The kids slowly shuffle into the club, their black tees and jeans nearly blending with the dark, slate gray walls. A few of the young men slump, others swagger while the majority puff out their chests like game cocks. The ladies are just as eager to fit into long assigned roles and Haley prepares for another weekend. Geoff, the tall, round bouncer with pale skin, shaved head and thick, black goatee salutes her with a grin as the patrons head towards her and the bar.
Dark, brown roots show in her blonde hair, pulled back and up in a tail. Lines crease away from her eyes, calling attention to her forty years and misspent youth. She is petite and well toned. Keeping in shape is so important, otherwise the tips would barely trickle in. A silent, grateful prayer is sent out to Victoria’s Secret as the black tank top is adjusted.
The crowd is pumped tonight, a hardcore band is playing and the boys all want whiskey. Most hammer back their first instantly and slam shot glasses down in a show of carefully considered impatience. If this bothers Haley at all you would never notice. The women are more diverse in their tastes and equally insincere in their patience. The rituals would make for an amazing anthropology paper, if she were still in school.
An hour goes by as she cruises on autopilot. Glasses are cleaned, libations poured and flirty repartee engaged in. Playing the part of the barely unavailable cougar serves its purpose and before long the pitcher behind the bar is filled with green linen. Maybe the girls can go to the movies tomorrow after all. Before long worries disappear and the smile becomes genuine. Earning is so much easier when you know the bills are paid.
Eventually irritation invades the oasis of peace in a noisy desert. The companions of her youth are here to play. Party animals, lay-abouts and middle-aged adolescents all, they demand too much time and the real patrons suffer for it. “Come bump a few lines”, “what are you doing after”, “remember when” a relentless assault of need for validation pummels her. The band goes on and they leave her alone.
Orders are more sparse during the first set, as everyone is more interested in the music than booze. Haley finds herself nodding her head in rhythm to the bass and the awkward, red-haired young man at the end of the bar smiles coyly as he keeps time. Engaging in small talk provides a steady shield, and keeping the conversation on music keeps her from having to rebuke her biggest fan.
He’s a nice kid, she tells herself. Were she ten years younger, she might even take him home. It has been so long since she has taken anyone home. Red orders a drink and takes his hand away from the tip just a little too slow. They both want contact, but she will not do that too him, he is better off this way. She pretends not to notice the tension bunched in his posture as he backs away and heads toward the stage. She is almost convinced she does not regret the decision.
The band finishes playing and the next two hours become a blur of outstretched hands, spilled drinks and a few close calls. Overall it is a good night and she does not have to call for Geoff even once. Last call comes and goes, before anyone knows it, the club is empty.
It only takes an hour for her, Geoff and the few part timers to clean. The band throws twenty into the pitcher as they engage in the requisite end of night displays of machismo with the bouncer. She discretely removes the drummer’s hand from her ass as she corals everyone else toward the door.
Dave, their boss, escorts her to her car. Geoff waves and throws her a wink as he opens the passenger side door of his car for the young, pink haired bar back. Haley just rolls her eyes as she waves back. Another Friday night has come and gone, and she is grateful to have survived.
- Punk Rock Origins: The Story Behind Bad Religion (kcet.org)
- Caught In A Mosh – Anthrax at the House of Blues Anaheim (ireport.cnn.com)
- Friday Doodling (literarylandofalysia.wordpress.com)
- Creative Writing Challenge: 2AM Photo (dailypost.wordpress.com)