L & L pub is now deserted. The glow from the fire and lamps on the wall keeps the place visible and welcoming. Rebecca scans the place with a yawn. She walks through the swinging door behind the bar and returns with a small bucket and a rag. Ralph watches this with a smile. He turns to the sink behind the bar. A tall mound of glasses flows over the top of the sink. Ralph lines them up on the bar while running some water in the now empty sink.
Alfred drains the last drop of his latest beer. “Excuse me, Edward. I will be right back.” Alfred takes his empty beer glass over to the bar. He moves behind the counter while turning on the tap to fill the glass. “Ralph, I know we are staying late. I appreciate you and Rebecca keeping the lights on for us. I do hope you will go to bed when you want to. You know that Edward and I could be at this awhile.”
Ralph laughs as Alfred cuts off the tap just before the beer gushes over the top. “Well, obviously, you don’t need me here. Rebecca looks like she just started in that direction. It doesn’t look like we’ll see anyone else tonight anyway.”
Alfred toasts Ralph. “I will make sure we clean up whatever we use.”
Ralph looks over Alfred’s shoulder at me. I tip my glass in his direction. “That’s right, Ralph. You and Rebecca’ve been very kind to us this evening. We don’t want to impose longer than necessary, so you just head out when you get ready. I agree that we will wash whatever we use.”
Ralph looks over at Rebecca. She is adeptly washing the tables off. She pauses every now and again to scrub some really persistent stain. Ralph smiles sideways at Alfred. “Do you hear that, Dear? It appears that Edward will be staying the night, and he doesn’t even plan to pay for a room. Plus, they’re going to use our dishware for their sleepover.”
Rebecca finishes the last table which is conveniently the one next to our table. “Oh, sure, Ralph. You had to know that was coming when Edward showed up so late and was expecting a visitor. I hope you already have a couple extra bottles in the back for tomorrow. You know these freeloaders will just drink it all.”
Ralph laughs. “Well, that works, gentlemen. You know where everything is. Since Rebecca doesn’t have a problem with you staying, neither do I. Besides, I agree with Rebecca: it wouldn’t be the first time that Edward has closed us down on account of a visitor.”
Alfred gasps and clutches his chest. “Edward, you do this with other visitors? I didn’t think you knew anyone else. And, here, I thought I was special.”
Rebecca pats me on the shoulder. “Oh, you’re special all right, Alfred. We’re just not sure what kind of special.”
I laugh. “She does have a point, Alfred. I mean rarely do I get out this late at night to come visit a friend and have this much trouble finding out what is happening.”
Alfred grunts and grabs one bottle of the winter whiskey. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. Because if I did hear it, I might forget to be nice and bring you this bottle.”
Rebecca laughs while moving back toward the bar. She shakes her head at Alfred in passing as she moves back through the swinging door. She returns this time with a lamp snuffer. She starts in my direction. “I’m going to leave the ones on either side of your table burning. I don’t want to be using too much oil, but I couldn’t sleep if I left you boys in the dark.”
Alfred walks back to our table and sets the bottle in the middle. “Thank you, Rebecca.”
Rebecca nods her head before walking around the vacant seats between the door and the bar. She snuffs the other six lights. The glow from the fire casts shadows over the place as its light fights back the darkness. Rebecca returns to the bar.
Ralph pulls two wine glasses from under the bar. A red wine fills both glasses. Rebecca slides onto a bar stool, and Ralph just leans across next to her. They settle into conversation about the day’s business.
I take a deep breath. “They really are the nicest barkeeps that I know of.”
Alfred nods gazing into his beer. “This county would be lost without them. Sometimes people just need a place to step back.”
“Right, Alfred, and that is why we are here now. So, what’s happening with Papa Burbanks’ farm. Have the children completely divided it?”