Lou Cypher

June 2022 Flash Challenge, Day 12

Photo by Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

The first thing I noticed about him was that he dressed impeccably in a black silk suit, the whitest shirt I’ve ever seen, and a red silk pocket square. His beard was salt and pepper but neatly maintained, and he carried himself with crazy confidence. His eyes were friendly but never invasive or familiar. Several people watched him stroll into my bar, sit down and drink, but you could tell he sought validation in no one’s eyes.

His drink? A classic martini, naturally.

Occasionally, he would comment about the weather or how the Yankees were looking in the playoffs, but mostly he sat silently nursing his drink.

He sat on his stool for nearly three hours and drank seven martinis.


“Last call,” I say to the man.

He shakes his head once, an efficient, minimal, crisp gesture.

“Just the check, please.”

I total his drinks: $82.50.

I lay the shallow tray with his bill before him.

A sleek, black credit card appears at his fingertips.

I force myself not to ask for another trick.

The entire card is black. The printing is also black, making it difficult to read, but each letter is embossed; I hold the card at an angle to catch the light from the lamp above the cash register.

I read his name.

Lou Cypher.

That’s an odd name, I think.

I return his card with the card authorization slip and a pen.

I turn away to begin closing down. Lou was my last customer, and I’m ready to be home.

When I turn back, he is gone. Funny, I didn’t hear the brass bell above the front door on his way out.

I pick up his signed slip.

The man had left me an enormous gratuity.

$583.50, the single largest tip of my life.

Then I scroll down and see the totaled amount is $666.00.

I remember his name. I can only laugh to myself as I return to my closing ritual.

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