Continued from “A Haven for the Particular”
Corrine saw her, alone at the corner of the bar, when reaching for a bottle on the shelf beside the cooler. She must have snuck in. She lifted her chin in the universal “I’ll be there in a sec” bartender signal. The girl nodded back. She was about Corrine’s height with wider shoulders giving her a more tapered torso.
“I’m sorry”, Corrine said approaching. “You snuck in on me.”
“S’okay. I wasn’t here that long.”
“Jenna.” She reached a fist over the bar and Corrine bumped it. Big hands extending out of the rolled sleeves of a western style shirt that she wore untucked. “Double Tito’s. Single tonic.”
Corrine poured smoothly and quickly-not hurrying but with no wasted motion aside from the necessary flourishes with the knife and the lime. Then, drink in her right hand, she flipped a coaster in front of Jenna and plopped the glass on it.
“Thanks.” The short thick waves of her auburn hair was dark enough to be mistaken for brown. Her smile showed a slight overbite with a little overlap in her front teeth. Interesting-not unattractive.
“You’re not…exactly new here are you?”
“I was here once before. A few Tuesdays ago…”
“You’re signed in at the door?”
In answer, Jenna waved her Club ID that she pulled out of her back pocket.
“Can’t believe I don’t remember you…Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry about it. I hid pretty much. In the back corner.”
“You’re new in town though…I can’t really place the accent.”
“Don’t try. Moved around a lot as a kid. My dad was in the Air Force. Moved here from Houston about a month ago where we were for awhile. My boyfriend got transferred.”
“You have a good month or two before winter settles in…”
“No problem. I was born in Colorado-wanted someplace green with seasons you could feel.”
“Oh yes….there are a lot of things you can feel around here”, Corrine said gauging how wicked of a smile to send. She paused as her phone vibrated in her back pocket. She pulled it out and glanced at it then replaced it.
Jenna watched her give a quick if discreet look around the bar then slip through the opening and out of the room through a set of swinging doors behind her. She scanned the mixed crowd. A couple of guys in business casual, a lot of jeans, some hipster flannel and a smattering of leather. A forty-something woman-prettily made up with immaculate hair and nails sucked nervously at a cigarette. She shrugged an embarrassed, “yes, I’m here” smile when Jenna caught her eye then looked down at the ashtray. Jenna couldn’t tell if she was embarrassed to be here as a spectator or to want to be part of the show.
With a swoosh behind her, the swinging door opened again. Corrine slipped unobtrusively back behind the bar and a bright little red-headed firecracker popped into a space beside Jenna. She again noticed Corrine scanning the bar quickly, not quite nervously but, anxiously. Convinced then, of something, she turned her attention back to the two of them.
“Jenna-Molly”, said Corrine. “Molly-Jenna…”
“Hi”, said Molly extending a hand.
“The back door girl…” said Jenna, shaking it.
“Yeah, well…” said Corrine refilling Jenna’s drink “She’s just stopping by for a moment…” Then placing the drink in front of her, “This is on me…” Jenna thanked her with a quick nod. “Be right back…”
Molly watched Corrine serving the other side of the bar as Jenna focused on a small bruise on the side of the girl’s neck that she had tried to conceal with makeup. Do adults give each other sucker bites up here?
“You a regular here?”
“No, no…” Molly said. “I’m usually at the ‘Lucky’ uptown. You know it?” Jenna shook her head. “Good music-used to be full on jazz but it’s a mix now… came here with a friend a couple of months ago, I guess. This place…wakes up something in me…”
“I could see that…”
“How about you”, Molly asked. “You new here?”
She explained that she had been here before and Molly asked her if she had been picked.
“No”, she smiled. “Happily not.”
“Happily not, or sadly not…?” There was a twinkle to the girl, that’s for sure.
Jenna smiled and sipped at her drink. “You know, I’m not sure really.”
“Uh huh…” Molly sipped at a drink that Corrine had slipped in front of her.
“I have a history”, Jenna said.
“About five years ago. I was a sorority girl.”
“Do they still do that?”
“They did in my case…”
“Still do what?” Corrine asked returning to chat. She had been joined by another bartender as the evening marched on so there was some time.
“She was in a sorority…”
“Really? What was that like?”….
The beauty of a place like The Club, especially on Odd Tuesday, is that everyone there-regardless of background, job or back story had traces of the same color within. Things which wouldn’t be talked about in the outside could be happily ordinary here. Jenna had no problem telling her story.
“Jesus”, Corrine shook her head. “You’re tougher than I am-I couldn’t have stood for that…”
“She gives”, Molly smiled. “Can’t take…”
“Enough out of you…”
“…And that was the beginning of the end for me at School. Some of the girls started calling me “Wild and Wooley” which was funny-I never trimmed back then…but school wasn’t right for me.”
“Got your money back though right?”
“Paid in full…I earned it though. Couldn’t sit right for a couple days.”
“You ever talk to any of them after…?”
“Two girls apologized to me. Said Heather overstepped…blah, blah…”
“So you were all forgive and forget?”
“Sure, but I told them both I’d forgive them if they came to my room and I’d give them exactly what they gave me…”
“No way”, Corrine leaned in. “You paddled them?”
“Only one took me up on it. Diana-we’re still friends-she invited me to her wedding last year…”
“Did you go?”
Oh, sure…you get pretty close to people when you’ve seen them at their most…vulnerable.”
“That is a story I’m going to want to hear sometime…For sure.” She scanned the bar and had to go make a couple of drinks.
“Talk among yourselves…Duty calls…
To Be Continued