The Guanacaste Castle resort was open year round. If you had money, you could be its guest anytime. Drunks, prostitutes, drug dealers, even kids were allowed in. It’s main attraction was the beach located on the resort’s west side. The beach was connected to a stone walkway that led to each of the resort’s other buildings. It was lit up by vintage Costa Rican streetlights all the way to the resort’s main building. The main building included the lobby, the rooms, and the bar. Benjamin sat behind the wooden bar every other day, covering the late hours of the day with his wisdom and charm. He looked to be in his late fifties, with his balding head and grey beard. During the nights that he did not serve drunk or soon to be drunk people, he stayed in his hotel room. It was small by his American standards, but sufficient for writing. It had a bathroom, a kitchen, and a two seat sofa. On the sofa laid a laptop that he would use to write tales from his youth, or articles for random magazines. The articles never paid more than ten dollars a piece, but they kept him busy.
On this Friday night, he was stuck behind the bar, mindlessly wiping the wooden counter with a soggy dishrag. Each wipe left a drizzle of the translucent buildup of water, coke, beer, wine, gin, vodka, and whatever else the guests would spill. He wiped, however, in the hope that it would allow his conscious mind to be focused on a menial task, so his subconscious mind could give him ideas. The ideas were usually memories of his younger self, memories that he would turn into short stories to either publish or read to kids within his extended family. As he wiped, he stared at the ground. No matter how much he wiped, no ideas came. He’d lived life to the fullest, yet he couldn’t remember any of it. The alcohol drank, and time passed were sure contributors to such a poor memory, he thought.
He stopped wiping, and looked in front of him. A thirty something man had sat down on a stool with his arms on the counter. He too had a look that combined confusion and hopelessness.
“Can I get you something?”
“Yeah,” the man said, his right hand pressed on his cheek, “I’d like a gin martini.”
Benjamin nodded. He grabbed a green bottle of dry gin, a green bottle of vermouth, and poured a little bit of each into a glass full of ice.
“Stirred, please,” the man added.
Benjamin nodded once more, and stirred the alcoholic concoction. After stirring for what he felt was thirty seconds, he grabbed a julep strainer, and strained what was now a gin martini into a wide martini glass. He handed it over to the man. The man handed Benjamin a twenty dollar bill. Due to the resort being all-inclusive, receiving money was unusual for Benjamin.
“Hello, sir,” he said, holding the bill in between his fingers, “the drink is part of the all-inclusive pricing. You don’t need to pay.”
“I know. That’s a tip. You seem like a good bartender — and I won’t be needing it for much longer.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, where do I start,” said the man, now pressing the top of the bridge of his nose, “I’ve been feeling like no matter what I do, I remain incomplete. I have an expensive car, an expensive house, and an expensive wife. Even with all of that, I’m unhappy.”
Benjamin had gone through a similar problem, the problem of having a thirst for something more.
Benjamin felt compelled to say something, “I haven’t had any interesting stories to tell my family in a long time, so I don’t feel all that well, either. My name’s Benjamin, by the way.”
“Ron”, the man replied.
With Ron on one corner, a pair of women approached the other corner of the ‘L’ shaped bar. The lights that hung from behind the Benjamin shun bright on one of the woman’s green dress. The other wore a white dress. The bride’s dress had ruffles and ribbons that covered the corset that did a poor job at making her look slim, while her friend’s flat green dress had a stain on the woman’s right hip. The bride had tear marks running down her face, while the woman in green had a worried look on hers. As the bride sat down on the now flimsy wooden stool, she snapped her fingers at Benjamin. The snap drew Ron’s attention, too, but only long enough for him to notice the woman in green. He smiled. There was something magical about seeing an attractive Latin woman to a mid westerner. In between blinks, he became content.
“What’s the drink with the highest percentage of alcohol?” the bride asked.
“Well,” Benjamin thought, “there’s a drink called Cocoroco. It’s ninety-three percent alcohol, it comes from–”
“That one,” she said, holding back tears.
“And what about you?” Benjamin asked, looking at the woman in green.
“I’d like a cocktail,” she said, preventing herself from mentioning the cocktails inappropriate name, “A cocktail with vodka, orange juice, cranberry, and peach schnapps.”
Benjamin nodded with a smile.
As he prepared their drinks, the bride cried into the woman’s green dress, while the woman in green tried to console her.
Benjamin looked at the woman in green, motioning his head towards the bride, as a way of asking what happened.
“This is my friend. I met her earlier this week outside the resort, and was invited to her wedding. My friend caught her new husband lying beside another woman on a lawn chair at the beach,” she revealed, “they married earlier this week.” She spoke with a mild, yet noticeable central American accent.
“I can’t say I’ve ever heard of something like that happening before.”
“Neither could I,” the woman in green said, looking at a thin hole on the bar’s counter top, “some men are just awful.”
Ron took a break from sipping on his martini, and looked over, “just men?”
“Well, I’m sure some women are just as bad.”
“You’re damn right they are,” the man said.
They both sighed. While Ron’s gaze moved on to his drink, the woman’s gaze remained on Ron.
The women got their drinks.
“You have no idea what it’s like to have a man cheat on you with some skank,” the bride said, “especially a few days after getting married.”
While Ron’s life felt meaningless, the bride felt like hers was worse. Getting cheated on within a week of marriage was much worse than living life without meaning, she thought, since all meaning came from marriage.
“Do you know who that woman is?” asked Benjamin.
“No,” she said, taking rapid sips of her drink, “I just know that she was wearing a dark green dress. She had is wrapped around her head as she ran away. Kind of like an elongated turban.”
Benjamin raised his eyebrows. Not being a fan of marriage, he found the bride’s tale more interesting than sad. In fifteen years of bartending, he’d never seen someone get cheated on during their tropical marriage. It made him smile. He didn’t get joy out of people’s misery, he got joy in spite of people’s misery. Dramatic stories like these were rarities in non-fictional life.
Ron put his glass on the counter, “did this happen at night?”
“Yes,” the bride replied, quieting her sobs, “just half an hour ago. Why?”
“Well,” Ron said, now making eye contact with the bride, “since the beach is unlit at night, a light green dress would look dark green. Whoever had sex with your husband was wearing a light green dress.”
The bride looked to her right, noticing her new friend’s dress was light green. In a matter of seconds, her sobs were gone, and she became furious. She began to look the woman up and down, until she found a stain on her Costa Rican friend’s right hip. The stain was without colour, but not transparent. It managed to darken the fabric slightly, much like water. They exchanged some words in the form of loud whispers. Benjamin and Ron looked on with depraved smiles on their faces, waiting in anticipation.
“I know it’s weird, but I feel better already. Watching what’s likely going to happen – interests me. I haven’t felt anything so real in a long time,” Ron said, his martini now finished.
“Huh,” Benjamin added, “I feel better as well.”