Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the February 11th, 2018 Edition of SPF. This is a bit of a longer piece. Written for a writer’s course, around 500 Words as opposed to 200 Words or less. I cleaned it up and changed the original a bit.
Credit: J. Carol Hardy
Charlene twists her hair. The potent drink on the bar is her fifth tequila shot in an hour. The hazy, dreamlike atmosphere in the crowded town bar confuses her. Most of the crowd puff away, smoke lingering in the air, twisting above her, a toxic dragon of cigarette stench.
An attractive singer who isn’t local, belts out tunes while strumming his guitar. His catchy music has Charlene humming, her fingers tapping to the rhythm.
When he plays a soft song, the crowd boos. Some men throw beer bottles that smash and scatter glass against the small stage’s back wall. The singer peers around the room, his eyes darting back and forth. A bouncer drags away one of the offenders and the singer resumes his music, belting out cheerful tunes once more.
Charlene chuckles. As per usual, the town bar echoes with boisterous laughter and harmless drunks telling tale tales. Then, the creep beside her, pokes her arm. “Drink it, drink the shot.”
She peers up at him and his putrid breath makes her sick. “I don’t want it. Go away.” He leers and Charlene shivers.
She turns, stumbles towards the cracked vinyl booth where her coat and purse lay. Grabbing them she fumbles, zipping up her coat. The creep follows her and pinches her chin, trying to pour the shot into her mouth.
Warm tequila dribbles from her lips, acrid as she chokes. “No more, I don’t want anymore.” She cuts off his words, the poison of the creep’s lizard-tongue. “I’m going home — alone.”
Charlene teeters, leaning against the worn bar. She presses her hands against the humid backs of people waiting to buy more drinks. In open places, she leans on the bar, tracing it’s antique carvings, the dents on its worn surface. Jerry, one of the bartenders, slides her a glass of water. She nods at him, and swallows, her throat aching.
Past the bar, Charlene leans against a lone stool at a table. The stool wobbles on splintering legs. She grits her teeth, than sucks out a sliver of wood from her thumb. A gift from the table top.
Head spinning, Charlene lands in the quiet of the shuffleboard area, dizzy against the table. She presses her phone, fingers clumsy as she sends for an Uber. She downs more water from her purse. With some clarity, she wanders through sweat-soaked bodies towards the main door.
In the chill of the night, the creep is somehow beside her, waiting to follow her into her Uber. She ignores him, hobbling to a bouncer. “He’s following me, make him go away. He put something in my drink.”
The lie slips out; she doesn’t care. The creep who bought her five shots scares her. The bouncer’s blue eyes bulge. “No problem, Miss. I’ll ensure you get into the Uber alone.”
The bouncer offers the creep free beer to go back inside, and Charlene shivers, the wind biting at her face as flurries fly. She falls asleep inside the Uber, and the driver helps her into her apartment on the third floor. He takes the key from her hand and unlocks her door as she offers him a scrunched five-dollar bill.
“It’s fine. I don’t need help.”
The driver shakes his head. “That man you were running from, he’s bad. He has a different woman drunk each weekend night; he drugs many of them. The bouncer’s my friend, and he made sure you got into my Uber. We’re trying to catch him, but this a**holes too experienced to leave much evidence.”
The fact that the creep could’ve drugged her for ‘real’ makes Charlene ill. She rushes to the kitchen sink, throwing up multiple times.
The Uber driver ‘Ahems’ behind her. “I’m going now. Will you be okay?’
She nods. “Thank God, you’re a good man.”
“Stop accepting drinks from weird strangers. Don’t lead guys like him on. You have to think before you accept more than one drink; especially, in a small town like ours.”
Charlene nods, collapsing on the floor. She knows she’s asleep, but a sharp tempo beats against her temples. She’s half-awake, restless, afraid of the nightmares seeping in; the creep’s leering grin and eyes of a predator.
©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.