It’s time for another Free Sample. This is where I shamelessly offer a piece of my work in the hopes you buy it….er…enjoy it enough to share it with friends!
High Desert Run
I got to the tavern a little after ten in the evening. The only one like it as far as I can see, it seemed as if the tavern was the nightlife in the town. Stepping through the doors, I tried taking in the entire room at once. About two-dozen townspeople were congregating over bottles of beer and games of pool. Televisions that hung over the wooden bar had the local game on; its volume competing with the sounds of alternative country music pulsating out of the jukebox. I took a seat at an empty stool at the bar, trying to blend in. The others in my vicinity, blue-collared men and women over the age of thirty, most likely gave me a once over, before ultimately realizing I wasn’t a threat. Before long, everyone went back to minding their beers and conversations.
An attractive woman in her mid-twenties sporting an apron emerged from the small dance floor area with a server platter. She slid behind the bar and freshened up a couple of drinks before calling for new orders. She was friendly, but no more than necessary. She would occasionally flash a smile to a patron, perhaps for no other reason than to secure her gratuity for the evening, but as soon as the smirk was on her face it would fade away, like a shooting star in the sky.
By now she must have noticed me looking at her, as she walked over to my side of the bar, without the smile. I suppose it was for the regulars only.
“What can I get you?”
“A beer and a menu,” I said suffering from another hunger cramp.
“What kind of beer?”
“Whatever is your most popular.”
“Got it,” she said. “We don’t got menus so what do you want?”
“What do you have?”
“Whatever you want.”
“Burger and fries,” I said, fighting back the urge to say something that wasn’t too peculiar.
“Got it,” and just like that she disappeared from the bar and went into the kitchen.
The game on the television seemed to have ended, as a big portion of the crowd closed their tabs and started to file out of the door. The televisions turned off, and an ambient light that was hung from the ceiling was turned on. A couple of the dozen or so people that were left took their conversations to the dance floor. Part sports bar and part nightclub. Classy. The place was more a public utility than a bar. I wouldn’t be surprised if town hall meetings were held here over drinks. From my experience, drinks almost make any meeting smoother.
The waitress returned with a rather large plate that held my mountain of fries and a landmass of a cheeseburger. I wondered how many cows died for my culinary sins, but I was so hungry I tore into it without any hesitation. Out of the corner of my eye I could tell that the waitress was still hovering over me, no doubt disgusted I was eating my cheeseburger like some sort of a savage.
“Hey,” she said. “I said, hey. Do you need anything else?”
“Uh,” I said, swallowing my kill. “Your next drink is on me.”
“Because I don’t accept things from strangers,” I said, watching her crack a smile.
So that’s what a genuine smile from her looks like.
“Right,” I said with a nod. “Jethro Nabers, but everyone calls me Jett.”
“Everyone calls you Jett, huh?”
“What does your mother call you?”
“Jethro,” I said defeated.
“Figured,” she said. “The name is Daisy. I would shake your hand but they look busy at the moment.”
“Right,” I said, looking at my ketchup stained fingers. “Accept that drink as my handshake.”
“I take it that you’re not from around here,” she said.
“Is it that obvious?” I said. “It’s a long story.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what,” she said. “I got to handle something in the back real quick and when I come back, you can tell me all about your long story.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said stuffing another French fry into my gullet. I watched her sway her hips as she walked to the back room with gusto. I have to admit that ordering her a drink was pretty smooth. Unprecedented smooth. Well, as smooth as I can be with food bits hanging off the side of my mouth. Baby steps Jett, baby steps.
“So what brings you to Silverside?” Daisy asked while she sat on a free barstool next to mine.
By this time I noticed two other men, clad with aprons around their waist, appearing from behind the bar. I speculated she was now off the clock and ready for that drink I promised her. She called for a pint of beer, and took a cautious sip of the glass when it arrived, making sure not to spill a drop. There is a great piece in my heart reserved for a woman that can enjoy a beer; they are quite the dying breed.
“I didn’t know this place existed up until a couple of hours ago,” I said.
“Let me take a wild guess then,” she said. “You were heading to Vegas?”
“Everyone who isn’t from here is usually on their way to Vegas when they end up in Silverside, even the transplants,” she said while taking another sip of her beer. “But something tells me you don’t have any plans of moving here.”
“Right,” I said, deciding against being rude and agreeing with her. “So I’m on my way to Vegas…”
“No, not exactly.”
“To relax at an overpriced spa?”
“I wish, but no.”
“To rendezvous with one of the thousands of women of the night?”
“Oh God no,” I said. “How could I have just one?”
“I can drink to that,” she said raising her glass.
“Well you see,” I started. “I’m in marketing. A special kind of marketing, it’s called ‘Brand Integrity’”.
“Brand Integrity?” she asked wide-eyed.
“Yeah sure,” I said. “You know how in high school there are the cool kids and the not so cool kids? Well, every industry is like a high school and my team and I give advice to the not so cool kids so they could be the cool kids.”
I could tell that I was boring her to tears so I decided to take the conversation in another direction. Some call it a gift and others a curse, but I have this uncanny ability to tell when a woman is losing interest in me.
“Long story short,” I said. “I was meeting with a client that actually operates out of Vegas. My car hit a rough patch in the road and blew out a couple of tires and here I am.”
“Why didn’t you fly?”
“My boss is a cheap ass, and planes aren’t really my thing,” I said.
She let another smile rise to the surface as she took another swig of her beer. Her lips were soft, delicate, even.
“So you’re stuck here until tomorrow,” she said.
“Well that’s just it,” I said. “The mechanic in town said he can’t get new tires until Monday, so I’m stuck here until then.”
“Was it the older guy with a gut?”
“Yeah,” I said. “What, is he a jerk?”
“He’s my dad,” she said, batting her eyelashes.
Of course, everyone is related here. I’ve should have known.
“Oh,” I said. “I didn’t know.”
“Think nothing of it,” she said. “My dad isn’t really the most liked guy in town.”
“He seems to be doing well for himself, what with running the shop and the inn in town.”
“He used to run the tavern too,” she said. “I just bought the place from him a couple of months ago. Turned it around myself.”
“It most certainly looks like it’s the place to be,” I said.
“Yeah,” she said. “Something like that.”
The ambient music changed to a very warm Latin rock number. Some of the more bashful couples returned to their seats from the dance floor. My beer was as good as done and Daisy’s was almost finished as well.
“Hey,” I said. “Do you dance? More like, do you want to dance? You know, with me?”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” she said eyeing an empty patch on the dance floor. “I don’t know how to dance.”
“Neither do I.”
“In that case, “she said. “I guess I’ll lead.”
She stood up from her seat and headed for the hardwood floor that was in the center of the tavern with me just a couple of steps behind. Admittedly, I spent the majority of the trek admiring her figure. The way she moved, the way carried herself, the way she was so beautiful but didn’t go out of her way to rub it in my face was a bit intriguing. Before long we were in the center of the dance floor and sure to her status as the bartender and proprietor, we were the center of attention.
As the upbeat sounds of the electric guitar seeped out from the speakers, she grabbed my hands and placed them on her waist. I did my best to show some restraint, but when she took a step towards me, there wasn’t much restraint left.
She rocked her hips back and forth, her feet and arms swaying in time to the beat. I came to realize that she was being coy earlier, as her dancing was a work of art. I did my best to keep up, and after a few shaky moves, I kept in time with her. We were in rhythm, our bodies moving as one as our eyes locked on to each other.