Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fiction Friday: Methuselah - Barfly

For other posts in the series, visit the Methuselah page on this blog. 

Sell Art Online
Glen stepped through the doorway, removed his sunglasses and waited for his eyes to adjust to the scant light that managed to make its way through the grimy windows.

The bar was long and narrow, with a scattering of tables and mismatched chairs and a couple of booths. The table tops had that look of ill-wiped stickiness that he loathed. He stopped at the bar to order a beer with a whiskey chaser, then made his way to the back, as he'd been instructed, and took a seat near the door to the kitchen.

He swung his messenger bag onto the floor and looked around while waiting for his drink. He rested his forearms on the table and felt the waxen surface grab his hairs. He frowned slightly as he lifted them off the table and sat back. He watched a couple of flies mating and swung his hand at them so they flew away.

He had a couple days' growth of beard and his clothes looked like they'd been slept in. They hadn't, but he wasn't in the mood for ironing. Or folding, for that matter. He hadn't washed his hair in days, so it hung lank in curls near the nape of his neck. He hoped that he fit in with this crowd, that no one would guess there was a million reals in cash in his bag.

At the table next to his, a middle-aged woman was doing something with fabric while she nursed a dark, cold drink, droplets of condensation dripping down its sides. Her hair was dyed that dull black that spoke of desperation to hide grey hair and she looked like someone who had once been stunningly beautiful. She was seated so that she had a clear view of the entire room and was watching the front of the bar closely.

At the front of the bar, nearer the windows, two men, tourists likely, were making eyes at a couple of barflies who were seated at stools by the bar, their bare legs extended in invitation, blouses clinging with desperation to contain their curves.

Finally one of the men approached the women and invited them to the table for a round of drinks. Party's on, thought Glen, as the women joined the men, and he found himself aroused despite his disgust at the exchange.

Moments after the bartender delivered his drinks, another man entered the bar and grabbed a beer. Hair slicked back, beard neatly trimmed, and wearing a leather jacket with clean jeans, he clearly did not care about fitting in. He strode with confidence to the back of the bar, nodded at the black-haired woman and sat down beside Glen, dropping his own messenger bag onto the floor between them.

"Hot out," he stated and smiled at Glen.

"Not in Alaska," Glen replied as he'd been instructed. "Did you bring my things?"

"Jesus! Give it a minute, would you? Pretend you know me. Smile, for Christ's sake."

Glen managed to squeeze out a nervous laugh. "So how're you enjoying your vacation?"

"Well, you know, the women are pretty damned sweet here." He glanced at the women up front and broadened his smile to show a row of perfectly white teeth. The foursome was getting increasingly raucous.

The black-haired woman walked up to the group and announced that the next round of drinks was on the house. Cheers erupted and the women celebrated by planting kisses on the men's cheeks.

Back in the shadows, Glen started to get into the groove of his conversation as it meandered  across manly interests like breasts, sports, whiskey, and cars.

His patience was wearing thin, however.

Finally the partiers arose, the men hanging on the shoulders of the women who, despite their four-inch heels were more stable than the men. They left the bar.

He glanced over at the older woman who was now smiling as she lifted her needlework. It was a child's skirt, a schoolgirl's uniform. Glen couldn't help huffing in disgust and shaking his head.

Only after they had left did Glen's companion cut to the chase. "The papers are in the bag. You can look in the bag, but don't pick it up yet."

Glen bent over and looked. He saw a passport and flicked it open. Looked legit to him, but he wouldn't know, really.

"It's all authentic," the man said, as if reading Glen's mind. "You won't have any problems."

"You can check my bag," Glen offered.

The man snickered and rolled his eyes a little, as if Glen were stating the obvious. The man, whose name Glen never learned, pulled an ultra-violet penlight from his chest pocket and flashed it over the bills as he fanned each stack.

"Yah, those dudes are in for a fun party," he concluded as he hoisted the bag over his shoulder and dropped a generous pile of bills on the table. "Safe travels."

Glen was about to leave when the black-haired woman approached him.

"You think I don't know you're judging me? You think you're some fucking god who can come here and judge me for my business? Listen, you fuck. You're white, you're a man, and you're rich," she glanced at his feet. "Nice boots." They were hand-tooled, custom-made hiking boots. He hadn't thought they would stand out.

"You own the world," she spat at him. "You don't get to judge people like me who make hard choices every goddamned day. So take your skinny ass out of here and don't come back."

Glen gathered his bag and left with a hangdog expression. He didn't know what his next step was, but he knew he had to get out of town.

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