Taste. No, sight. No. Wait. Is there something you want to tell me?
Who’s who? Who knows what? Who’s in and who’s out?
“Is there any tequila in this margarita or have I just had too many already?”
“Charlie, this is your first one,” Lexie said as she sipped her own.
“Oh, that’s right,” he said and straightened up in his chair.
“Well, it doesn’t taste like much,” he looked over to her and while she wasn’t looking at him noticed a sparkle in her eye. He looked to the bar and it was decorated in blinking Christmas lights, so it must have been that. Her drink also just looked more festive.
“Could I try a sip of your drink?”
“We have the same drink.”
“I don’t know if we do.”
“Are you just trying to get more drink? I can just order another one for you.”
“No, I want to try yours.”
She passed it across to him and it looked exactly the same as his save the lipstick marks on the rim of the glass that covered the thick flecks of salt. He avoided the lipstick areas and had a sip.
“And?” she asked as she took her glass back.
“It’s the same as mine.”
“Do they call you Holmes at work, Charlie?”
“Larry Holmes? Yeah, sometimes.”
“Sherlock,” Lexie didn’t bother asking who Larry was. “Because you’re such a sleuth. You figured out that my drink was the same as yours with the power of your taste buds.”
“I was just … “ he started but she interrupted.
“Nothing about that we ordered the exact same drink at the same time, but that you then did scientific testing to confirm your hypothesis.”
“I guess I’m just brilliant,” he said, not really knowing what else to say. No one said anything. Larry and Sherlock floated away.
“Lexie,” Charlie started again but didn’t wait this time around. “I can’t taste either drink.”
“Well, they’re not that strong.”
“No, I mean I can’t taste them at all. I can feel the liquid and the ice cubes on my tongue and in my mouth, but it might as well be ice water.”
Lexie reached over and took a big swig of his margarita.
“It’s the same as mine,” she concluded. “Plenty of tequila in there, don’t be fooled.”
There was an awkward pause.
“Wait, is this what Charlotte was telling me about?”
“What was Charlotte telling you about?”
“That you have, well, stuff going on.”
“Yeah, I have stuff going on. Did she elaborate?”
“So what’s the stuff?”
Charlie felt in his stomach that there was tequila in the drink even though he couldn’t taste it. He thought of how to explain.
“You can see dead people?” Lexie asked in all seriousness but smiled quickly.
“Well, not that I know of.”
“Charlie, I was kidding.”
“Yeah, I’m not sure I am.”
“Maybe we need another drink,” she said as she scooted closer to Charlie along the bar. She motioned to the bartender for two more of the same in the way that experienced bar goers do that impressed Charlie to no end. He had simple desires in his life, one was to feel like he was a regular and knew what he was doing.
She had that little sparkle in her eye again, but it must have been the lights around the bar. The lights were rather overdone, just everywhere that one might think to string lights and then double that. He thought about slowing down his drinking as he gulped down the last of the first margarita as the second one arrived and the bartender took his first glass and all of this happened in one fluid motion.
“Charlie? Hi, I’m over here,” Lexie said and waved a little hand in front of his face.
“I don’t know if I can see dead people, but I’m pretty sure I just lost my sense of taste so one of my other senses is going to be heightened in the next few minutes.”
“Cool,” was all that Lexie said.
“Cool? That’s it? No ‘Wow, Charlie, that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. Have you talked to a doctor or maybe consulted an alien or maybe sent a script to Hollywood about it?’ You haven’t thought any of those things, Lexie?”
“What do you see now, Charlie?”
“Uh, you in front of me, the bazillion lights around the bar, my second drink right there on the bar.”
“What do you see now, Charlie?” she asked again.
“The same thing I saw the last time you asked me.”
“Really? Look again,” Lexie said as if testing him.
“Lexie, what could have changed in a few seconds? Did you order yet another drink?”
She didn’t say anything but just looked at him as if waiting.
“Where do you want me to look?”
“Where are your eyes drawn?”
“To the lights.”
“Where do you see the lights?”
“On the bar, strung up around and on top of that ledge there. Hanging down around the sides. Uh,” he trailed off.
“Where else do you see them?”
“Lexie, what are you …. “
“Pushy Patty, sheesh,” he looked behind him, around him, exaggerating his annoyance.
“Look at me,” Lexie demanded.
“I am looking at you.”
“What do you see?”
“What else do you see?”
Charlie saw a fleck in her eye a little like the one he saw in the woman who ran the café in Florence. But he didn’t want to say it. He had a flash thought that maybe Lexie was a part of them. But it couldn’t be. They had known each other for years.
The flecks swirled around in her eyes a little more, but maybe it was the margarita. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, hoping not to see them. He didn’t.
“I don’t see anything else,” he said, determined not to give in if it were true.
“I see,” she said.
“Do you mean that you see as in you see what I’m seeing or you see what you’re seeing or what it is that you want me to see that you keep pestering me about or is it more like ‘I see’ like you understand?”
She smiled. “It’s all of those, I guess.” She shifted in her chair and loosened up as if to change the topic.
“Where’s your secret power, Charlie? I want to see it,” and she put her hand on his wrist. It was warm.
“Maybe I just don’t have it tonight,” he said and took a sip of his second margarita.
“I think you’re hiding it from me.”
“What? Hiding it from me?” He pursed his lips to amplify what he was trying to get across. But it was immediately clear that he was trying too hard and she was right.
“Maybe I just don’t feel like it tonight,” he said.
“So you only have these powers when you feel like it?”
“I don’t know,” he stopped. “Lexie, why are you on my case about this so much?”
“I want to know if it’s real.”
“If what is real?”
“If you are real.”
“Lexie, you’re not being yourself tonight.
“Oh, but I am, Charlie.”
“Well then maybe I don’t know who you are,” Charlie said.
“Maybe you don’t, maybe you do.”
“Lexie, is there something you want to tell me?”
“Yes,” she said and then said nothing else. She smiled slightly.
Charlie waited but nothing came.
“Well, are you going to tell me?”
“But there is something you want to tell me?”
“But you’re not going to tell me.”
“Do you now, Charlie?”
Neither said anything more. There were no more flecks in eyes, no more sideways references to who knew what. Just silence and the the hum of the bar.
“More chips?” Charlie asked.