“Here’s to the bar!” Steve said and gulped down the cold beer.
They laughed with him.
Of course they would. It was a genuine lawyer joke after all.
“Another round for me and the girl,” Steve said to the voluptuous waitress passing by him.
“You bastard.” Chuck threw the beer on his face and giggled like a girl.
He was the bastard alright, but they, they were the sissies. What he enjoyed was, being the macho among the group. They turned to him when in trouble. And they came running to him when they needed to party.
He wiped away the sticky beer by his hands and smiled.
“Hey! Stop wasting the drinks. Your mama won’t pay for it,” he said.
Everybody knew. Chuck was a mama’s boy.
“I am not paying for the drinks,” he said, his face suddenly growing serious.
Of course he would. He was the nerd. He was the idiot in the group. They were all going to pin it on him. And Steve would be the first to begin.
“Then who is,” asked Aristotle, holding the beer glass right by his mouth.
Another one. He never knew how to have fun.
“Someone sure is,” Steve said.
They all chortled out in humor. How easy they were to fool. He did it every day. He was going to do it now.
“Hey, I know how to decide,” Steve said.
“Rock paper scissors?” Peter asked.
What? Was he ten? Peter always chipped in to ruin the moment. Well, he was negligible today.
“No my lady,” he said and chuckled and the others joined him too. “We’ll play. Let’s have drinks. All you can. Anyone who wants out, can, without paying.”
He looked at the others.
They were watching him intently. Waiting to hear the catch.
“But…” he said, “With a girl.”
“Ohh,” Chuck said.
Steve couldn’t help but smile. There was no way chuck could get a girl to go back with him.
“The one who’s last, can pay the bill and leave,” he said.
That was superb. The guys were melting in fear. That’s what he loved about the nights at the bar.
“That’s ridiculous. I’d never get lucky,” Aristotle said.
His face looked like a curious owl. Steve laughed.
“So you agree you are a loser?” he said.
“No way!” he retaliated.
“Then let’s play it out,” Steve said.
The waitress came back with a tray full of chilled beers. Each grabbed their own glass.
“Cheers!” they all chanted in chorus.
Steve gulped his cold drink while scanning for dames around the bar.
Chick entering through the door. Too thin.
Chick in blue dress, too classy. Maybe, melancholic. He hated the type. The one talking to her, too ugly.
Another one sitting few feet apart from the two, all alone. Not too fat, not too thin, just about right. He found his prey and his ticket out of the bar.
Steve got up, with his beer in his right hand, his left hand rose and patted Chuck on his back.
“I hope your mama takes you in, because, I have found my girl,” he said.
The others smirked at him while Chuck gnashed his teeth, his hands folded tightly.
“Besides,” he said smiling at Chuck. “What’s a night without a lassie, eh?”
He heard the rest laugh as he walked towards her.
Blonde, right leg folded on top of her left, wearing a short skirt and a tight top, he knew she was out to have fun.
Steve slowly climbed up on the rotating chair next to her.
“How about,” he started to say.
“I am not interested,” she said, without glancing at him.
“I haven’t even played my cards yet,” he said.
“I know what you hold,” she said, dipping the olive in the drink.
She was trying to play miss nice while the fact seemed far from it. She was there, all alone, she wanted to have some fun. Well, he knew exactly how to tackle such women.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” he said, twisting the chair in the opposite direction. Jumping out of it, he smiled. “I didn’t realize you were gay.”
He heard her yank in shock. If he played it right, she’d call him out, explaining herself, in just about a second.
He started to walk away, slowly, but steadily.
“Hey, you,” he heard her elevated voice from behind.
Never failed to work. He smiled at his ingenuity and turned around, making a straight flushed face, as if, he knew nothing.
“What?” he asked.
“I’m not gay,” she said, her eyes wide and nose puffy.
“Come on, it’s okay. I can see it. You are here, waiting for someone. You don’t even look at the man trying a pick up line, what else could be the problem.”
“I need a break, okay?” She dropped the olive back in the drink and glanced at him, as if about to slap him.
“Boyfriend trouble?” he asked.
She pulled her head a little back and her fingers clutched together. “How did you know,” she said.
“You came here to piss someone off, obviously.”
“Obviously?” she interrupted before he could go on about her appearance.
“Yeah, your dress, your make up. You want to look attractive. But you are not looking at anyone. You ordered a dirty martini but you are still toying with that olive as if you have no intention of drinking it.”
“You a detective or something?” she asked smiling.
“Better, I am a lawyer.”
“Ooh! A hotshot lawyer in New York.” She finally took that toothpick and tossed down the olive. Her eyes squinted as she chewed it.
She wasn’t the pretty blonde he always met. They were mostly the gorgeous model types. This one was different. With glasses and messy hair.
“Yeah, you got a problem with that?”
“Not me, my boyfriend does,” she said.
“Is he here?”
“Yeah,” she said, looking right into his eyes. Probably surprised by how much he knew.
“Where is he?” he asked.
“He is sitting right across me, table four by the window,” she said, her head dipping low, sipping the drink little by little.
He shifted a little on his chair to take a sip of his beer then maybe, glance at the girl’s dorky lover.
“Don’t look at him directly,” she said, jerking on her seat.
Jeez. Girls were so serious these days. They didn’t know how to have real fun.
“I said I am a lawyer, not a dentist. I’m not stupid.” he said.
“Sorry, my bad!” She gulped the whole drink at once.
Atta girl. He loved it when girls were high. But this one was a far chance. Besides, she wasn’t his type. She was exactly what he needed to get out of the bar, make his friends believe, he was getting lucky tonight.
Steve slowly twisted in his chair, as if shaking off his head from a bug and sneaked a peak at the guy on table four.
The guy was a lot heavy, as compared to the girl.
“Wow. He’s heavy,” he said.
“Heavy? That’s it? You didn’t notice anything else?” she asked.
What was she talking about? Guy looked really huge. Nothing besides that. He slowly turned his head to look at him. Fine he was a bit handsome. But nothing more.
Wait a minute.
Did he see a badge or a uniform?
Steve didn’t want to look again. He looked at the girl again.
She was smiling.
“He’s a cop?” he asked.
This time, he was the one jerking on his seat. It was a bad night with a bad move. Why did he pick this girl out of the others? He should have known. Damn it. Loud clothes, beefy makeup and yet unperturbed, the girl had backup.
He needed to add that in his list.
“May be, you oughta move?” she said, obviously, teasing him.
He was wrong. She did know how to have fun. He was the idiot tonight.
He tried not to look as flushed as he felt. He lifted his beer glass and dunked it all at once.
Whoa. That was fast. Body light, head flying, he got the kick he was looking for.
“Why, is he going to arrest me?” he asked.
“Not unless I cry for help,” she said.
Yeah. She was having fun alright.
“Are you?” he asked.
“Not unless you get rough with me,” she said.
Now she was talking. All this time, she pretended to be Miss nicey pants and now all of a sudden, she was being the bad ass lassie. He loved it.
“Oh, I can be gentle,” he said.
“Easy, Mr. I am not looking for anything. I came here to piss him off and I think I have done enough harm already. So don’t you get any ideas,” she said.
He was in luck. She wasn’t interested in him either. Not something he was proud of but something he was surely thankful for. He didn’t want her but he needed her to show off to his friends. He liked being the cool among them. They thought he was the charming one, always picking up girls and getting lucky.
“That’s okay. Neither do I. I just need the attention from the guys back there.”
She smiled and slightly nudged her head sideways.
“Don’t worry, you can look right at them,” he said. He’d love if they saw her looking at them. It’d give him a better chance at showing off.
She glanced at the boy gang staring at them like hawks.
“I see no harm,” she said. “So, what do you have in mind?”
“Let’s get out of here. That way, your stalker boyfriend would get miffed. I’m guessing that’s what you want and I can go home not a penny less in my pocket.”
She stared at him for a second.
Poker face. As if studying his intentions.
He hadn’t asked for much. What was there to think?
“That’s a death wish, for you.” she said.
“Not like that! I mean, let’s get out of the bar and separate. I go my way, and you, may be wait for the giant bull out there. He’d come pissing off and you get the edge you need.”
She stared at him for a second and leaned low, almost as if coming on to him.
He could smell the fresh lilies as if they were sprinkled all over her. That girl had some choice in perfumes, if not in men. For a second he wanted to curl up beside her.
“Let’s get out of here,” she whispered in his ears and jumped out of her chair.
Steve followed her to the door, trying not to look at her man probably eyeing them right now.
They stepped out of the door.
“So, this is where we part?” she said.
“Yeah, but if you want, we can meet again.” He pulled out his wallet from his back pocket and took one of his freshly printed visiting cards. He handed it over to her.
“I don’t think I’ll need it,” she said.
She wasn’t that bad after all. The fact that she didn’t want him, made her more appealing to him.
“Just in case. If you ever decide to change your mind.”
She reached out to take the card and smirked as if unsure about it.
“I am not very big on decisions,” she said.
“I am counting on that.”
Steve opened the door of his apartment and stumbled inside. He closed the door and flung his shoes by the cabinet. He ripped off the socks and walked to the couch.
A drink. He desperately needed one.
The drinks were kept on the cabinet above the kitchen sink. He pulled it open and grabbed the bottle of whiskey.
Reaching for the glasses on the table, he thought about the girl in the bar. What was so special about the fat monster? So he was a cop? Lawyers are above the cops, right? Cop get guys behind bars, lawyers get them out. They were bigger and better.
That girl was dumb to turn him down.
He opened the refrigerator and grabbed the bowl full of ice. He picked two three by hand and pitched it into his glass. He poured the whiskey and gulped it down his throat.
It was getting hot.
He threw his jacket on the couch and moved to his bedroom. He unfastened his tie and opened the top two shirt buttons.
Much better. He took off the shirt and moved to his cabinet.
Where was his white tee?
He toppled the shirts to look for it.
Something shined bright amidst the dump of dull clothes. He went for it.
It was the chain.
His heart skipped a beat.
That dreaded chain.
He knew he shouldn’t open the heart shaped locket. But he did.
Looking at the pictures of the young boy and girl, his heart started to ache. It felt kind of sore as if suffering by some infection. The feelings, the pain, it all started to rush like a wave. He started to feel dizzy.
He narrowed his eyes to see clearly.
“Who are you two?”
Read Part IV here