|In the bar by ~onesummerago|
"Hi, is this seat taken?"
He looked up from the menu he had be staring at the last 15 minutes, a little surprised to be shaken out of his daze.
"I'm sorry.. Yes. No, I mean.. I'm just.. it's free, yes."
The girl laughed, a small quick release, as if he had said the wittiest thing she'd heard all night. Given the state of the bar they were in though, and it's patrons, it may have been. The poor lighting made it difficult for him to accurately distinguish her features, but from what he could tell she was about his height, his age, a little over-dressed and definitely over-perfumed. Her dark hair was tied up in what may or may not have been a fashionable way - he never knew anything about these things.
She sat down gently, as if the booth's seat might let go at any minute, and stretched a well-ringed hand towards him.
"Hi, my name is Carla."
He took it, timidly, and replied; "You already said 'hi'."
"What's that?", she said, her face suddenly going blank.
"You.. you said 'hi', twice. I was just.. my name is John."
"Hi! Nice to meet you John!"
She continued smiling, waiting for him to continue the conversation. He declined.
"Where you from, John?", she blurted out, unperturbed.
"Around. Excuse me, but I'd like to be left alone. I'm waiting for my - I'm waiting for my wife.."
She laughed again, an elaborate gesture involving her entire upper body, that was still somehow devoid of real volume. It clashed completely with the stiff, staccato tone that John had just used.
"Oh c'mon, John, you're way too young to be married, surely! Besides, you've been waiting here a while, am-I-right?"
She smiled again. She smiled a lot.
"She's a little late, perhaps..", he offered weakly, glancing at his watch.
"No way, John, you're a bad liar." She suddenly leaned forward and took his hand before he could react. "Besides, no ring!".
She leaned back, looking pleased at her deductive skills. His silence simply confirmed her assumptions, and she smiled. Wider.
He sighed, a deep and tired sigh, and didn't respond.
"It's okay sweety, I understand. Some stranger sits in your booth with you, and you don't know what to think, right?", she said, in a patronizing tone.
She put her hands up and said, "Oh don't be! The world is a crazy place, I don't blame you. " More smiles, more gesticulating. He tried to go back to reading his menu.
"How about we start again? Hi! My name is Carla, I like a good time, and you're name is John, and you like being all blue and.. -"
"My wife died", he said suddenly, numbly.
The transformation was almost instantaneous. Carla suddenly became serious, the rest of her playful ramble snatched out of her lips. First he saw surprise, and then perhaps the flicker of deep sorrow and sympathy flit across her face.
"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry. I didn't know, I mean, I ..."
"It's okay. Car accident. Two months ago today."
This time there was definitely sympathy, as Carla leaned back in her seat without saying a word, her hand involuntarily touching her mouth. She looked around the bar now, for the first time unsure of herself. It was almost empty, with a few stubborn patrons semi-conscious on the counter, staring into space. She looked back at him, attempted to say something, but words failed her.
She reached her hand towards his, and was about to say something when a voice suddenly yelled out from behind the bar; "Lisa!"
A large, burly man had just stepped in from the back entrance and was walking towards their booth.
"Lisa, goddam it, how many times do I have to throw you out of this place??", he bellowed, moving quickly for such a large man.
It was now Carla's turn to look down at her menu, trying to blend in to the furniture, but the large man walked straight up to her, rudely pulling her up by her elbow and pushing her towards the door. She struggled and tried to protest
"Man, I'm just talking to this guy..!"
But he was having nothing of it;
"Oh don't even try, I've heard enough of your stories! Now get out! And tell that pimp of yours I'll take care of him permanently if I see you or any of his other little toys here again!"
And just like that she was gone. The man, presumably the bartender, turned and slowly returned to the booth, looking back at the door as if to make sure she wouldn't return. He then turned, and looked down at John, whose eyes barely left the menu.
"It's late.", he said gently. John didn't budge.
He rolled his eyes, muttered to himself before reaching down to take the menu out of John's hands.
"Go home, your wife must be worried about you. You know how she gets, and she's just going to call this place any minute now. As usual."
John's shoulders dropped a little, but remained seated.
"Dammit, you have a kid on the way, you shouldn't be out here drinking like this every night. Go home, okay?"
Still nothing, not a word. The disgruntled bartender finally says firmly, "Jacob! Go home! NOW!"
The man stirs, finally, and slowly gets out of the booth. He looks up at the stern expression on the bartenders face, but finding no sympathy there, he slowly makes his way to the door, one unsteady step at a time, and leaves.
This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Jamelah, who gave me this prompt: A conversation beings with a lie -- Adrienne Rich "Cartographies of Silence". I challenged Andrea with the prompt : A lot of movies these days have an extra scene after the credits roll; a little twist to leave the viewers with - write a scene that would occur after the final chapter of a popular fairy tale or children's story.