He sat at a table in the bar, a glass of white wine in his right hand, nothing particular on his mind.
The door opened, and a draft of icy air wafted through the place, pushing the warmth on tip-toes into the far reaches of the corners. Two men followed, grating laughter blatting forth, the result of a pre-emptive drinking exercise. He could hardly blame them. The prices at this establishment were just a few dollars shy of obscene.
Both of the women sat at the bar, elbow-deep in excited story-telling. The blonde glanced over at the newcomers, then quickly back at her friend. It was too late: one of the men, the bald one with the overhanging paunch, caught her looking. A self-assured smile broke out, and he nudged his friend. Nodded at them.
“Nah. Leave them alone. Let’s just get a spot”. The taller one with the long dark hair started heading toward a table.
“Dude, I’m telling you – she wants me.” He grinned again and began to make his way to the bar. The taller one sighed and followed his friend.
The observer sat completely still. Waiting.
“Hey ladies. What’s happening?” The bald guy smiled at them.
The women ignored him, continuing their now-brittle discussion.
The bald guy frowned. Looked back at his friend.
“Hey. You don’t have to be so rude” he said.
The dark-haired woman turned slightly in her seat. Half looked at him. “Sorry. We’re not interested.” Turned back to her friend.
The observer’s eyes glittered. Anticipating.
“I didn’t ask if you were interested, did I?” said the bald guy, a little louder. “I’m just making conversation.”
“You know what? You’re both a couple of bitches”. The man’s face was now pink.
The tall guy grabbed his arm. “C’mon Jerry. Let’s go sit down.”
Jerry shook his hand off. “No man. I don’t think there’s any need for this. I don’t take shit from bitches. Ever. It isn’t right.”
The observer sat back, watching. He could feel the saliva gathering in the back of his mouth. His arm and leg muscles tensed. His vision narrowed.
The man’s voice got even louder. “But I guess bitches gotta be bitches.” His face turned ugly with rage. “Right, bitches?”
The bartender walked up. “Sir, I think you’re going to have to leave.”
Jerry glared at him, fuming. “Oh I’ll leave. Just as soon as I get an apology from these bitches.” Turned back to the women. “How about it, bitches? Hey?”
The women had stopped talking. They weren’t looking at him. They just sat there, rigid.
The friend spoke. “Jerry, come on. Let’s go. There’s another bar down the street.”
Jerry whipped around. Glared at his friend. “Pete, fuck off.” Turned back to the women. “I asked you bitches for a fucking apology. What’s it going to be?”
The observer stood up, scraping his chair loudly on the floor. All of them looked at him.
He slowly sauntered to the bar, empty wine glass in his hand. Stood between Jerry and the woman. “I’d like another glass of wine, please.”
“Hey asshole. You’re in my way. We were talking.”
The observer put his hands down to his sides. Turned and stared at the bald man. Said nothing.
Jerry looked at him. Huffy and upset.
The observer felt the growl, deep in his chest. Clamped down on it. Continued to stare at the bald man. Every muscle was pulsing. Ready.
A few seconds elapsed, as they stared at each other. The bartender backed away. Reached into his pocket. Probably to get his cell phone. Jerry’s eyes began to dart back and forth. Confused. He dropped his glance.
The observer looked at his friend. Nodded. The friend gave a slight nod back.
“C’mon Jerry. Let’s go.”
Face entirely red, Jerry shrugged. Both of them turned away.
The observer watched them leave the bar. Felt his muscles and face relax. He could feel his heart slowing down.
The bartender gave the observer his glass of wine. “This one’s on the house.”
The observer nodded. Grabbed the wine. Turned back to go to his table. The dark haired woman touched his arm.
The observer turned. Smiled. “I didn’t do anything.”