Monday, June 17, 2013

A Work Problem

He sat alone at the bar, an empty glass clutched in his hand. His shoulders were hunched and his eyes were fixed on a spot on the table.
"Y'alright, Mo?" Seth, the bartender, asked in his soft, smooth voice that put Morgan in mind of a warm glass of milk. 
Morgan shook his head. "Another of the same."
Clicking his tongue in sympathy, Seth sloshed more scotch into Morgan's glass. 
"Leave the bottle." 
Seth frowned. His electric blue eyes danced over Morgan's face, searching for the source of the man's trouble. Then he set down the bottle, and walked away down the bar to help another customer. 
Tossing back the contents of his glass, Morgan swallowed the burning spirits with a grimace. Lifting the bottle, he tried to pour himself some more, but sloshed much of it on the counter.
"Let me get that," a soft, light voice offered. Morgan looked up as a curvaceous woman in a green dress took the bottle out of his hands and tipped some of the amber liquid into his glass. Her flat-ironed hair -- whether black or deep brown, it was hard to say in the dim bar -- brushed against his arm, and he felt a shock go through him as though he had just stuck a fork in a light socket. Her full lips spread into a smile, and she took a swig straight from the bottle before setting it back down on the counter. 
"Name's Tiffany," she said. 
She nodded in greeting. "Now." She turned on her stool so her back was to the bar, and leaned her elbows up against it. "Why don't you tell me what's wrong?" 
"It's an old story," Morgan said, forcing his gaze away from her. He looked back into his glass and saw red and blue lights dancing in circles. Squeezing shut his eyes, he downed the scotch.
"Your girl left you?" 
He looked at the woman beside him. The corners of her lips tugged upwards, and one of her thin, dark eyebrows was raised in a delicate arch.
"Did your girl leave you?" she pressed, "That's the oldest story in the book."
"No. It's nothing like that. It's a...." He winced and followed her excellent example, picking up the bottle and drinking straight from it. The scotch muffled the screams echoing in his ears. "A work problem." 
"Ah." She nodded, understanding. 
"I guess it's stupid to take it so hard."
"It is, rather." She gave a lopsided grin, looking down at the counter. She rubbed the polished wood with her fingers for a minute, her hand going up and down like a spider doing push-ups  Then she snatched the bottle out of his hands and took another mouthful. "But I can relate."
"I guess we all have rough jobs."
She nodded.
"What was it for you?"
"A baby." 
"'Couple of kids. Car accident." He winced as he heard the grinding of metal replaying in his ears.
"Not yet." He took the bottle again. 
"I mean the kids."
"No. Just goofing off." He took a long drink, shaking as he remembered. "The driver survived."
"Oh." Her voice was heavy with understanding.
Closing his eyes, Morgan nodded. It felt good to be in a room with people who knew the pain he was feeling. It felt nice to be sitting next to a pretty woman, discussing work and drinking scotch like nothing was strange about what they did. It felt wonderful to feel himself going steadily numb as the alcohol worked its way into his system. When he opened his eyes, Tiffany was staring at him, her eyes narrowed in thought. 
"So, Morgan," she said, "Can I ask you a question?"
He blinked slowly, trying to register what she had just said. "Um... sure."
"Do you want to change the world?"
"I guess."
"Good." She kissed his cheek. Her breath was warm, and her lips soft. He almost fell off his bar-stool  "Come with me," she whispered. She took him by the hand. Without hesitation, he got to his feet and followed her out of the bar. 


Today's Novel Idea Prompted by: "He sat alone at the bar, an empty glass clutched in his hand. His shoulders were hunched and his eyes were fixed on a spot on the table." courtesy of Inspiration for Writers.

1 comment:

Paige said...

You've got me hooked. Now I totally want to figure out what happens next! You're evil! :P