He sat at the same table he always occupies. A clear view to the door, back to the wall and just out of the main tectonic plate of pulsating bass that fills the dance floor. An untouched whiskey double with a trickle of water sits halfway onto the coaster in front of him. The distorted vocals of whatever dance track is popular blares on.
He didn’t come for the music. Or the atmosphere of over drinking and cigarette smoke. The strobe lights and fog machine act to exacerbate the constant pounding in his head. This is the last place he would go of his own accord. His apartment is his fortess away from the world he doesn’t quite feel part of any longer. A refuge from the onslaught of all the unspoken things that assault his fragile psyche.
He comes here because he knows she will. It is a game, guessing what color her hair will be this evening. Watching her smile as she gets the drinks and balances them precariously while managing to move with a feral grace across the floor. Her little movements and lovely smile light up the room brighter than the flashing colored lights.
He doesn’t even know her name.
A couple weeks back he was coming down from another one of those last time he is going to do this benders. He needed a drink to clear the demons from his skull and staggered into here. It was early, or late, he had lost track of time a couple days prior. The combination of speed and horse made everything fuzzy around the edges. The bar was empty for the most part as he slipped his way into a booth and ordered two doubles. He slammed this back and ordered two more before he felt human enough to look about.
And that was when she entered frame.
He did not believe in love at first sight. Maybe erection at initial glance, but live was a fools game and he had been in a losing streak for as long as he could recall. But she glided in like an angel on leave from heaven.
“You look like hanmered shit,” she said as set down two more. “You sure you need more poison coursing through your system?”
He couldn’t speak, tongue tied at her ethereal beauty. Like the first hit after a month sober she flooded through him.
“These are on the house.”
That first night her hair was platinum blonde. Spilled down her graceful back in spirals of rube goldbergian design. The scent of strawberries filled the air as she twirled and walked away. The glimpse of cherries tattooed on her flat stomach burned into his mind.
He downed the liquid amber and decided maybe somethings were worth the dopesick hell he was about to endure.
He spent the next five days sweating toxins and covered in anta that bit and crawled along his nervous system. Platinum visions held the worst at bay.
When he could finally pull himself out of the filth he had laid in and shower the remanants of the past away he went back to see her.
It looks three trips until she had another shift. And he nearly left until he saw the cherries on the red head serving in the corner. She perked up when she saw him.
“You look better,” she announced, setting the whiskey down on the table before sweeping away to place another order. He didn’t touch them although the urge was strong. He wished he would have as the place filled up and he didn’t get a chance to talk to her again that evening.
It took another week to speak to her. But he never got her name. Soon he was a regular. And she was always different. Her hair covered every shade of the spectrum. He had built her up to the point where he just came and watched her. He didn’t stand a chance and knew it. But he couldn’t stay away.
It wasn’t about getting to heaven himself. He was willing to settle for paradise adjacent. Her smile was the fix he needed now.