A bar is a bar is a bar. But something about this one was different.
Dim lights cast the tables in a yellow glow and shadows warped the corners and hid the expressions on the patron’s faces. The bar stools were dinged and dirty, but sturdy. The lone bartender avoided looking directly into the eyes of anyone who approached him and constantly cleaned the glasses in front of him.
But that was normal. No one wanted a brightly lit drinking space; they didn’t want to look their bad decisions head on. If a bartender didn’t meet your gaze, they might not remember your face if asked later. This wasn’t what made it strange…
No. It was something in the air. When you walked in the doors, it was as though the pressure dropped and the ground swayed like the deck of a ship at sea. You stepped into limbo.
Jeremiah took a seat at the bar and ordered a jack and coke. The bartender set it in front of him a second later.
“What brings you here, boy?” an overweight man at the other end of the bar called. “I haven’t seen you around here before.”
Jeremiah drank half the contents of his glass before glancing in the man’s direction. “My car broke down. Waiting on the tow truck.”
“Hmph. You’ll be waiting a long time on that.” The fat man slurped his beer and wiped the foam off his upper lip with the back of his hand. “I’m the ow truck driver.” He smiled a gap-toothed grin at Jeremiah.
“Great.” Jeremiah twirled his glass between his hands. “Not in a hurry, anyway.”
“Why’s that? Running from somethin’?”
The room stilled around them. Even the bartender stopped his cleaning and looked up for the answer.
Jeremiah twirled the cup again, the glass rubbing the wood the only sound in the room. “Well… You could say that. I might be a wanted man. I haven’t slowed down enough to find out.”
The room breathed once again, and the bartender went back to his work. A woman with red lip stick slid on to the barstool next to Jeremiah and signalled for a drink.
“What did you do?” She tucked a cigarette between her lips and lit it.
Jeremiah watched the smoke swirl out of her mouth and up towards the ceiling before he answered.
“Killed my wife. Because she was pregnant with the neighbor’s child. Shot her right between the eyes. And then I ran for it.”
Red lipstick smiled, the cigarette between her lips and dripping ash onto the bar in front of them. “Understandable.” She held out a hand with nails painted the same color as her lips. “I’m Sandy.”
Jeremiah smiled without realizing he was doing it and took her hand. Her fingers were cold, but her grip was firm.
“Nice to meet you, Sandy.”
“It won’t be.” The fat man slid off his stool and walked down the hall to the bathrooms.
Jeremiah watched him wobble away and then turned back to Sandy. “What does he mean?” But Sandy only smiled and signalled the bartender to get him a refill.
To be continued.
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