Linda sat at the bar alone, sipping her beer. She had been sure that things would go differently tonight. She had come to the club optimistic at about nine o’clock; by nine thirty there were three guys buying her drinks and competing for her attention.
After careful consideration, she had chosen Mark. Clearly the best looking man in the bar. She liked the way his western shirt hung from his shoulders. She liked the way his hand tooled leather belt rode on his hips, and the way his boot cut jeans fit his backside. She liked the way his hair curled over his ears and the little hook shaped scar above his eye. She loved the way that he talked.
He spoke and dressed confidently. He told stories like Hemmingway wrote, sucking her into his narrative. She was smitten. He was persuasive and kept buying drinks. The other men eventually drifted away to try their luck with other girls and by ten thirty, Linda had let Mark talk her into to accompanying him outside, into the cold of the parking lot.
She wasn’t proud of what happened out there. She felt used – taken advantage of. They weren’t gone long before they came back into the warmth of the bar and found their beers sitting right where they had left them with only a puddle of condensation around the base of the glass to signify that they had been unattended at all.
Linda sat on her barstool and Mark reached over to grab a couple of napkins. He wiped the damp off the wooden bar top and they smiled at one another. She had still been optimistic then. It was about ten minutes before eleven.
Mark pulled on his beer and set it back down on the bar, “I’ll be right back, Linda. Don’t go anywhere.” he said as he stood and hitched up his jeans. He walked towards the back of the bar and under the sign that read ‘Restrooms’. Somehow she knew even then. She hoped that she was wrong.
At eleven twenty her beer was gone and Ted, the bartender, came by to see if she wanted another.
“I’m done Ted,” she said, “I need to settle up with you.”
“You OK?” he asked, and she nodded but didn’t smile.
“I’m good, Ted. Can you call me a cab?”
When the taxi came she slid into the back seat and gave the driver her address, thankful that it was only a short ride home.