Much More than Friends
"I think I'm pregnant," Lisa gasped as she smashed the empty shot glass down on the bar counter, "Uno mas," she swept her blonde hair back from her tanned forehead and looked at Victor to see his reaction. What would her favorite Cancun barman say to that?
Victor raised an eyebrow as he refilled her lunchtime tequila. Tall, handsome and well built he was used to attention from the ladies and he'd seen this play out thousands of times before in the bar. Girl on vacation, a little party, a little more party, and next thing you know a little baby. He tidied up behind the bar as the beautiful girl with the great body transformed into the latest train wreck in the bar. If only she wasn't a wild tourist, he thought, what a waste, she was stunning.
Lisa burped and continued, "It was a mad night, three of us ended up in bed. Me, Jack Daniels and some guy. That's about all I remember. But today I feel a bit weird. I should have known better."
Victor wiped down the bar in front of her. "Don't worry. In a few days you'll be back in Boston and this will all fade away with your tan. Everyone needs to let their hair down now and again. That's what Cancun is for. That's why we all love it here so much. Relax. Enjoy the rest of your vacation. It'll be alright. Trust me chica."
Lisa's red eyes watered and she sighed as she slumped further into her seat. "It's not just last night. Your life is good here. You work at the beach, everyone is so friendly here and you're always smiling. I hate my life in Boston. I'm 32 years old, single and I don't want to go back to work next week. It sucks. Really, it does.
"And today I woke up, hungover again and alone and I made a decision. A big decision. From now on I'm making my happiness my top priority. I'm not living the rest of my life bending over backwards trying to make everyone else happy. I've been doing that long enough and it doesn't work. Look at the state I'm in today. I'm walking proof that being a people pleaser doesn't work."
"It's not so bad Lisa. You're just having a bad day. Go work on that tan and enjoy a good siesta. You'll feel much better. The sea is beautiful today. Go take a swim." Victor pointed to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean gently lapping the shore line.
"Maybe you're right. I love talking to you Victor . You're always so kind and decent. I always feel so much better after talking to you. I don't know what it is about you. All week I've been popping in here and I've hardly been to any of the other bars. I just keep coming back here to see you. Crazy eh?" Lisa looked Victor up and down and enjoyed the now familiar sight of his bulging muscles under his tight white linen shirt. He looked fantastic with that brilliant white against his dark tan and his short black hair and his stylish white linen trousers flowing down to his bare feet in the sand. If only...
"We are good friends now Lisa. Maybe next year you come visit again or maybe two years from now and we'll talk like it was yesterday. We've talked about a lot of different things, you and I, and it's always interesting. Always. I look forward to seeing you when you call in. This town is full of party girls but you're not like the rest of them. For me, you are a friend, a friend for life. And I hope we can stay in touch after you leave."
"Oh, we will, don't worry, I'll send you photos of dull and dreary Boston. You don't know what you're missing," Lisa laughed.
"Okay Lisa, I need to get going now that Maria has finally turned up. Only 20 minutes late for her 1p.m. start. She's getting better. See you later guapa."
Lisa watched as Victor made his way barefoot from the bar across the sand and past the other beach bars. He stopped again and again to greet people and after a round of handshakes and hugs he stepped up onto the pavement and disappeared down the street and out of sight.
Lisa wondered where her gay friend was going and when he would be back. What a lovely guy. A true gentleman, living his simple life by the beach, enjoying his job and smiling his way through life.
He said he was 46 but he looked more like 36. He clearly spent a lot of time in the gym. These Mexico City guys don't mess about when it comes to looking good. And he was always well dressed, very well dressed for a barman. Victor was always dressed in the very best linen trousers and fashionable shirts and he was extremely well groomed with never a hair out of place.
Maria ambled over to Lisa, "Hola, Lisa, how are you today?"
"Good, how are you?" Lisa smiled, happy for the chance to talk to someone.
"Very good," she smiled back. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Water would be good."
"Water? Are you sure? You feeling okay today?" Maria joked.
"I'm starting a new life today Maria. No more drinking this week and no more men this year. I've had about enough of both this week."
"Relax, you're on vacation, don't worry."
"I know, I know. That's what Victor was saying. Everyone says that here. Is it some kind of tourism slogan or what?" Maria frowned unsure of how to respond.
Lisa caught herself getting boisterous and sipped on the water.
"You've got it all Maria, you live in a beautiful place, your husband adores you and you have four wonderful kids. No wonder you are always so happy. Your life is perfect."
Maria laughed and smiled even more. "Lisa, my friend, nobodies life is perfect. I thank God for my blessings everyday, believe me, I do. But my life is far from perfect."
"Okay, okay but you have a great family life. I've been single for the last two years since my ten year relationship fell apart. Two workaholics doesn't make for a good life together. I found that out the hard way. We hardly ever saw each other and when we did we were both exhausted."
"You'll meet someone. I know you will. Everyone thinks you're great. Even Victor likes you and he never talks about the girls to me."
Lisa sat up, put a hand through her hair and bit her lip. "Oh really, what did he say about me?"
"He said you'll make some guy very happy one day. There's something about you he really likes. He didn't say what it was but I could tell he's impressed by you."
Lisa smiled and then reminded herself she only had a few days left and then Victor and her would be online friends. Great. She sipped the water and looked at Maria, smiling and singing to herself as she cleaned up behind the bar. The lunchtime crowd started to wander in from the beach for food and drinks, Lisa paid her bill and made her way back to her hotel room.
Sitting at the table on her terrace she fired up her computer and opened an email from her boss and read the opening paragraph of a long message:
Lisa, I'm so sorry to spring this on you while you're on vacation but the business has just been acquired. I've been let go and my entire team has been too. I'm afraid your position was made redundant as part of the restructure. Here's what happened...
p; Lisa stared at the screen, stunned and speechless she reread the message four more times until the unavoidable truth hit her straight between the eyes. Ten years working day and night for those slave drivers and this is how they tell me it's all over. Unbelievable.
Lisa looked out to the beach and beyond to the sunlight dancing on the coastline. Well, it can't get any worse. I'm pregnant, developing a drinking problem and now I'm out of work and alone thousands of miles from home. What next? She asked of the empty chair beside her.
She logged into her bank account to check the balance and was surprised to see a large deposit had gone through that morning. Wow, I though I was dipping into my overdraft. It looks like I just received a generous pay off. Oh yeah, there was something about that in the email.
Maybe all that hard work did pay off after all. With that healthy balance I could take 12 months off and travel, that would be nice. I could even skip the New England winter this year, that'd be great. And if I travel lots and lots maybe I'll meet a guy. Hey, maybe getting fired will turn out to be the only way I'll have time to get out there and meet some new people.
Tonight I'll going to celebrate my freedom! I hope Victor will be working. Maybe I can get him to have a drink for a change. He's so disciplined it's ridiculous. And he's supposed to be a barman for God's sake. Geez!