We are the lone customers and the inside of the bar is—what’s the right word? Placid.
It has it’s quirks, this bar—along the lines of a badly designed David Lynch set. The chairs for one. The fibers are pinkish when you look at them closely—not too fine, sort of like not-so-curly pubic hairs. They get all over my shirt. Goddamn it I say under my breath, I just had this shirt cleaned.
The bartender nods and before I’ve even sat and turned to face him, reaches behind for the bottle without looking: two fingers of bourbon, one perfectly square bubble-less ice cube. Even the ice cubes aren’t real. I mouth a bit of the whiskey and inhale air into my mouth over it. It burns. I close my mouth and swallow. She’s looking at me intently.
I awaken, and as usual, she is sprawled next to me, twisted up in the sheets, taking up two thirds of the bed. My head is resting in the crook of my forearm and my right eye is scrunched up in folds of skin. The taste of bourbon on my tongue. I can’t really focus. She’s left one of the blinds open an inch and a slat of sunlight is cutting across the floor. It’s hitting just the curl of elastic on her panties and through my blurry vision it looks like a sea shell—the lip of a Conch I think. They are laying on the floor where I tossed them the night before after my ritual of slipping them off of her and covering my nose and mouth and breathing deeply. She smells like the sea. Scent of the sea, sea shell. It makes perfect sense.
And the chandelier—who the hell ever has a chandelier that size hanging in a bar this small? I once reached up and touched one of the prisms to feel it—and it’s plastic. It doesn’t make that gentle tinkling sound of crystal when a draft from the air conditioner hits it—it makes a flat plastic sound, a clacking noise; a noise like someone sifting through plastic cutlery in a wooden drawer.
I roll up on my elbow and take a deeper look at her face. I’m so close I can see my breath move the faint hairs on the side of her cheek. Her lips are slightly parted and one corner of her mouth is damp. I get closer. I take one of her lips between my teeth and nip. She jerks her head and her wide eyes narrow down to slits. There is a tiny red fleck of blood forming. What the fuck was that for? She shakes the hair out of her eyes and climbs over me to the floor. She scans the room then picks up her panties. She deftly steps into them and looking at me warily, goes into the bathroom and pulls the door tight.
The carpet is some sort of cubist nightmare—and it’s the kind of material that gives one wicked carpet burn. I briefly fantasize about grinding an enemy’s face on it hard—leaving an angry red welt crossing down the forehead, swollen eyelid, side of nose, mouth. She asks me what I’m thinking, but I’m not willing to tell her. She turns her head back to the mirror behind the bar and takes a sip of her wine.
There’s nothing to hold onto, it’s all facade, colored bauble, lacquered over. Wallpaper over the piss stains. Curtains that cover up a bricked-over window. Gaudy appearance over substance. Immediacy over intimacy. I roll over and push my face into the pillow—her scent is already fading. Soon she’ll be a disassembling memory, pieces sloughing off, unravelling, unhinging—like a toy I once had—carried around, played with—but never loved.