A Sunday Short

A Sunday Short
FROM the SZEN NOIR file:

He walked into a bar on Hollywood Boulevard next to the Pantages Theatre where the theatre crowd liked to meet before ShowTime. The music was loud, playing Sweet Judy Blue Eyes and no one was paying attention. The bartender waved with recognition from the other end of the bar, but took his time getting close enough to hear him shout his order. “Shot of Vodka and a beer chaser!” It went down easy and he signaled for another. Glancing side to side he caught no eye contact, not even a glance his way. The place was packed and the conversations were just short of screams needed to break through the Crosby Stills and Nash classic. He remembered hearing it a lot in college and then like now, you couldn’t ever dance to it.

During the brief interlude between songs on the jukebox one could hear the cacophony of conversations and with no song to overcome, pieces of information escaped into the room and suddenly everyone could hear everyone else and the din subsided quickly. As if on cue, No Secrets by Carly Simon came blasting into the room and for those few paying attention like he was, it brought a smile for the coincidence and a chance to scan to see who else got the joke. She got it – the brunette standing with her girlfriends and sipping on some red wine. He held his gaze long enough to be embarrassed when she caught him looking. He dropped his eyes to his lap and then turned away.

He nursed his beer over the next few songs and debated whether he should turn around and face her. On one hand he thought that it was funny and he should just laugh it off, but on the other hand she caught him in a gawk, bordering on leer, mid way through checking her out from bottom to top. It was at the top that she stopped his stare and so he wasn’t sure how much she saw before or if she even cared to see any more. He was thinking that either way, the whole event was a solid “ice breaker” and he should do something, anything.

Before he could gulp down the last of the beer and make his move he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was she. He was frozen.
Like magic, the background noise and music stopped as the bartender announced that the show next door was beginning in ten minutes. “Time to pay up and get out if you don’t want to miss the show.” He shouted. Stymied by the shift in the room they both looked around searching for clues on what to do next. She reached into her purse and pulled out a business card and gave it to him. “Here ya go” she said and walked toward the door and as she walked out, others overran her wake and soon she was invisible, absorbed by the crowd, and out of his sight.

He just starred at the scene of the emptying bar for a minute or two. Then he looked down at the card. It was a ticket. “Check please!” he yelled and threw down some money and moved quickly toward the exit but not before he heard Ole Blue Eyes singing Strangers in the Night, which made him laugh as he felt his pace and pulse, begin to quicken.

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