Teegan, a young bartender, has her own "disability." She can smell people, not just their natural odor, but on a much deeper level. How does she cope in the small town of Sheldon, Mississippi, the mecca for the strange and others like Teegan?
I don't know why, but I love the smell of cleaning up Teegan's Bar at night when it is near closing time, and I am the last one there. The smell is always of blown-out candles, stale beer and cigarette smoke yet to be filtered out by the air conditioning unit back behind the stage. I didn't have to put up with the constant bombardments of unusual smells and people's hormonal changes as they staked out who they wanted to go home with that night.
That was the reputation of Teegan's. Discretion and silence were the key, but in my case that doesn't quite work. You see, I have this almost slight disability. My sense of smell is keener then normal. Beyond the smell of body odor with the musky undertones of sex, I smell emotions and death.
People began to think I was crazy, or was a one-trick psychic, when I supposedly predicted the death of 30-year- old Marnie Ives three years ago, right after I started working at Teegan's as the late-night waitress. It's not that I predicted her death, the man she left with had the sharp, spicy scent of expectation and danger. I had to leave that night because my sinus cavity was spiked and stinging because of it, almost like someone had poured hot sauce into my nose. Who would have thought intentions and emotions had a smell? Oh! But they do, and big time!
Tonight felt different as I wiped down the high bar tables with a bar rag. He sat at the far corner table near the stage, but far from the exit. The small, white votive candle was lit sending his carved face into nothing but shadows and angles. I could not get a good look at him, but I did know he was drinking Scotch and water, and had been drinking the same one the two hours he had been sitting there. His scent, cedar and fresh air, mingled with the myriad scents in the large room that I loved. It was like a big breath of oxygen after being pulled from a raging inferno.
It was exhilarating not to be hit by his immediate emotions, and I could almost bask in his smell. The only thing that I could tell was he was different, and not quite human. He was an unknown.
Many unknowns, those that are human, but different, came to Sheldon. It was a sort of mecca for those frowned down on in the “real world” for being too different. I was one of those unknowns, but had lived most of my life in the small Mississippi town. It was almost funny that the place to go for us would be in a small town in the middle of the Bible Belt of all places. The general population was accepting of those that came out in past years with talents like telepathy and past regressions, but they were scared of those who were too different, like me, and I am guessing my lone customer in the bar.
I walked over the large oak bar counter that spanned the back end of the bar. I looked at him as I slapped the bar rag onto the lacquered surface and began to wipe it down. He was rugged looking from what I could see; easily over six feet tall and solidly built. I heard the ice clink against glass as he lifted the drink.
“Sir, just to let you know, we will be closing in fifteen minutes,” I said loudly sweeping crumbs and peanut shells into the metal gutter screwed to the underside of the counter.
I smelled his scent spike stronger, signaling he was getting up, before his bar stool scraped against the bare concrete floor. His scent got stronger as he drew nearer, and he set the glass tumbler down on the bar. The ice rattled. I glanced at him and realized he was a lot taller then I had first figured. Even at my five foot seven height, I was barely at his shoulder. The angles of his face became a strong jawline and a stubborn chin, high cheekbones and deep-set eyes, but the color was indistinguishable.
“I'm sorry, sir. We don't serve alcohol past one,” I said as I finished wiping down the counter.
He looked at me and I finally saw that his eyes were different colors; one was black and the other an amber toned gold. And my mind started turning wondering where I had heard about eyes like his. They were unusual. I didn't realize I was staring at empty space until I heard the heavy door slam shut reverberating through the bar, and his scent no longer present in the large room.