Wednesday, April 02, 2008
In the soft rain, the sidewalks glistened like rumpled mirrors. Down the street, taxis jockeyed as the light changed. Their brake lights reflected smears of red.
Rachel walked past the sparse businessmen heading for the late trains.
She checked her text messages.
Friend number one flaked.
Friend number two flaked again.
Backup friend, nothing at all.
She resisted the urge to chuck the phone into an overflowing trashcan.
She could've dug deeper into her address book, but didn't want to deal with the humiliation. No use going home either. Not another movie alone in her apartment on a Saturday night.
People shuffled by in the long winter coats despite the humidity. Their shoulders darkened with wetness where their umbrellas couldn't reach. A tiny taste of summer poked through the wild spring days. She heard it in the thunder ducking down trashy, dark alleys.
When she reached the bar, all the reasons not to go inside fluttered in the back of her mind. She pulled open the door and slid through the noise. It didn't touch her. Nothing touched her. The chaos opened a path for her as she took the last open seat at the bar.
She bobbed on the surface of the sea of noise, as she ordered an apple martini, even though it was passé. A game flashed on one of the corner televisions. The drink was pale green. It nipped at the point of her tongue.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder.
"Would you mind turning around?"
A male voice. Loud, even for all the noise.
She turned. Half around.
Two guys with two spiked haircuts held foamy beers in feminine Belgium bottles.
The taller one grinned. "See? Totally back-pretty," he said. "I told you, man."
Goatee-boy looked incredulous. "No way! She's definitely decent, dude."
Rachel touched her long black hair and looked down through the forest of legs.
"Back-pretty, and that's my fucking final answer."
A shoulder got shoved.
A hand faked a retaliatory head slap.
The assholes continued their fight and collided their way back to a group near the tables. Some looked over, and some laughed.
Rachel turned back to the sparkling wall of bottles. The bartender was looking at her.
She gulped too much of her drink and slid a twenty over.
She didn't wait for change.
Outside, the fine rain brushed her face like silk curtains. Nice. A reminder of the grace of the Earth and her ancient cycles.
Near an empty park, she saw the bronze statue of a man on a bench reading a newspaper. A local landmark. Pigeons liked to roost on the man's fingers.
She smoothed the back of her coat a sat next to him.
Traffic lights flashed yellow by the bookstore across the street.
One car's tires sizzled by.
"You probably see a lot, sitting here all the time," she said.
But the man seemed pretty intent on his bronze paper.
"Everyone walks right by you. No one stops to say hello."
She slid her foot out.
"That's what you should do. See that? Just a little foot action. I bet it would be a blast to trip one of them up."
The rain lightened, and a nearby church chime wobbled in her head. She drank that martini way too fast.
She surveyed the sidewalks.
A guy turned to cut through the park. Alone.
A breeze tussled his hair.
"Tonight's your lucky night," she said. "You sit tight."
She snuggled closer to the cold statue and drew her foot back into the shadows under her.
A police siren moaned in the distance.
As the guy got close, she bit her lip to keep from laughing.
There's a harvest each Saturday night
At the bars filled with perfume and hitching a ride
A place you could stand for one night and get gone
And it's clear this conversation ain't doing a thing
Because these boys only listen to me when I sing
And I don't feel like singing tonight all the same songs
Here in these deep city lights
A girl could get lost tonight
I'm finding every reason to be gone
There's nothing here to hold onto
Could I hold you?
--Sara Bareilles, City