Margaret looked up at the flickering neon sign above her. It flashed “The El Rey Club” in red with white lightbulbs surrounding it. She smiled faintly at the repetition in the name. Even if she was having trouble writing, she could still be an editor.
Deciding this would be a good spot to get out of her head space and hopefully relieve some of her writer’s block, she pushed open the grimy oak door with her forearm. The interior of the bar was as dark if not darker than the nighttime city that bustled outside. Amber colored lights illuminated the bar and the half dozen or so booths at the back. Except for the bartender and three patrons sitting on stools the place was empty. Not much of a club, Margaret thought as she took a seat along the length of planking, keeping a few seats distance from the other customers.
The bartender strolled over after putting a cigarette out in an overflowing ashtray. “What’ll ya have?” he drawled as he wiped the bar with a dingy rag.
Margaret had to think a moment. It had been a long time since she had ventured out on her own and didn’t know how to answer. The barkeep waited patiently, rubbing the same spot with the rag. He was in no hurry. No one here was in any hurry.
“A rye old fashioned,” Margaret finally blurted out, remembering that it had been Howard’s favorite drink.
“Coming up,” the bartender replied. He turned to the bottles and glasses behind the bar and began on the concoction. In short order, he returned and put the old fashion glass with amber liquid in front of Margaret. She pulled some money from her purse, but he was already off doing other tasks.
She took a tentative sip then a larger draught. The sweetness helped alleviate the alcohol burn as the liquid eased down her throat. A warmth began to emanate within her and she took another swallow. She put the glass down and let out a pent-up sigh. It had been so long since she had been out and relaxed, Margaret didn’t realize how much stress she had been carrying. She picked the glass up again and brought it to her lips.
“You’re not a regular here are ya?” The question stopped the glass from reaching Margaret’s lips. She turned to look at the trio at the end of the bar. Two men and a woman. All on the backside of middle age and never seen better days. Margaret smiled and shook her head. The bartender had retuned to the bar and refreshed the regulars’ drinks.
“Come on over and tell us about yourself,” the woman invited. “Don’t mind these two. They don’t bite.”
Margaret looked up to the bartender to try to get a feel for the situation. His gaze met her’s briefly and he gave a short nod.
“Come on deary,” the man furthest from her cackled. “Come drink from the shallows.”
Margaret exhaled a short breath, got up with her drink in hand and joined the trio. The other old man tipped his hat to her. “So, tell us about yourself. We don’t get many new people here, and these two are tired of all my stories.”
The request was simple enough, but it opened a door that was long barred. Margaret regaled her companions with her life story. They sat in rapt attention at her life, her loves and her losses. Even the bartender stopped what he was doing and stood nearby listening.
At the end, the woman drained the contents of her glass and stated, “You ought to put that down in writing. It’d make a helluva book.”
It felt as if she had been hit by a bulldozer. Margaret had never realized that her own life could be inspiration. She downed the remains of her own glass and ordered another. While she didn’t want to lose any time not writing, she also saw that she had found her muses. This time instead of her talking she listened as they each told her their stories and experiences.
– – – – – – –
Yikes! Has it been two months since I’ve written anything? Well, I do have a pretty good reason, and hopefully I can write it all down to share with everyone. Anyway, thanks again to Jeremy’s Hello Wednesday Challenge for getting me out of my head space. It’s a little raw and unpolished, but it is words on paper and I need to get back in the habit of writing again.