A Proper Send-off


A tilted head and a smile from the object of her lustful stares greeted Sarah's entrance.

"Well, goodness me, Jimmy, I now have two regulars," she said with some surprise. "I'll finally be able to buy that Cadillac."

"Yeah, well, I discovered this place before it was cool," Jim said cynically, his eyes not leaving the television.

"You're right," she said as her eyes went wide. "I don't know if I can take the hustle and bustle of being such a trendy hotspot."

"Money will change you," Jim agreed.

"God, it so would," she said dreamily, as if imagining her riches.

Sarah smiled. For brief moment in her fitful sleep, she'd thought she might have imagined the place, might have imagined both the woman and the bar. As Sarah walked towards the bar she was glad to see that she was wrong. The woman was even more beautiful than she remembered. Now her hair was braided behind her head and her gorgeous chest hidden behind a tight green cardigan. Now Sarah felt like the dirty old perv as she looked at the girl with the same lust. She confidently walked to the bar and took the same seat she had the day before.

"Shot and a beer," she ordered.

To her surprise, though, the bartender shook her head. "Nope, can't do it," she said. "You get one day to anonymously drink away your sorrows, but if you're going to spend all of Tuesday and Wednesday drinking here then we're going to talk and figure out why."

"I don't really want to bore you with my problems," Sarah said. It was true. She appreciated the offer, even if the sympathetic ear of the bartender struck her as a tad cliché, but she was not a sharer at the best of times. Sarah had grown up and been taught to tough out her problems, deal with them herself.

"Yeah, well, tough," the bartender said, pointing to a sign on the bar proclaiming the establishment's right to refuse service. "At the very least you're going to tell me your name and what your story is."

Sarah nodded. She could do that.

"Sarah Conover then," Sarah said, extending her hand.

"June Reilly," the bartender said, gripping the extended hand. Her grip was firm but soft and Sarah shook it with a smile.

"June, huh?" Sarah chuckled

"Yeah, yeah, I was named after my dearly departed grandmother, so no jokes" she said, clearly used to having to explain her slightly old-fashioned name

"No, I like it," Sarah said honestly. "It kind of fits."

"How so?"

"Well, you have kind of a fifties pin-up girl look, you know? Marilyn, Mansfield, that sort of thing," Sarah said with admiration, looking again at a body that seemed to defy description as well as gravity. Still, as she'd idly thought of June as she'd drifted off to her drunken sleep the night before, a pin-up model from that era struck her as the best comparison.

"Is that good?" June asked as she set a beer down in front of Sarah,

"Oh yeah," Sarah exclaimed with, she thought, perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm. June smiled and turned to Jim with a broad grin.

"See, told you," June said, leaning forward to playfully swat at the older man's arm with her bar towel. He reached back into his wallet and pulled out a crinkled five-dollar bill.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Jim said wearily.

Sarah looked at the exchange with a little confusion. A look that June caught.

"We bet as to whether or not you were gay."

Sarah was a little taken back. She wasn't sure she liked being the subject of that bet. She wasn't used to her sexuality being a matter of public discussion and it made her feel a brief flash of panic. Sarah had to remind herself that she no longer had professional reasons to worry anymore about anyone knowing she was gay and she had no other concerns about being outed.

"Congratulations," Sarah said, tilting her beer towards the victorious June.

"Eh, I sort of cheated," June shrugged, tucking the five dollars into the front pocket of her jeans. "I was on the receiving end of your stares all day yesterday,"

Sarah could feel herself blush a little. She'd tried to been discreet and was disturbed to learn she'd failed so completely.

"Sorry, I just--"

June shook her head. "Don't apologize, I'm hot, " June said with absolute confidence in her words. "People stare at me all the time,"

Sarah had to smile. Both at the exchange and at the confidence on display. Sarah knew that many people considered her attractive. She'd certainly turned down enough fellow soldiers over the years to know she could turn a head if she needed it. Not in a million years, however, would Sarah have stated her own hotness the way June just had. Coming from a woman as gorgeous as June, though, it didn't strike Sarah as conceit or arrogance, just a simple statement of fact.

"Hey June," Jim broke in, "any chance you could lend me five bucks? I need to pay for my drinks."

June nodded and produced the same five-dollar bill from her pocket, sliding it across the bar to Jim.

Sarah laughed. She didn't know why but just being in this bar seemed to put her in a better mood. Even if June wasn't in her future, Sarah still liked the interplay between June and Jim and especially liked having permission to look at June. Sarah found herself thankful she'd found the place. Looking around the bar, Sarah had to admit that her initial impressions of the place might have been a bit unfair. True, some of the fixtures and furniture looked old and worn but it looked authentic, worn-in. It looked like the place that had seen many a good time over the years.

"So, Sarah Conover," June said, "What's your story? The abridged version, if you like."

"Like I said--"

"Like I said," June interjected, "We're going to get to know each other if you're going to be a regular. You can leave out the drinking parts, I just need backstory,"

Sarah thought it over. She could manage revealing something. She tried to give the Cliff's Notes of her life.

"Well, I'm twenty-six. Grew up in Southern California. Mom left when I was three. Dad raised me in his auto-body shop. Died when I was nineteen. Joined the Army as a mechanic. Served for five years. Have a sixth to go. Found a bar with a nosy bartender."

"Fair enough."

"How about you?" Sarah asked

June shook her head."Wasn't part of the deal."

"Fair's fair," Sarah insisted, putting her empty beer bottle down on the bar. June nodded and grabbed another from the fridge.

"Uh, raised here. I'm twenty-two. Pretty normal I guess. Went to art school. Realized photography was not the get-rich quick guarantee I'd always assumed it to be. My Uncle Pat died and left me his bar," June recounted.

"To Patty," Jim interjected, raising his whiskey to a small framed picture behind the bar. It was of an older, heavy-set man with a small girl that Sarah recognized as a younger version of her bartender. "He knew more about baseball and was a faster pourer than his wastrel of a niece."

June reached back for a bottle of the stuff and took a swig herself. "Yeah, but I'm better scenery." June winced at the straight shot of whiskey, even as she nodded her agreement with Jim. She turned back to Sarah to continue, "So anyways I decided to go with struggling small business owner over starving artist which means technically you found a bar with a nosy owner, not a nosy bartender,"

Sarah nodded. There were things about the story that didn't entirely add up to her though.

"Wait, if you own the place, then what was the deal yesterday? About the bar policy and you not being able to change it?" Sarah questioned sharply, proud of herself for catching June in a lie.

"God's honest truth, I'm afraid. It was in the will, most I can charge anyone in or retired from the service is five bucks" June said plainly, continuing to wipe the bar down. "Pat served most of his life before he opened this place. His policy."

"Oh," Sarah said

" I'm not inclined to change the policy, being a grateful patriot and all that," June said genuinely. "I mean, if not for your sacrifices and the sacrifices of those before you I wouldn't have all this."

Sarah tried to figure out if that were sarcasm at the state of the bar or genuine sentiment. She gave up without coming to a decision.

June continued "Besides, even if I were inclined to do so, Jimmy here served with Pat and would totally rat me out to the lawyers if I thought of changing things."

Jim nodded his agreement. "Too right I would."

"So, wait," Sarah said. "Me and Jim are the only ones here. And we're both vets. And the most you can charge either of us for drinking all day is five dollars?"

"Like I said," June shrugged, "It's a struggling business,"

"And you get by, in this economy?"

"Eh, it's not all bad. My uncle owned the building outright which includes the apartment upstairs so, you know, no rent either way there," June explained. "And every now and then someone gets drunk and buys one of the photos."

June motioned to the bar and Sarah followed. Sarah hadn't noticed them before but rather than the typical photos of sports teams or bar patrons most places had, O'Flaherty's had black picture frames, filled with images that even Sarah, who cared little for art, found striking. There were various buildings and images of the waterfront, even one of Jim, beer in hand. Sarah had thought of him as just an old drunk but looking at the photo, she saw another side. The photo made him look wise and gregarious and someone who fit perfectly into his surroundings. Sarah had to admire the skill, even if she didn't know how to describe it.

"Oops," Jim said, having turned slightly towards Sarah and then back to June. "She's looking at the photos,"

"I am." Sarah nodded. "They're awesome."

"Plus," June said, changing the subject, "I totally flirt with all of the beer and booze distributors for a discount."

"I'd give you one," Sarah had to admit as she took a sip of her beer.

The banter continued for a while. Sarah found herself relaxing even more, enjoying herself immensely.

June, for her part, seemed to welcome a change of pace from her constant interaction with Jim. Sarah was plain spoken and smart and June warmed to her quickly. The three of them quipped for a few minutes before they were interrupted as Jim stood up and made his way to the bathroom.

"Remember, it's accuracy, not speed," June called after him as he disappeared behind the bar. She turned to walk to Sarah's end of the bar, propping herself up on her hands and lifting herself up to sit next to where Sarah's beer was. It was the closest June had been to Sarah and she was again reminded of just how attracted she was to the busty younger woman. Sarah inhaled deeply. She wasn't sure how, but even in this place June had the unmistakable smell of vanilla and something else.

"So let me ask you," June said, her voice dropping a bit, "how did you know you were gay?"

Sarah looked up at her, surprised slightly by the boldness of the question for a moment before realizing it fit perfectly with what she knew of June so far. June did not strike her as being cautious and conservative and had a tendency to speak her mind. If June wanted to know how Sarah had known she was gay, Sarah realized decorum or a lack of familiarity would have held her back. Sarah thought about it for a second before responding somewhat defensively.

"I don't know," Sarah said with a sip of her beer. "How did you know you were straight?"

June was taken back. She hadn't expected that response and had to think about it for a second.

"Not sure. Just instinct, I suppose," June shrugged

"There you go." Sarah tipped her beer in June's direction. She couldn't have summed it up better.

"Well, okay, sure," June conceded the logic. "But at least you had to have had something where you realized you were outside the norm."

Sarah thought about it. She was surprised a little by the intimacy of the conversation, but there was something about June that just brought it out of her.

"Best I can do, I guess, is years back, when I was just starting to work in my dad's shop and some of the other guys brought in a girly calendar. Hung it up, you know?" Sarah said, remembering something from years back, "My dad saw it and said to the guys, you know, 'not around Sarah' and all that and I was like 'doesn't everyone like looking at pictures of girls?'"

June laughed. Sarah joined her.

"But that's, you know, not really it though" June continued, "I mean, I can appreciate the female form and I can look at a girl and say, 'wow, hottie.'"

Sarah wanted to point out the differences between admiration for the form and being turned on by it, but caught herself. She saw an opportunity to do some of her own digging.

"And you've never been curious?" Sarah asked slyly.

June gave a non-committal shrug. "Curious about being with another woman?" June inquired.

"Yup," Sarah said, trying to hide her interest. She very much wanted to hear June admit to an interest. A burning one. One she'd always had and wanted to act on, maybe in art college, but had never gotten the chance and could maybe Sarah help her realize it?

Sarah smiled to herself as she let herself get a little carried away with her imagination. June, however, looked fairly disinterested although contemplative.

"I mean, maybe? But I'm curious about lots of things," June said matter-of-factly. "What's it like to shoot heroin or eat ostrich or go walk for a walk in space. So, yeah, what's it like to bang a chick? You could say I'm curious about that. Not to the point of I gots to have it though."

"Fair enough," Sarah admitted, her hopes mildly dashed

"Besides," June said, hopping down from the bar and giving Sarah a terrific view of her bouncing chest. "Lesbian sex always strikes me as so random,"

"How's that?" Sarah asked, not sure if she should feel insulted or not.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's super," June said quickly. "But like with a guy it's pretty straight-forward. We fool around, maybe I go down on him, maybe he goes down on me but sex is pretty clearly the tab-A into slot-B act. With chicks, sex is going to vary, right? Like maybe it's that you two go down on each other or 69 or it's just fingers or it's toys. But sex can mean anything and it seems like it would take a while to get on the same page."

"Sounds like you've thought about it a lot," Sarah teased. "But that's the fun of it. It can be anything. You and your partner can work out what you like with each other and develop your routine together and eventually you find what works for the both of you."

"And that, right there," June said, "is one of the biggest reasons I stick to the menfolk. Because this here,"June's hands waived over her body, "is a relationship-drama free zone. I do not get attached and I do not find things out eventually. This machine hits and quits."

"That would make guys the safer bet, I guess," Sarah, drawing back on her own experiences, had to concede that no-strings attached sex would be easier to find, especially for a gorgeous girl like June, among guys.

The day passed with the two women talking extensively about whatever happened to cross their minds. Sarah grew very impressed with June's wit, self-confidence and openness. The conversation occasionally veered into the realm of flirtatiousness but the two kept it light and fun. Sarah had to admit that she was losing track of her troubles. In just two quick days, Sarah had gone from feeling completely alone to feeling like, at the very least, she had a regular bar and a good friend.

Again Sarah stayed at O'Flaherty's the entire day and, when she made her exit, promised to return the next day. Sarah knew, as she took one last look at the girl behind the bar, that she'd be there on both of her last days of leave.


"C'mon, seriously, Daddy?" June asked.

As expected, Sarah had returned the next day to the pub and had immediately gotten back into her normal rhythm with June. Sarah drank and the two of them traded stories and jokes. For the first time, Jim was not occupying the seat at the other end of the bar and the two women were the establishment's sole occupants. Because of this, their conversation had turned far more personal. They had been trading stories of particularly memorable sexual encounters when Sarah had started one of her own, one designed to highlight how incredible sex could be with another woman. Sarah had not yet given up on the idea of bedding June and wanted to tell a story to put June on the spot.

"Yeah, a few times." Sarah shrugged. "Get a girl hot enough, fuck her well enough, sometimes she calls you daddy."

"Huh, weird," June said as she threw her bar towel over her shoulder.

"You've never heard of a girl saying that during sex?" Sarah asked. She knew it wasn't the most common thing in the world but she knew it shouldn't have shocked anyone as seemingly open as June.

"No, I've heard of it before," June said, "I've just never heard of a woman calling another woman it. Doesn't that, I don't know, contravene the lesbian/feminist bible? Attach masculine terminology to a feminist act?"

"Reclaimed as gender-neutral I suppose," Sarah said, sipping her beer with a sly smile. If she didn't know better, she'd have sworn she saw a twinkle in June's bright green eyes as the topic was discussed,

"It's a powerful thing," Sarah continued. "An acknowledgement of submission or, I don't know, just how completely a strong woman can rock your world,"

"And you like that, do you?" June asked turning towards the beer fridge,. "I don't seek it out or anything," Sarah said, finishing her beer. "But, hey, I can fuck as well as any guy. I certainly don't mind the admission of just how solidly I rang a girl's bell,"

"Ah, so that's it," June said, putting the beer down in front of Sarah.

Sarah looked at her quizzically as June leaned in towards her. June was close enough for Sarah to smell again, that same heady rush of vanilla and what Sarah had placed as jasmine. June was close enough for Sarah to reach out, grab and kiss. Sarah had to fight the urge with everything she had.

"You picture picking up some straight girl," June's eyes narrowed as she continued, her voice softening to a breathy purr, "seducing her to your wicked ways with your lesbian wiles, then, in the throes of her unbelievable ecstasy she calls you daddy."

Sarah had to hold back a lump in her throat and grip her beer tightly. The slim, stacked barmaid's seductive tone and look was easily the sexiest thing that Sarah had ever seen. When June had practically moaned the word 'daddy,' Sarah had worried she'd completely lose control.

"Acknowledging that you've fucked her better than any man ever has or even could," June finished, her face almost looking as if it were in the throes of the very ecstasy she was describing.

"Something like that," Sarah managed to get out. June's large, soft lips were just inches from her face now. Sarah wanted to bite them, to suck one into her mouth as she wrestled the girl to the floor and gave June some first hand knowledge of the subject. As she was lost in the fantasy, however, June leaned back from where she'd been leaning over the bar, her look and tone reverting to usual.

"Nah, I just don't buy it." June shook her head definitively. "I mean, it strikes me as something a little hot to say if you're trying to get a guy to knock you up maybe, but not a chick."

Sarah had to catch her breath. She caught a wink from June and had to collect herself. Sarah had told the story intending to get June to contemplate how great sex with Sarah could be and, as she typically did, June had completely turned the tables on her.

June caught the look on Sarah's face and laughed. "Conover, I gotta say," June chuckled, "it's been a blast having you around,"

"Yeah, a blast." Sarah nodded, still feeling a slickness between her legs and heat in her chest,

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