek laughed slightly into his chest, “That’s a new one. Make that up tonight?”
“Yeah, yeah I did.” Chuck put the glass into the sink and turned back to Derek. “I wish you wouldn’t come in here and act up like that.”
“Hush, Chuck, hush.”
“Derek, it’s not your fault. It was the fog…”
“No Chuck, it is my fault. Had I not decided that I needed to go that night, hell, had I not decided Anna was the one,” he looked away from Chuck, “You’d still have a daughter.”
“Derek, I’ve forgiven you.”
“Lets hope the man upstairs will do the same Chuck.” Derek headed to the door.
“You’ll be in my prayers Derek, I’ll ask Him to forgive you.” Chuck spoke to Dereks’ back as he walked out the door.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THE STORY ABOVE IS FICTITIOUS AND ANY RESEMBLANCE TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL.