“Can I get some service?” grumbled Sam.
Charlii laughed. “I don’t think this bartender does anything in a hurry.”
“Whatever,” Sam mumbled, turning his back on Charlii.
Corey stood, taking Jim’s hand. “I’m ready. You?”
“Yup,” replied Jim, setting his drink down. “Thanks for the drinks, John, Margaret. We’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good night,” replied Margaret.
Sam turned to face the bar. He opened his mouth as if to call for the bartender, but Balder stood in front of him.
“I know what you’re like,” said Balder, holding his hand up. “Please, it’s my pleasure.”
Sam lifted his head in a half grin and eyed Charlii. She turned his back on him to watch three men enter the bar. They stood at the door for a moment, then the man with a well-trimmed beard pushed ahead of the others and they took a table.
“Here you go,” said Balder to Sam. Balder placed a tulip-shaped glass in front of him. Frost whitened the glass as Balder poured a clear liquid from a brown bottle, stopping with only a quarter of the glass full.
Sam reached for the glass, but Balder lifted his own hand to stop him.
“Wait,” said Balder. “You must breathe the spirit of the glass. Let it mingle in your mind. Remember the vines, the dregs, the pomace that no one wanted. The fairy in this glass respects only those who respect her.”
Sam’s eyes widened as he opened his mouth and lifted the glass. “What- ” he said then stopped. He set the glass on the bar. His nostrils flared. “Grappe,” he said. A smile widened across his face.
Charlii, having heard Balder’s story of the drink, turned to look at Sam. Her own widened with surprise. Sam’s smile was the largest in the bar. His eyes rounded, forming pools of candlelight and memory.
Sam spoke to no one in particular, but Charlii listened. “Pappa took me to my first bar. We drank Grappa. He said it tasted like home. He’d come to American as a kid, and it’s what his papa drank.”
Sam turned and smiled at Charlii. “Isn’t it funny what stirs a memory?”
Charlii didn’t answer, but Sam didn’t expect an answer. “I haven’t had a good glass since before he died. Salud, papa.”