Chapter 47: Seedy Bar

After sitting for a few minutes in my motel room, and warming up, I decided I needed to do a bit of running around. It was the middle of the afternoon.

I ventured out onto the main street, first stopping at the bank and emptying as much as I could from my bank account. The rest would have to wait for another day.

My first stop was the local convenience store to buy a carton of cigarettes. I asked the clerk if she knew anything about a bus terminal or any kind of a schedule. He couldn’t help me; I’d have to find out from somewhere else to get information from.

I crossed the street and started toward the motel again. I noticed a bar, with a flashing neon beer bottle in the window. It was like a sign or something.

I pulled open the door and wandered through the smoky bar. It was dark inside, and the atmosphere was depressing. Perfect.

I made my way through the drunken old men shooting pool and hoisted myself up onto a stool at the bar.

I removed my wallet and placed it on the bar in front of me.

An older man wearing a leather vest and a t-shirt advertising Harley Davidson motorcycles came in from the back room, carrying a case of beer.

“Hey, what do you have on tap?” I asked him.

The bartender frowned at me. “Aren’t you a little young to be in my bar?” He asked, studying me carefully.

I reached into my wallet and removed my fake ID, handing it to him.

He studied it, and glanced at me. He handed the ID back to me. “Well, that’s the best damn fake ID I’ve ever seen kid, you at least deserve a beer for that.”

“Thanks. What’s on tap?”

“I’ve got Heineken, Sam Adams, Bud, Coors Light, and Keystone light.” He answered, reaching down a glass.

“Bud, I guess.” I answered. “I’m not all that picky. It’s been a long, dry couple of months.”

“Sure thing, kid.” He answered. As he poured my beer, I reached into my newly purchased carton. “Mind if I smoke? Do you have an ashtray?”

“Nope, not at all. Knock yourself out.” He pushed an ashtray toward me and placed my beer in front of me.

“Thanks.” I answered. I lit my cigarette and glanced around. There wasn’t even a TV showing sports or anything. I didn’t really care about sports, I just wanted something to distract me from my own thoughts.

I finished my cigarette and butted it out in the ash tray. I asked for another beer and drained my first. He placed the new beer in front of me.

I sipped at it, deciding I should savor this beer.

I heard a low whistle behind me, and some sort of lewd cat call. I resisted the urge to spin around and check out what the other guys were ogling. But then I remembered the little hick town I was actually in. They were probably whistling at someone’s cousin. Or even a pig.

I lit another cigarette, taking a long slow drag.

“Oh, I feel so dirty now.” A soft, female voice said behind me.

I recognized the voice, but couldn’t place it.

I turned to see Olivia slowly coming into the bar, with Thomas trailing several steps behind her.

They were both in their PCA uniforms, and both looked ridiculously awkward and out of place.

I rolled my eyes. “You guys aren’t here for an intervention are you?”

Thomas looked like a deer caught in the headlights on an oncoming car.

Olivia tucked her hair behind her ear. “We need to talk…” She began.

I nodded, taking a drink from my beer. “About what?” I paused. “How did you guys get down here anyway?”

Olivia attempted to awkwardly position herself on the stool next to mine, it was made difficult by the height of the stool and her short kilt.

“I asked Mrs. Stanley if I could borrow her car. She’s head of the art department. She lent it to me, but now I have to help design the sets for the spring musical. They’re doing Grease.” She informed me awkwardly.

“Neat.” I mused, sipping at my beer. I flicked my cigarette into the ash tray.

The bartender came in from the back, gaping in shock at Olivia and Thomas.

Thomas shifted awkwardly, shoving his glasses up his nose.

“Are they staying too?” The bartender asked. “Because if I loose my liquor license over this…” He warned.

“They won’t say a word. And they aren’t staying.” I assured him.

He nodded, still eyeing Thomas and Olivia.

Thomas shifted. “Firestone doesn’t know you’ve left school property or anything yet, so you don’t risk expulsion when you get back… As long as we can keep him from finding out…”

I scoffed. “Who says I’m going back?”

“Isaac, please.” Olivia lightly laid her hand on my arm. I’d forgotten how smooth her skin was. “Can’t we talk about this? I know this is all because of me.” She lowered her voice. “I can’t live with myself for this. Don’t leave PCA just because of me… and… and for that matter, our whole fight was just really, really stupid. If you want to smoke, do it. Yeah, it bothers me, but I can live with it…” It seemed as though the words were killing her to say it. “Just come back to PCA and we’ll work it out, okay?”

“I’m not going back there.” I scoffed. “Are you kidding me? I don’t belong there.”

“You’ve done fine the last couple of months. You’ve kept your grades up and everything…” Thomas stated innocently.

“Right. So I can barely keep up. I mean that as a person, I don’t belong there. I’m a wolf among sheep.”

Thomas frowned, trying to understand the metaphor.

Olivia pursed her lips. She sighed softly. “Thomas, do you mind if I talk to Isaac alone for just a sec?”

She handed Thomas the keys to the car.

He nodded “Sure thing. I’m going to have to shower anyway…” He mumbled, then quickly added. “I’m locking the doors.”

I wanted to laugh at him.

I took a long drag off my cigarette, then butted it out in the ashtray.

I was waiting for the long conversation, and probably tears.

Olivia leaned forward and lightly laid her hand on my thigh. “Isaac, please. Come back to PCA… I… I know you said it had nothing to do with me, but I know it does. And I… I also know that I’m completely crazy about you. Can you tell me that you don’t have any feelings for me at all?”

I shrugged coldly, turning away from her and reaching for my beer.

Olivia drew in a deep breath; it was shaky. She was close to tears, I could tell without even looking at her.

“So, when you told me you were crazy about me too, you were lying?” She breathed. “You lied to me? You never wanted to be with me at all, then?”

I chugged down the rest of my beer, and placed the glass noisily on the bar. “Olivia, of course I wasn’t lying. I was entirely telling you the truth when I said all of those things… but…” I turned to her slowly. Her eyes were glistening with tears.

“But what?” She prompted. Her bottom lip was trembling.

“But nothing.” I finished. “I am crazy about you. I care about you a lot… I just… I thought I was doing the right thing here, Liv.” I leaned toward her and took her hands in mine. “Come on, can’t you see my point here? You can do so much better than me. I mean, there are a ton of guys at that school who could do so much more for you. I’m a criminal and a drug addict…”

“You’ve changed.” She insisted. “That’s not you, I know you.” She insisted. “You’re sweet, and caring. And you stick up for the people who need it, and you love with all your heart. You wear your heart on your sleeve sometimes, but you’re honest and you stick up for what you believe in. You’re a good guy, and you deserve a chance just like anyone else… You just… you have to give yourself a chance too. Please just come back to PCA… give it one more shot.”

I sighed. “Liv… don’t…” I stopped myself. I could feel my chest aching, and I couldn’t stand seeing her so torn up. “Okay. I’ll go back. But this is the last shot I’m going to give this place. If it doesn’t work out this time, that’s it.”

Olivia nodded. “Of course.”

I picked up my package of cigarettes and shoved them into my coat pocket. I stood and removed my wallet from my back pocket, I removed a ten dollar bill from the billfold and placed it on the bar. I was sure that the beer was considerably less than that, but someone who knew my ID was fake and served me anyway deserved a decent tip.

Olivia neatly hopped down from the stool. I moved an arm around her and quickly whisked her outside.

The snow was falling much harder now, and it occurred to me that Olivia wasn’t dressed appropriately.

I yanked off my coat and pulled it around her shoulders.

She smiled appreciatively at me. “Thank you.”

We found the car they had borrowed. Thomas was sitting in the backseat.

I moved to open the driver’s side door of the car, but it was locked.

I chuckled. “Paranoid much?” I muttered.

Thomas climbed over the front seat and unlocked the car. I held the door for Olivia, then climbed into the passenger seat.

“Are you coming back with us?” Thomas asked excitedly.

I nodded. “Yeah. Are you cool with having a room mate again?” I asked him.

“Absolutely.” Thomas grinned, clapping me on the shoulder.

“Do you mind if we pick up my stuff from the hotel?” I asked.

Olivia nodded. “Sure.”