“I’ll be right back, okay?” Mark asked Katie as he scanned for the bar’s bathroom. She smiled and he almost collided with a new customer as they walked in. Mark was cute in a klutzy kind of way. He had an improbably large face on such a slim frame and always had this cherub smile on underneath his light brown hair. Katie was glad she said yes when he asked her out.
When her date vanished from view, she turned her attention back to her beer and the patrons at the bar. They were young professional types, all looking to decompress or kick-start their nights. Khakis and button down shirts were everywhere with a few adventurous souls daring to wear jeans. She laughed to herself and had another sip of her drink.
“Hey doll. Are you alone?”
Katie’s brain stalled. Did some guy really just try that line? What year is it in his world?
She turned and saw a tall guy with whiskey on his breath and hunger in his cold blue eyes. From his shaved head to his calloused hands, he clearly wasn’t in the khaki-clad gang.
“Sorry but I’m here with somebody.” She said, in a polite but firm tone. The guy didn’t seem to care.
“Well I don’t see somebody here, so why don’t I buy you a drink?” he said, with a slight stumble as he tried to shift his weight onto the bar.
“I’ve already got a drink and am really not interested.” Katie tried again to get the guy to leave, her voice getting harder.
“So you do. Well I’ll just have your drink too then.” He signed for two shots of bourbon which materialized in short order. He handed the bartender a twenty and threw back the short glasses faster than Katie could even process.
“You ever wonder what would happen if you didn’t give it up?” he asked as he ran a hand over his face into his former hairline.
“Dude, seriously?” Katie asked, frustrated and wishing this loser would take a hint. The guy didn’t.
He looked at her like he didn’t hear her. There was still hunger in his eyes but it wasn’t the hunger she saw when she caught a guy looking down her shirt or up her legs. This guy was different.
“Like why give it up? Why put up with it? Why not just say ‘fuck it’, ya know?”
She had no idea what he was talking about and from the heavy slur of his speech, maybe he didn’t either.
The music changed in the background and a few of the patrons crossed over to the dancefloor. “Hey I like this song. Dance with me.” The guy said, snapping out whatever haze he was in. He stood up, again almost tripping and wiping out but he managed to catch himself. As he hoisted himself off the bar, he was dancing well out of sync with the music.
It would have been comical if it weren’t so annoying.
“Let’s go, doll.” He reached for her hand.
“Hey, I said no!” Katie said, breaking free of his grip.
“Everybody says no. Why not start a fashion?” he said with a warm and drunken smile and bloodshot eyes. It wasn’t the smile that stood out to her. It was his tone. She could hear a deep vein of emotion being tapped into. It was so genuine, so vulnerable that a rogue thought raced across her mind of saying yes.
“Hey bud, can I help you?” Mark had returned from the bathroom. The drunk ignored him and kept his hand out for Katie to take.
“My somebody’s here. Thanks for the memories.” Katie said, standing up and taking a step back. Even with her attention back on Mark, she could see the smile collapsing on the face of the other guy. That weird warmth he had a moment ago was snuffed out like a match light and that hunger was back.
The guy turned to face Mark.
The two eyed each other up for a moment.
“Do you mind?” Mark asked the guy, his face growing irritated and a little nervous.
“Nope” the guy said as the corners of his mouth rolled into a malevolent grin. Without a second’s hesitation, the guy head-butted Mark. The impact sent Mark to the ground, blood trickling from his nose. The guy was also made unsteady by the strike and wobbled on uncertain legs.
He turned back to Katie just in time to catch the bouncer’s fist clean to the face. The guy hit the ground like a sack of flour. The bouncer grabbed him by his shirt and pulled him to his feet. The guy tried to break the bouncer’s grip but the bouncer just twisted the guy’s arm and put him in a hold. The guy struggled against it but it was pointless. The last thing Katie saw before the guy was propelled into the sidewalk was that same warm drunken smile on his face.