Leaving the courthouse, Dale walked down the steps behind Sue. He wanted to say something to her, but he knew Sue did not want to talk to him, plus she was on the arm of another man. Once Dale got into his vehicle and started driving down the road, he felt lost in his hurt, anger, and thoughts.
What happened? Hadn’t he given her everything she had ever wanted? The more demanding Sue had become, the more he had worked, then she said he was gone too much. How could he have been so blind?
Pulling his car into the bar’s parking lot, Dale remembered that this was where it had all begun. Getting out of his car and walking inside., he wondered if the barstool he used to occupy was empty. Sure enough, as he entered the bar, he saw the empty barstool. Dale sat down then asked the bartender, Nick, for a mug of beer. Dale looked at his reflection in the large mirror on the wall behind the bar counter. The reflection coming back at him showed a man, graying at the temples, unshaven, bewildered, and tired. Dale asked the bartender for another beer. As he sipped the beer, his mind wandered back to the last time he had sat at this bar.
A young woman sat down on the stool beside Dale at the bar then said, “Hi! My name is Sue. What’s yours?”
Dale looked at her reflection in the mirror, then smiling replied, “My name is Dale. Nice to meet you, Sue.”
As Dale turned to look at Sue, he was amazed at her beauty. She had long brown hair, beautiful green eyes, and deep dimples in her cheeks when she smiled.
Dale grimaced with pain as he remembered meeting Sue that night in the bar, then he asked the bartender for another beer. Hoping to control his thoughts, Dale looked into the mirror. The mirror reflected four pool tables on the bar’s right-hand side, but the left-hand side reflected the jukebox and a large dance floor. Dale knew that before long, people would be coming into the bar to drink, dance, and play pool, but he just came to get drunk and forget.
Sue looked beautiful as he kissed her on their wedding day. Although they had only known each other for a couple of weeks, Sue had become his wife. Dale was smitten and loved her with all of his heart. Within six months, their first baby would be born, and he became a proud father. It did not matter to him that he was not the baby’s biological father.
A loud disturbance in the bar made Dale look up into the mirror. He watched as the bouncer grabbed one of the young men and escorted him out of the bar. Dale decided that he was not the only person feeling a little drunk and angry. When the jukebox began playing, the mirror’s reflection showed couples starting to dance on the dance floor.
Soon the cab of his eighteen-wheeler would pull into their driveway, and Dale was excited. He was so ready to see Sue and their son. Being on the road, making a living, took an enormous toll on his time with his family, but it was the best that Dale could do. He wanted Sue and their son, Jacob, to have everything they wanted, no matter what. As Dale pulled into the driveway, Sue and Jacob ran from the house to greet him. Sue jumped into his arms as Jacob grabbed hold of his legs, and they all tumbled to the ground. Love, laughter, and happiness filled the air around them.
Rubbing his fingers through his hair, Dale asked the bartender for another beer. Looking worried, the bartender asked Dale for his car keys. Dale laughed as he took his keys from his pocket then placed them on the bar counter, saying, “Okay, Nick, you can drive me home.”
Nick answered, “You betcha, buddy.”
Nick, the bartender, had been Dale’s Best Man at his wedding but was clueless about what had happened, and Dale was not going to bring him up to date.
Sue screamed, “I am tired of raising this kid by myself! You are never home! I want you here to watch him for me! I need to be able to go out sometimes. Dale, find another job, or I am leaving!”
Dale grabbed Sue and hugged her close to him, telling her he loved her, but she pushed away from him, left the driveway, ran across the grass then walked into the house, slamming the door behind her. Since he was running late to pick up his trailer truckload, Dale got into the cab of his truck and backed out of the driveway. Dale knew that Sue would be okay because she had said this all many times before. Sue knew he worked hard to provide for her and Jacob. He would call her at his first opportunity, and they would make up on the phone.
As he shook Dale’s head lying on the bar counter, Nick asked, “Dale, are you okay?”
Realizing he had dozed off a minute, Dale looked up into the face of his friend then said, “Yes, I am okay. Only tired, I guess.”
Dale got up from the stool then staggered to the men’s room. Once relieving himself at the urinal, he walked to the sink, turned on the water, and splash it on his face. Looking into the mirror above the sink, he stared at his reflection a moment. The person staring back at him from the mirror was a defeated man. Dale left the men’s room, then staggering, returned to the barstool at the counter and ordered another beer.
Dale could not believe their marriage was over. Sue told him she found another man who loved her more than he did. Dam, I guess Sue did find a way to go out while he was on the road. What had she done with Jacob while she was bar-hopping? At least she had given him custody of Jacob. How could Sue think another man loved her more than he did?
A loud crash and then a loud argument brought Dale out of his thoughts. Dale looked into the mirror and was surprised when he saw Sue with a man at the pool tables. The man was yanking her by the hair and yelling into her face. Dale could hear Sue pleading with the man to let go of her.
Dale got off the barstool and staggered over to the pool tables, stopping only to grab a pool stick off the wall. Dale swung the pool stick with both hands, striking the man in the back. Releasing his hold on Sue’s hair, the man fell to the floor.
Looking into the startled face of Sue, Dale felt only sympathy for her as he said, “I loved you more.”
Turning around, then staggering back to the bar, Dale sat back down on the barstool. In the background, he could hear people yelling, “Call 911 and the police! Hurry!”
Dale looked into the mirror and saw Sue walking towards him. Soon Sue sat down on the barstool beside Dale. They sat there in silence for a moment, then Dale asked, “Sue, do you need a beer?”
Sue cried as she answered, “Yes, please.”
As the sirens got closer and closer, Dale and Sue sat on the same barstools where it all began sipping their beers in total silence.