Fretercise Part 2

     Jacqueline had finally arranged her desk into an order that she felt she could actually do some work when she looked down at her mobile, and saw that it was time for work to be over. She logged-out of her computer, placed the manual in her purse, and made her way to her '96 Toyota Camry, the entire time reflecting upon why she was even going.

    “I'm new, no one would notice that I wasn't there.” She thought to herself, as she entered into her car. “I'll say another stupid thing and that'll be last time anyone takes me seriously.”

    Turning the ignition, the engine sputtered to life; it was time to commit to what she was going to do with her evening. She hated crowds, hated new people, hated new places. Hated herself for saying she would go. What would Robert think of her if she said she'd go and then didn't show? She certainly couldn't fain illness on her first day. With a deep sigh, she placed the stick into reverse, “Well, I got myself into this, I can leave after an half-hour.”

    The rest of the journey she drove there withAll Things Considered” on WUSF playing quietly in the background. It took thirty-minutes to get there, “Gods do I hate the traffic here.” she thought as she pulled into the rubble that served as a parking lot. It was clear to her this place had been at this location for decades, but little love had been placed back into it. Apart from the pavement filled with cracks, was a building whose green and yellow paint was once neon. Though the paint was flaking off, it's rain gutters long gone, the building still gave the sense of being homely. She surveyed the lot and saw six cars. Perhaps she'll be early enough that she can leave while very few people were around. She found a spot near the entrance, placed the car into neutral, and pulled up the parking brake. As she exited, she saw that a line of three more cars were turning into McKelly's. “Fuck.” she whispered, steeling herself for the evening and making her way inside.

    The interior of the place was clearly from the '80s as well.When the place first open it must have been a perfect place to take a date, but today its must be frequented by those very first daters. There was a smallish wooden dance floor in the centre of the pub, with booths surrounding it. Two old couple sat in the booths, enjoying their dinner. The couple certainly fit the Florida clichéof a retiree at the Early Bird Special. At the far end of the dance floor was a raised stage, that must have been used for local bands and DJs. To the right of the stage was a double-arching doorway, albeit missing the doors. From behind the wall, through the doorway, she could make out laughter; that must be where the group was meeting. As she walked towards the second room, she saw Robert withtwo other people. None of whom she recognised.

    Robert waved her over, and as she approached him, he bellowed out over the music, “Hey! You made it wonderful.” She smiled back as she reached him. “Let me introduce you everyone here so far. That's Jack.” He points to a shortish man who's about 1.75 m. Through the tight fitting shirt she could clearly see that he was extremely muscular. Jacqueline reached her hand out and Jack reciprocated with a more than firm shake, as if to say to her, “Hi, I'm Jack. I work out.”

     “Sup.” Jack said with a cocky smile. It's clear to her that he's use to women fawning over him. Well she would not be one of them.

     “And that's Amber.” Robert continues pointing to a brunet at the end of the bar counter. Amber looks up from her mobile and gives Jacqueline a “hey” head movement. Before Jacqueline could wave to her, Amber had already turned her head back to her mobile.

    Robert gave a soft laugh, “Don't take it personally, she'll be friendlier later tonight. Here let me get you a beer.” He raises his hand, “Bill, two more.” The bartender pulls mugs and starts to fill them from the tap. As they waiting, Robert continued, “So, what did you think of the place?”, pointing to the bar around them.

     Jacqueline gave the large bar room a second glance. The room is filled with round tables with small bulb lights hanging above each one. The wall is covered with neon signs and advertisements of various major beer brands. “Well, I wont be surprised when the hair metal band comes on later tonight.” She wished she hadn't said that as soon as the words left her mouth. Was this the comment that would seal her fate?

    Robert gave a soft chuckle, very reminiscent to the one from earlier that day. “Yeah, I suppose it's a bit of a dive, but the draught beer is priced just right.” He paused for a moment. “It's cheep, and not watered down.” As Robert completed his sentence, Bill brought over two beers and placed them in front of Robert. Robert handed one to Jacqueline, and as she received the beer, he raised his glass in the air. “A toast. May you get everything that you deserve in life.”

     “Why thank-you.” She replied as they clinked their classes. As she took a sip from her beer, she saw Robert's facial expression change to excitement.

     “Hey, you finally decided to come out!” Robert exclaimed as he motioned to excuse himself and began to walk towards a couple of people entering the room. One was a pudgy blond man in his mid-thirties standing about 1.76m. The other was a pale raven-haired woman late-twenties about 1.6m tall. Robert walked up to the blond man, gave him a big hug, and gave a friendly slap on the shoulder to the black haired woman. Robert then motioned to Jacqueline and began to guide the two towards her.

     As they approached Jacqueline, Robert said to her, “Jacqueline let me introduce you to two of my best friends, Arnold and Michelle.”

     “It's nice to meet you both.” Before Jacqueline could get another word out, Robert was already escorting them to the bartender. It quickly became apparent that nights out with Robert are an adventure as he ordered a round of shots for the three of them.


 

 

Image "Bar" provided by flickr.com - Helen Cook CCSA, https://flic.kr/p/5HJK2G

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