Couple At The Bar
June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
I see them standing by the bar.
The man’s face is illuminated by a dusty bulb above his head. He’s pale, and I mean ghostly white. But his eyes are dark, real dark, and they’re practically bugging out of his head. He leans into his female companion, eyes locked on her turned-away face, his strong jaw quivering. Everything about him suggests urgency, real urgency, like the apocalypse was about to strike and blow up the whole bar. He’s wearing a grey suit, and you can tell it’s supposed to be nice, a nice suit, well-to-do. But it’s creased all over the place, and even in the dim lighting of the bar I can see the dampness around the elbows and seeping into the shoulder pads. He grabs her by the elbow now and she pushes him away, slightly unsteady on her feet. She’s got beautiful shoes, and I mean, really beautiful. The straps are encrusted with diamonds, and her whole feet shine. It’s funny, because she’s wearing a rather dull dress, an old, crumpled one that may be navy blue, it’s hard to tell. But man, do those shoes shine. They’re lighting the liquor bottles behind the cabinet, and when she moves away from him the light travels down the line of gins, sparkling, sparkling, sparkling.
She’s hoisted herself onto a bar stool now and ordered something with a lazy wag of her finger. I can’t see the bartender it’s so dark. All I can see are those damned heels. The man’s beside her again, shaking her, and when she doesn’t respond he grabs her so hard I swear I can see his knuckles go as white as that face. Of course I can’t really, but I can feel it. You can feel the blood too, because his fingernails must be digging into the exposed skin on her back, the dip in that dull dress. There’s a stirring from a few other patrons. They glance over and their eyebrows frown. But then they return to their scotch.
Now I can hear the man. His voice is traveling over the juke box, over the wailing of Billie Holiday. I can’t make out what he’s saying exactly, but it’s that same urgency. A desperation. It’s sort of spooky how I can’t hear exactly what the words are. Somehow it makes the desperation that much more so, and I wonder if I should stand up, do something. The bartender’s arrived with the drink. She reaches for it and for a moment, just a moment, her hand is illuminated beneath the glow of a lonely bulb hanging just above. And I see a beautiful hand, white and creamy. It looks soft to the touch. And sparkling on her finger is a diamond that puts those beautiful shoes of her’s to shame. It’s an enormous rock, but more than that, it’s got the power of a thousand suns. I swear, from all the way across the bar I could see that thing glinting like mad, and it almost made me blind. Like a light in the dark. Like God creating the universe. But then the hand falls slightly, just before the dusty shot glass, and the ring falls out of the circle of light. And suddenly, the man is screaming. I mean, really screaming. It’s the screaming of everything wrong with the world, the screaming that happens in those movies I don’t watch. It’s screaming that makes you want to disappear into nothingness right then and there.
And the woman’s head is face down on the bar, right next to an old piece of chewing gum, and the man in the grey coat has covered her with his crumpled body, and there’s that screaming. Screaming, screaming.
And all I know is that those shoes are shining, I mean really shining way down in the dark.