Dull fluorescent lights pulsed over a sticky floor. The bar appeared seedy but had become their favorite place for after work drinks. Often a whole crowd of ‘call girls’ as they identified themselves would make the journey from the call center to the bar before going home for the evening. They had their own booth and everything.
Tonight the booth looked forlorn with only two bodies to occupy its well worn vinyl seats. She had taken some major hits to her numbers today. A dutiful friend, Dylan sought to amend the devastation with the aid of spirits.
The poor performance at work certainly didn’t improve her mental state but it was far from the cause of it. She hated this bar. It was acceptable when the booth was crammed full of people, blocking her view from the back wall. Tonight the void between her and Dylan spread wide and drew all her attention towards the shinning vertical surface.
She buried her head in her arms. Bent low over the table protecting herself from the temptation. Reflective surfaces were ubiquitous. Windows, computer and television screens, mirrors found in the strangest places. She shut her eyes tightly against the horror of it all. Even the surface of this table if she looked at it close enough and there were no obstructing shadows could vaguely reflect her features.
She wanted to look; she always wanted to look. Sometimes she was unable to tear her eyes away from her appearance. Yet each time she looked there was something more frightening. Maybe if she had been a better person none of this would have happened.
A martini glass cold and slightly damp thudded delicately in front of her folded forearms. She peeked above them contemplating if inebriation would improve her situation. She spied Dylan’s mouth agape. Jaw extended and then drawn taught not even bothering to abolish his banter for a sip of his mojito.
The topic of his repartee was office gossip. On the walk over she had enjoyed the conversation. Now she realized that she shouldn’t have encouraged his behavior. Whether it was hearsay, scandal or mockery engaging in such defamatory behavior would no doubt only feed it.
And it was growing wasn’t it? Hadn’t she seen it just this morning protruding from her leg? All day she had denied it. She drowned the thoughts in the amusement of the childish faces Dylan would pull on boring or annoying calls. They would not sink though. As certainly as the mirror was drawing her face towards it the thing was growing inside of her.
She did not know its plans, its purpose. That induced enough anxiety to bring modest amounts of bile up from the pit of her empty stomach to her mouth. She sat up straight with a squishing squeaking sound from the rubbery upholstery. Dylan had his thumb and index finger squeezing his nostrils together palm perched over his nose.
“I knoooooow you sent me the light blue commemorative pin for all that money I donated but I would just loooooove to have one in mauve. And I’m like it’s the same thing lady! But she kept going on and on about how much money she had donated and how she could have spent it on her grandkids and how it was all in the honor of her poor dead bastard of a husband. So naturally I just lied to her and hung up.”
“You know our calls are monitored right?” All the friendliness had vanished from her tone. “Oh come on, that lady was incorrigible.” She shattered. “Shut up Dylan! Gossiping is a sin, it’s wrong. So is lying. How am I ever going to be free of it with you incessantly feeding it through my ears? It’s wrong Dylan and I can’t handle it!”
He protested, apologized although she didn’t hear any of it. Her speech made she hastily left the bar and caught the first bus heading in the right direction. She could feel it now in her stomach.
It swooshed around as she walked. Just as the alcohol would have in her cavernous belly if she had drank any. It grew louder as the bus’ shoddy brakes bounced her around. The splattering noise was unbearably loud in her ears.Back at the bar Dylan sat once again baffled by one of her sudden outrages. And he began to wonder if there was truth to what she had said. He had always wondered if deep down he really was as horrible of a person as his father seemed to think he was.