Bar Crawl
Author:Andrea Randall

“What’s that supposed to mean?” He smiled until tiny lines formed at the edges of his eyes. His face was structured much like the rest of his body—rough and angular, but the skin was soft and virginal looking. False advertising was what it was.

 

“Nothing. You just don’t seem like that kind of guy to chat up girls about much other than your address,” I teased.

 

His eyes widened at the challenge. “Oh really?”

 

“Really. You don’t even have a girl in your band, for God’s sake.”

 

He rolled his eyes. “That’s because girls complicate everything.”

 

I twisted my lips. “Somehow, I don’t think it’s them.”

 

CJ put up his hands and threw his head back. The thick ropes of veins in his neck pulsed against his laughter. “All right, all right, I get it. Just tell me one thing.” His eyes held the smile no longer present across his suddenly serious lips.

 

“Shoot.”

 

He bit his lip as he seemed to consider his words. “Why’d you turn me down last time?”

 

I rolled my eyes and swallowed the rest of my drink before tapping Bradley on the shoulder. “Time to go,” I said when I finally got his attention.

 

“Come on!” CJ playfully blocked my exit. “It’s just a question.”

 

Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I sighed. “I’m not your type.”

 

His mouth swung open. “I don’t have a type.”

 

My eyes widened at his perverted honesty. “You’re a pig.”

 

I waded through the humid bar, Bradley next to me and CJ on our tail. “That’s not what I meant. Frankie. Frankie!” CJ called in animated angst. “Ah, man. Whatever. I’ll get your answer one of these days. See you next week!”

 

Before I’d even reached the door, Bradley had convinced me to stay at the bar. It was only a little after ten, and he said we weren’t allowed to be old people.

 

“Fine. We’ll stay for a few more drinks.” I tossed my bag onto the stool next to me, and kept my back to the stage.

 

Bradley grinned and shook his head. “I don’t get you women sometimes. You’d claw each other’s eyes out to get a guy to notice you, and then one does, and—”

 

“Shut up.” I held up my hand and arched my eye brow at him. Well, tried to. I’d never been proficient at it. “First of all, I don’t clamor for guys’ attention. Second, he wasn’t even paying me attention. It was more my tits, ass, and whatever else his sick little brain could come up with.”

 

“What’s the difference?” Bradley shrugged and guzzled some of his beer. His impish grin saved him from a swift smack.

 

 

 

As Bradley and I enjoyed the rest of our evening, complete with meeting up with a few of our coworkers from a sister school, I worked diligently to keep my back to the stage and my eyes far away from the misogynist percussionist who showed little interest in anything but his drumsticks or his…stick.

 

 

 

 

 

CJ

 

 

“Did you just strike out with that girl, Ceej?” Lex hoisted a full pitcher of beer over my head and held it in his thick hand as if it were simply a pint.

 

I shrugged passively, avoiding looking over my shoulder to where I knew she stood with her friends. “Whatever. Wanna talk about striking out? Let’s take a look at your birth certificate, Lenox,” I mocked his birth name—which is why he always went by Lex—bracing myself for what was sure to be a pissah of a shoulder punch.

 

Once feeling returned to my upper arm, I continued. “Nah, she’s just some girl I know.”

 

That was a massive lie. I didn’t know a damn thing about her aside from her name and those freckles. That, and I’d never seen her at the same bar twice except for tonight. And, this was only the second time I’d seen her at Finnegan’s. She was different. She seemed to spend most of her nights out watching people just like I did, though I doubted her motivations were the same.

 

The scanning. The guessing. The piecing together of stories only shown in the bar for a few hours a night. It might get old for some, I guess. But, I couldn’t help but find people completely fascinating.

 

A few months ago when she’d turned me down. I’d forgotten what she’d looked like by the next morning when I kissed Tanya goodbye and sent her on her way in a cab I’d paid for the night before. That lasted until the second time I saw her, at Dunes up in Provincetown.

 

Not only did she stick out because she wasn’t a local, and only locals too drunk to know better or too license-restricted to go anywhere else patronized Dunes, but her flippant rejection of me from earlier stuck out as plainly as those freckles that speckled her nose and cheeks. She didn’t wear a ton of makeup. Nice, I’d thought passively as I mentally thumbed through the catalogue of “mornings after” I’d had. Sunrise is not always a magical experience. And, tan face makeup shit doesn’t wash easily out of pillowcases.

 

“Yo, CJ.” Lex snapped his hands in front of my face and pointed to my pitcher of beer, which was still three-quarters full.

 

“Yeah?” I tried.

 

He rolled his eyes. “Get over her, man. Look at all the skirts in here tonight.” He held out his hands and took a deep breath, as if he were in a flower shop.

 

Gross, dude.