The bartender was shy. That was the only explanation.
He’d seemed so certain, standing behind the counter. With the orders coming in and out, with the crowds giving their stories. He stood there, face like a stone that somehow was welcoming to all who knew him.
But now the child stood in the back with the bartender as the older man showed (mainly through gestures) how to use the stove. The child watched with awe- both the usage of the appliance and how the walls of the man, once so sturdy, shook when faced with being the one scrutinized.
The child listened and then reached for the spatula, only for the bartender to shake his head. The child found himself wearing an apron. The cloth had been hastily tailored, fixed for his height. Just for him.
A small smile rose on his face, looking up at the bartender.
The bartender smiled back.