Sunday, April 11, 2010

All right, how about a BAR SCENE!

Blogfest bar scene for Tara.

This one's from a book I'll probably never publish. It was my first novel, what I consider a practice work, but the bar scene is oddly prophetic. I've lived this scene too many times.

You'll notice the passives, cheesy scenery... lots of ugghishness, semicolons, all those hyphenated sentences.

But hell, you asked for it!


- Eric


The Keeper
A Bar Scene

O'Leary's was just around the corner. Harold was usually safe with the drinking and driving thing, but not with these shaking hands—he could barely light a cigarette. After a slow, fifteen minute stroll, Harold walked into the sports bar, his pack of Marlboro’s half spent.

O’Leary’s was lit dimly during the week. On the weekends, the lights were lowered even more to add additional social appeal to the bar. Tonight, its overhead lights cast a leathery-brown tinge.

Behind the oak bar, a pretty blonde in a T-shirt and apron poured drinks for the half-dozen people seated around her. Harold had never seen her; must be new.

That settles it, Harold thought. He'd considered playing pool in the game room—maybe some nine ball would calm his nerves—but nothing beats a pretty girl mixing up drinks.

Harold sat on a stool next to a television showing the Ranger's game. Interleague play was this week, so the Astros were in town beating the crap out of Texas' crummy pitchers. No relief in that bullpen, Harold thought. He flagged the bartender, who made her way over after pouring up two beers and a margarita for some folks near the middle of the bar.

"What can I get ya?" she said. Perky. The barmaids were always the hottest, and here was the proof. With innocent eyes and a topless dancer under that T-shirt, she made Harold's mind go blank for a second while he considered whether or not those things were real. He brought his eyes up before she noticed. Too late—and yes, they’re real—she seemed to smile back at him.

"How 'bout a Shiner Bock."

"Sixteen or twenty ounce?" She lifted two glasses.

"Bigger's better, make it twenty." Harold pulled the small bowl of peanuts at the edge of the bar to him. She poured up the dark beer and set it in front of him.

"Wanna start a tab?"

Harold replied with a credit card, which she ran through the machine and stashed behind the bar.

She comes… with the beer. God, I’m going fuckin’ crazy.

Harold tipped the first glass, held it until it stopped pouring down his throat. I miss ya, Pop, but this is nuts.

Harold was afraid to look in the mirror behind the bar, afraid he’d see his father reflected there, shimmering, creaking his lips. Tapping.

Harold hadn’t thought about the tapping. How long had his father been at the window, rapping? At least a week. Why?

Stop it! Stop it stop it stop it Goddammit that was a limb I fuckin' saw it! Order another beer. Don’t think about this shit, think about something else. I ain’t a fuckin’ voodoo nutcase like he was.

The Astros struck out the last Ranger in the bottom of the fourth and headed from the dugout. That deserves another drink. Harold popped another peanut open, threw the nuts to the back of his mouth, eyed the waitress for her attention.

Warm breath on his neck. Harold glanced over his shoulder; nobody there. Christ.

"That was fast. Shiner Bock?"

"Huh? Yeah... 'nuther biggun. Stat."

"'Kay." She wiped her pretty hands on her apron before picking up another chilled glass.

Harold glanced over his shoulder again, checked the door, the booths. When he looked back to the bar, his drink sat on a napkin between his hands. He picked it up and sauntered into the adjacent darts and billiards room; more light there.

Harold adjusted his cap before sitting at a small round table near a group of women playing darts. With pretty legs and nice dresses, they probably were some of the suits that worked in Addison doing indoor business stuff. The brunette hit the twenty and gave two quick happy hops, clapping like a thirty-something cheerleader. She and her partner raised their drinks, tallied their score, stepped back for the other two women to throw. Not bad, Harold thought; they were ahead by almost fifty points.

Harold's eyes drifted across the rest of the bar, but tended to linger on the brunette when they found her. No ring, that's good. Scantily clad biker chicks were obnoxiously losing pool to their wannabe Harley jocks against the far wall—some women were not meant to wear leather halter tops. The ballgame was still on, he saw. Then he turned back to his drink after noticing the brunette had absolutely no panty lines showing through her gray skirt. She drew his attention again when she shook off her matching jacket, threw it over the stool at their table, and blew on her darts for luck before throwing. That pucker made his spine tingle; he almost dropped his glass.

A finger tapped his shoulder. Oh fuck! Harold's glass slipped, hit the carpeted floor, bounced.

A waitress. "Sorry, let me get that for you. Would you like another drink?" the waitress asked, bending down. Barmaids are always the hottest, Harold thought again—she was one of the better looking women he'd seen, although she didn't look old enough to serve liquor.

Her smooth hips calmed his nerves a bit.

"Shiner Bock. I got a tab at the bar."

Harold checked the room again—still not enough light in here—then turned to the brunette in time to see another bunny hop and her small clap. She'd hit eighteen, and they were almost down to zero.

His eyes began burning as he downed his third glass of the thick beer. He pressed his palms, moist and cool from the beer, to his itching sockets.

Harold missed the days when smoking was allowed inside the bar rather than restricted to the alley behind the bar. What he wouldn't do for a cigarette right now. And he sure as hell wasn't going outside. Behind the bar? No fuckin' way.

The brunette and her partner beat the other couple. They ordered fresh drinks and sat down at the tall table where she had thrown her coat earlier. She faced sideways from Harold, enough for him to see her slip through the back of her white silk blouse, but not enough for him to see the front.

Harold's intention had been to drink, not chase skirt. He liked to drink. He was good at it. And drinking was the pastime of the gods—what was their nectar? Wine. Not water. Wine. Good enough for God, good enough for Harold.

But hey, God, she looks good. With each beer, the blouse looked thinner. Felt softer. Her ponytail whispered against her neck. The edge of Harold's nerves softened against the brunette's pinker parts.

Two more beers, then I'll be good. Harold stood, sat. Sobriety check still intact. Maybe three quick ones. Or four. Be the beer.

Although God had dealt Harold Glen Murphy a sum of errors, the result was a resemblance to the Marlboro Man's rugged—if dirty—good looks; all Harold needed was a saddle thrown over his shoulder.

But Harold knew the attractive woman had Mercedes taste; prim and proper, she probably preferred doctors to professional weed eaters.

Which was exactly why he needed help from the beer.

Harold's pace sped while he downed the extra beers. He let out a belch, looked into the last glass and drawled "Sexyyyy" into a long and powerful phrase.

The little hairs on the back of his neck jumped up while his nerve took hold. Harold picked up a fresh beer from the waitress and stood. The room took off beneath him, and he grabbed the table to steady himself. Much better. Now I'm good. He sipped the new beer down about a third.

Harold casually made his way to their table without falling or looking directly at them. The strawberry blonde facing saw him coming first; she smiled, tapped her friends with a nod.

"How're you ladies tonight?" His lips were numb.


"That's good. Me, I'm just hangin' out, watching the ballgame. Good game of darts there, I saw. You two won, right?"

Thank God he had that extra beer—this was getting ugly. He took a long cold sip. Couldn’t feel his scalp anymore.

"Awright then, so, um,"—he looked at the brunette—"we gonna have sex tonight or what?"

Her eyes went wide. "Um, yeah." Two sarcastic syllables. Rejected.

"Finally, a lady I can respect. How 'bout you let me buy you a drink and we discuss the finer points of a photonic relationship."

She considered what he’d said, corrected him. "Platonic.”


"Do you know what the word means?"

"What word?"

"Platonic. It means non-sexual."

"I know what the word means, I just used it, didn't I?"

"No, you said photronic or something. It's pla-ton-ic." She said it slow so he would understand. At least she was talking.

"Anyways, would you like me to buy you a drink?"

"I have a drink." The brunette held up a red frozen mix, probably a daiquiri.

"Mmm," Harold nodded. "Well, how 'bout you let me freshen yours up with a new one?"

"You ladies want another drink?" She looked to the table in desperation.

"Nope," was one reply.

"No, it's getting late, I need to get home," said another.

The strawberry blonde shook her head. "Sorry, this is our last round." She looked sincere, and Harold felt he might have had a chance if he'd picked her instead.

"Awright then," he huffed, beaten. But one last effort before he aborted. "Can I get your number at least, maybe take you out for drinks one night?"

The brunette tightened her lips and shook her professional ponytail.

"Awright then, y'all have a good night." Now his eyes felt like white-burning pokers jabbed into his skull. Harold turned, threw back the rest of the beer, set the glass on his table as he passed, and stumbled out the door and into the night.

No words were written on his patio door when Harold passed through the living room, not checking, and fell face-down on the bed in drunken coma.



Andrew Rosenberg said...

Hmm...six beer and no potty break? ;) Harold has an iron bladder.
I loved "be the beer".
I think I mentioned "bar courage" in my comment on my blog...but this guy has some serious beer goggles on. The tension about what was going on with his father made the scene work for me. He has about as much game as the Rangers (sorry about yesterday...but not really).
Nice job!

sarahjayne smythe said...

I love the detail and the dialogue here. Really sets the tone of the scene. And I like Harold a lot. :)

stu said...

I like this, with the little hints of something else going on in the background. There's certainly plenty of characterisation.

Raquel Byrnes said...

"God had dealt Harold Glen Murphy a sum of errors..." Great line. The thing with the dad tapping on the mirrors was kinda creepy too. Felt bad for him going home alone. Interesting post.

dolorah said...

Hey, I think I've met this guy at the bar sometime.

This was really good, so much story here. Brings up all kinds of questions - and I like that.

You said you've lived this scene? Wow. Maybe that's why its so vivid and real. Excellent voice, good characterization.

Thanks for sharing this. If this is typical of the quality of writing for that closeted WIP, you need to pull it out again and dust it off. Really nice work.


Tara said...

I love all the background innuendos going on. Good scene.

Eric W. Trant said...

Lape: Yeah, no potty break. Bladders never fill, guns never run empty. Come on, bro, you know this!

Sarah: Harold is one of my favorite anti-heroes. I wrote 120k wds on this guy, not a one of them positive, and yet he's a freaking ace.

Stu, Tara: Thanks! This is an entry chapter to a novel. I'm just glad it wasn't too confusing with the background noise. The guy's seeing his dead father in the form of a crow who taps his window with Shave-and-a-haircut. I know. I'm a weirdo, too much Stephen King.

D: I'm Harold. Nice to meet you. Everything I wrote about him is TRUE. The bar is Fox & Hound here in Dallas, if I had to name it.

Raquel: Thanks! I'm new to the blog-o-sphere -- if not to writing and posting online -- so encouragement help help helps!

- Eric

EJ Fechenda said...

I know this guy, I've seen him in almost every bar I've been in. In fact, a couple of times I've been the brunette turning the dude down. Wait, no I never turn down a free drink, but anyway...

Seriously, Harold is easy to relate to and you have successfully created a character readers can identify with. The paranoia about his father stalking him is an intriguing element. Nice job!