My Life In Darkness, part six
6. The Bar
Music flooded from out of the building. Astrid opened the screen door and we came into a smoky bar room. There was a pool table in front of us with a couple of guys playing and a small crowd watching them. Along the sides there were wooden tables that were mostly empty. As soon as we walked in all eyes fell on Astrid. Tonight she was wearing some tight blue jeans and pumps along with a black tank top. A waitress with long brown hair tied back and wearing dark blue jeans with a bright red top came to greet us. Her name tag said Beth.
“Evening girls! You just sit yourselves down wherever you want.”
“Thanks. Could we see a menu, if you have one?” Astrid asked.
“Sure thing hun!” All eyes were on us as we went to one of the tables at the side. We sat down and Beth returned with a couple of menus. “Do you wish to order some drinks?” she asked.
“I’ll have a red wine.” Astrid said. “A Pinot Noir if you have one.”
“I’ll have a beer.” I said. Astrid shook her head at me.
“I need to refine your drinking habits.” She said. I shrugged my shoulders.
“I drink wine occasionally, but everyone seems to drink beer here.”
“So you wish to fit in?” she asked as she suddenly grabbed my hand from across the table.
“I guess. But if we hold hands here we may get attacked.” I told her.
“I don’t think so.” She said. Maybe in Norway they didn’t have redneck bars where you could put yourself in danger by just holding hands with someone of the same gender, but they did have them here. Astrid continued holding hands with me. I noticed a few people around the pool table were looking in our direction and muttering. Beth came back with our drinks and seemed to ignore it.
“Would you like to order some food?” she asked.
“What do you want to eat Melissa?” Astrid asked. I snatched my hand back and stared briefly at the menu stopping myself from saying “you”.
“I’ll have a burger and fries please” I said.
“And for you hun?” the waitress asked Astrid.
“I’m not hungry.” She said. Beth quickly took our menus and walked off.
“Why do you never seem to eat anything?” I asked Astrid. She just laughed and took a sip of her wine.
“Don’t worry I get enough sustenance. I had a big meal earlier and I’m not hungry at the moment.”
“I can pay for my food if that’s an issue.” I said. She looked at me darkly.
“It’s not the issue.” She said to me in a serious tone.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you.” I replied as delicately as I could.
“It’s alright.” She said in a soft tone staring into my eyes. “If I don’t want to eat, I won’t eat okay?”
“Okay.” I answered.
I don’t know whether it was because of the cook they had here or the drink Astrid had given me earlier, but the burger tasted different from any other burger I had ever eaten before. I could taste a variety of complex flavours. Even the fries tasted like the best fries I had ever eaten. I offered my burger to Astrid.
“Do you wanna bite?” I asked holding out the half-eaten burger in front of her.
“Of the burger?” she asked frowning.
“Well yeah” I said. “It’s the best one I’ve ever eaten!”
“Will it make you happier if I do?”
“Yes. It will help me feel less guilty about eating a meal in front of you.” I looked expectantly at her. She sighed and grabbed my burger and took a bite out of it. “And help yourself to the fries as well.” I added.
“Not bad.” She said.
I looked around and noticed the guys at the pool table were still giving us occasional glances. A few more people had entered the premises while I had been eating. I was trying to work out what town this was. I was pretty sure I had never been here before. There did seem to be a reasonable cross-section of people here. I got the feeling a lot of them were just passing through like us. The music blaring out of the jukebox was mostly classic rock with some occasional country. The guys around the pool table or at the bar I suspected were locals. They were laughing, drinking beer, and smoking, obviously having a good time. I felt like staying close to Astrid, this place made me feel uneasy.
“Can we go soon?” I asked Astrid.
“Sure finish your drink and we will head off.” Astrid pulled out some cash and left it with the bill. I was ready to go so I got up to leave and Astrid followed. As we walked past the pool table one of the men gave a long look at us.
“Maybe you girls should hang out with us and you’ll get to know what it’s like to be with a real man.” He said. He was tall and heavily built wearing a white singlet and jeans. He had tattoos on his muscly arms and close cropped brown hair. Astrid turned around and looked at him with a penetrating gaze.
“Whatever you have, it wouldn’t interest me.” She responded. The man looked angry and picked up a pool cue and approached us.
“Listen girl, you don’t talk back to me y’hear?”
“I’m not afraid of you.” She replied as she stood in front of me. “And if you come any nearer I’ll make you regret it.” The man laughed.
“Is that so?” he said as he continued to approach her. There was a sudden flurry of movement and within a second Astrid had pinned down the man’s head on the pool table and forced his right arm behind his back.
“I could really do some damage to you right now.” Astrid said darkly. The entire bar seemed frozen. Everyone stood there watching the unfolding drama. A feeling of tension quickly built up.
“Astrid.” I said weakly, my small thin voice trailing away into the air. Astrid stood up and in one movement pushed the man away. He landed against the wall in a loud thud. There was a look of shock on everyone’s faces. Beth approached us.
“We don’t want trouble around here!” she said to us. I could see she was shaking. Astrid gave her a derisive look and walked out of the bar. I turned around.
“I’m sorry. “ I said to her apologetically and then I quickly left following Astrid.
Next episode: In The Dark
I’ve been debating whether to post this today. To be honest the last thing I feel like doing at the moment is creative writing, but I’ve posted this story at the same time and day for the last five weeks so I thought I would continue doing so.
All I want to do is grieve for the people lost and for my city 😦
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