Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Last Call - Rattlesnake Confusion - September 2007

Last Call

The band had played its last waltz and the dancers were finishing up their drinks, laughing and hugging their partners. She admired the way a Cajun band summoned up the music that held people in its sway, as if they were marionettes and the rhythm tugged the strings and spun them around. She was watching the last two dancers silently working out a two-step move when her view was suddenly obscured by a broad expanse of human sporting closely-cropped red hair and a LSU football jersey.

“Hey honey, I’m Taurus…like the bull…you know, in the Zodiac?” He looked at her blankly, wanting to make sure that she knew what the Zodiac was, and also that she wasn’t confusing him with a mid-size Ford.

Taurus took her silence as acquiescence and leaned over the bar to instruct a 22-year old chemistry major to bring him a bourbon and coke. “And when I say bourbon, I mean good bourbon; don’t be tryin’ no tricks back there, darlin’!” He settled his bulk against the bar and turned to her again. “You gotta watch ‘em, they’ll charge you for the top shelf and then pull the ol’ switcheroo on ya!”

She resolutely studied the beads of condensation sliding down her martini glass, quickly glancing sideways at the man next to her: mid-thirties, only slightly out of shape, he played some high school football but didn’t have the grades to stay in college, she’d seen his type before. Tonight, however, his playing field was Rooster’s Cajun Cabin and she knew he was thinking of her as the goal line.

His phone chirped. He studied the display for a moment, answered and barked “hold on” as he drained his glass. He gestured to the chemistry major and walked off toward the bathrooms as the bartender came up, winked at her and poured Taurus a well brand.

It wasn’t long before Taurus walked back up to her, leaning in even closer. In the glow of the video poker machine, he stared into his drink and swirled the glass, what he told himself was a thoughtful, refined gesture. He had palmed the pills while in the bathroom and now only had to distract her and slip them into her drink. He was actually getting good at this. He looked into her eyes and…

“Hey, where’d the big guy go?” the bartender asked, as she scooped up the bills under his half-empty glass.

“He asked me out.”

“And I turned him down,” she paused as she ran a manicured fingernail around the edge of a flattened Red Bull can, “you know how guys like that are, their ego gets crushed SO easily.”

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