There’s just something about a local bar that made your feet stomp, your ass shake, and your tongue dry as cotton. As the door opened, the deafening mixture of rock and country assaulted my ears. My taste buds perked up on my tongue to state a single demand. Beer. I’ve never been a fan of hard liquor. I don’t need an excuse to act stupid, get naked, or be bold. When the higher authority created me, he gave me a healthy dose of exhibitionism and skimped on the common sense.
No sooner had I walked in when a regular wrapped her intoxicated arm around me and said how happy she was to see me. Her name escaped me, but drunk people liked everyone, and I was her new best friend.
A chorus of voices chimed out my name as I found my small crew of friends in the back corner of the bar, right beside the karaoke stage. How convenient. Kurtis sat at the end, with a seat open next to him. He patted the center of the bar stool.
“Saved you a seat.”
Tonight, he wore a t-shirt that had a picture of entwined utensils that says ‘I like to spoon after I fork’. A part of me wanted to reply, can we get a jump start on the forking, but I behaved because I noticed across from the seat was Sharon. Dear holy entity above, what the hell was she wearing?
My boss looked like a hooker.
Breathe, stay calm, and say something nice. Anything but what was on the tip of my tongue. Something that doesn’t talk about her…
“Damn Sharon, your girls came out to play!” I had absolutely no willpower in life.
The straw of her glass rose to her lips as she arched a well-manicured eyebrow at me before saluting me with her drink before she put it back down. “What’s the point of having them, if you hide them away in layers of tops?”
Oh! Point for the boss lady. I had on three shirts. The first a green camisole, and then a button-down shirt over top with half the buttons undone. Last a sweater because it’s November and I can’t stand being cold. My girls were in hibernation.
“So, foot in mouth girl, whatever is on tap?” Kurtis asked.
I nodded, still trying to form a retort to Sharon’s thrown shade. He remembered my beverage of choice. First, he saved me a seat, and next my beer based on budget choice. I wish he saw me as a sex object. Though, Sharon probably had a point about the whole clothing thing. If I wanted to be sexy, I probably should have tried to dress that way. I really dislike my boss, especially when she’s right. As always, I watched him walk away as he left the table to get me a beer. Then I turned and greeted the rest of the table.
My foot tapped against the metal posts of the stool as I listened to a poor rendition of a newer country song. When someone butchered a song, it made my day. What’s the point of karaoke if everyone sounded like they ripped the vocal cords from the throat of angels? I want to hear some glass shattering, nerve fraying, cat-howling thrown down noise. That way, when I stepped on stage and sounded moderately decent, I’d be a welcomes relief.
“Daria, it’s a good thing he turned his back. You just molested him eight ways to Sunday with those eyes.”
Okay, so point two for boss lady, a big fat zero for inept verbal volley-baller, Daria Gale Platts. What does one say to their boss that shouldn’t be out drinking with her subordinates?
“Suck it.” Well, not my best retort ever, but it worked just the same, I guess.
She gave me an odd look, her small pink tongue darted out for a second. She looked at me with a cross sadness, and I swear I saw her tears filling with moisture. The woman had a touch of crazy. When Kurtis came back with my beer, I was more than ready divert my attention from Sharon to anything else.
“Dance with me?”
Whereas I went to a bar to sing, Kurtis went to dance. He’s the only straight man I’d ever met who genuinely liked to dance. Me? I was born with two left feet and an invisible third one that tripped me. However, I loved any excuse to be in his arms, so I hopped off the stool, beer in hand and went with him.
The next song was an oldie by a legendary country artist. He held out his hand to me. With flair, I bowed before him and took his in mine. He pulled me close and wrapped his arms around me. I’d like to say this was because he wanted to hold me close, but really if he didn’t lead me on the floor completely, I’d bust up his toes. We’ve learned this over the last few years of going to bars together. As I tried to keep my feet in rhythm with his, I learned two things. One, he smelled amazing. I wanted to bury my nose in his neck and inhale the essence that made up Kurtis Winterbourne. As his hands moved down toward my ass, I completely forgot what the second thing was.
Holy crap, he grabbed my butt.
I looked up at him. His eyes sparkled with amusement. “You should see your face right now.”
“I almost dropped my beer.”
“That would have been a travesty.”
“Good beer shouldn’t go to waste.”
“I will kiss you now, Daria.”
What? No sooner did he say the words when his mouth dipped down and captured mine. At first the shock made my mind draw a blank, as if I’d forgotten how to kiss. Then reality kicked in and I remembered how long I’d wanted this. With my fingers around the neck of the bottle, I wrapped my arms around his neck and returned his kiss with gusto.
By the time he drew back, I lost the ability to breathe, think, and speak, in that order. I blinked a few times as I stared at him, my mouth still carried the taste of his lips. “Well golly gee, sir, I believe you just altered the entire course of our friendship.”
He leaned forward and kissed the tip of my nose, which made me crinkle it. “I’m tired of waiting for you to make the first move.”
Now it all made sense. I haven’t yet woken up for the day. That explains Sharon’s cryptic goodbye from work, and this anomaly of Kurtis’s mouth on mine. I’m still warm and snug in my bed, with a big old smile on my lips.
“Maybe I was waiting on you.”
“Then you should have said so.”
“That defeats the purpose of the first move.”
We danced the next song and in those few moments I knew bliss. I don’t know when my dreams became a reality, but tonight under the corny strobe lighting of my favorite bar, Kurtis Winterbourne kissed me. I leaned closer, resting my cheek against his shoulder and breathed in his scent. God, he smelled so good.
“One of our local favorites is up next, come on over Daria!”
The usual excitement I experienced when about to sing didn’t happen because I didn’t want to step away from Kurtis.
“No, they mean some other Daria.”
“Get your ass on stage.”
I pulled away and walked up to the stage. The funny thing about being a regular at a small bar, the DJ learned what you could sing. She handed me the microphone and smiled. “Thanks sweetie, the night is a barren wasteland for people wanting to sing.”
“No worries, I was only making out on your dance floor.”
The music started, and I giggled. A song from the nineties about kissing. Never let it be said that the women in this town didn’t have a sense of humor.
As soon as the music started, the lights went out, and the sound died. My heart skipped a beat as a tremor of fear ran up my spine. It was hard enough to be on stage in front of others, but to be on stage, in the dark with no music made my nerves fray. The darkness settled on the crowd, and for a moment every person in the bar fell silent.
Apprehension filled me as I felt a presence in front of me, though I couldn’t see anyone there. While the dark was intense, it wasn’t pitch black, so I questioned my belief that I wasn’t alone on the stage.
A sharp pain exploded throughout my chest. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. My mouth gaped as I tried to scream, but no sound came out. When the lights came on, I looked out at the crowd. Their mirrored expressions of horror made me stagger back.
Again, I tried to speak, but the taste of copper flooded my mouth. A woman screamed as I fell to the ground. My legs just gave out as if they no longer worked. I looked down at my chest and saw a dark red stain spreading. Blood dribbled from my mouth to the front of my well covered boobs.
What the hell? Why was I bleeding?
Kurtis rushed up to the stage and put his arms around me, he pulled my head toward his chest. “Daria, look at me.”
I blinked a few times as I tried to stare up at him, but his face was all fuzzy and unfocused.
“That’s it, stay with me. Call 911.”
I tried to talk but gargled nonsense dribbled out of my mouth. I couldn’t feel my arms or my legs. My eyelids closed on their own accord. Each breath from my chest took more effort than I had left to give. The real threat of death took root in my chest as panic set in.
“No! Don’t close your eyes, look at me.”
My lips curled in a smile as I gave my last breath. At least I died in Kurtis’s arms.