"Still don't believe you'll do it."
"It's either that or have a very different 1752."
"But your own son?"
"Stop whining, it's not like he ever existed."
That's the conversation I heard when I stooped into the bar out of the rain, sopping wet with a broken umbrella and matted hair. Nobody seemed particularly surprised to see me and nobody lent a hand except a big guy, looked like a trucker, flannel shirt, hairy knuckles, a bit of a stereotype but I didn't really care. All that mattered to be was trying off and getting a drink.
He took my coat and hung it on an antique coatstand in the corner while I rung out my hair and checked my makeup hadn't run in the bar's mirror. Miraculously it was fine, though knowing I was looking my best made me feel oddly out of place. The bar had a varied collection of patrons but one thing that stood out, on reflection, was that none of them stood out. It was too normal, too bland.
The trucker sat down next to me, his hands damp from my coat and ordered two drinks, a whiskey and a glass of wine. He passed the glass to me without a word. It was good, if I had known they'd stocked it I'd have ordered it myself.
The trucker took out a lighter and started playing with it, looking a little bored. He'd been kind enough to buy me a drink and take my coat so I owed him a conversation at least.
"I had a son once."
"Sorry. I couldn't help but over hear when I came in. You having family trouble?"
"You could say that."
"He in the trucking business as well?"
"I don't have a son. I don't remember saying I was a trucker either. You a cop?"
I laughed. "No. Sorry. I just assumed. 17-52, like 10-4, some kind of trucker code right?"
"Right. " he said sadly, "You want to hear an interesting fact?"
He brought up the lighter. "Lighters were actually invented before matches, well, before the kind of ones we're used to anyway."
"Yep. 1823. Three years before the invention of the friction matches like we use today."
"You training for a game show or something?"
"I just pick up these things along the way. Speaking of which, what brings you here?"
"Car died. Which reminds me, I really should call a mechanic, get it sorted."
"Nawww, don't worry about that, I'll get Max on it." He yelled towards the back of the room. "Max!"
A guy who looked like Santa Claus shuffled out of the dimly lit corner and tipped his hat. "What?"
"The lady's in trouble and could use your expertise in all things automotive." He turned back to me. "Don't worry, if max can't fix it in ten minutes, no-one can fix it at all, he's a genius at this kind of thing."
"I don't know, I should really call a professional and no offence, but we've only just met, I'm not really sure I want a stranger messing around with my car."
"A stranger you met in a bar instead of a stranger on the end of a phone?"
"A suppose you have a point there."
He patted me on the arm while playing with his lighter in the other hand.
"Look, let's go outside and check on Max, he's probably fixed it already."
I shrugged and grabbed my coat and headed outside. Max was just putting down the hood of my car and wiping his hands off.
"That was quick, what was it?"
"Just a loose cable." Max shrugged. "Always the little things."
"Well thanks, do I owe you anything?"
"Nah, I'll put it on your tab." Max said, winking.
"I suppose you'll be heading off now?" came the voice of the trucker.
"I spun around. Err, yeah. Thanks for the drink."
"The names Randy." he said, extending his hand.
I smiled, finding it a little odd, but shook his hand in return. "Helen."
"Well, nice to meet you Helen. Have a nice trip."
I fumbled for my keys and got in the car. "Bye randy. See you around."
As I drove off I noticed something. My watch was off by half an a hour according to the dashboard clock.
* * * * *
Randy walked back into the bar and ordered himself another drink. The man he'd been talking to earlier came and sat down next to him.
"Nice girl, you're a lucky man."
"You do it?"
"I knew you couldn't do it."
"I put it in my whiskey instead. Now I'll be shooting blanks. No reason to put her though it."
"Damn, you must really love her."
"I will do."