It was a scene from Out of the Past. Literally. Very noir.
There’s this little bar called Aroma. A last stand for habits that die hard. He wasn’t a regular in the usual sense; just there on the first Tuesday of every month at 6.
He drinks alone. Just one drink. Nurses it for an hour. He drinks not to get drunk or to forget. Rather, to remember. An indulgence that’s easily categorized in ‘what the hell’. It’s worth that. She’s worth that.
So on one of those first Tuesdays, she walks into the bar. She’s wearing a simple black dress, just like a scene in a movie, because it is. Hair just so. Makeup subtle, but to impress. She doesn’t need much, she‘s already picture perfect. Lithe. Sultry. Confident, but mostly on the surface.
She sits at the far end of the bar and orders a drink. He watches her as if for the first time, because in this little bit of theatre, in this place, at this time, in both their lives, it is. The past would be set aside, if just for tonight, but not forgotten. Beyond that was beyond that.
So he doesn’t notice her at first, but when he does, and their eyes meet at a distance, he feels a shiver. It’s a true power exchange. She feels it too. He gives her this power; a woman likes to be noticed. And she returns it with her gaze. And she knows its affect on him. And on herself.
She motions for the bartender and asks what he’s drinking and it soon arrives on little paper napkin. Overt flirtation? Obviously. A peace offering? Perhaps. Or is a drink sometimes just a drink? He looks up and she looks away. In fact he’s three sips into it before she crosses the room and sits down without introduction.
Film Noir has its heroes and its treachery. The truth distilled through circumstance, opportunity, self-interest and eventually, whatever we bring to the table. There are few outright winners.
But in the end, is it not for the journey? For the opportunity to feel alive while those around settle for cathartic numbness. That’s what they told themselves, even though the little voices sometimes challenge it. These two were well aware of the normal lives that their friends lived; at least what most people consider normal.
But at the core, what brought her to the table was a desire to dance on the edge, to see what was on the other side of the mountain. That’s what brought them together, tore them apart, and back together and so on in a cycle that carried them along. That’s where life is lived. Like punching a guy two heads taller. Or pulling down the curtains to make a dress for the ball. The opportunity to feel alive while those around settle for cathartic numbness.
They toast. They sit in silence for long periods, speaking to each other only in face ticks. Occasionally they reach to stir their drinks. Tonight he’ll break tradition and have a second.
The end credits? Every story has a different ending. And this one is being written over martinis on the first Tuesday of the month. Stoli. Three Olives. Slightly dirty.