Charlie's was busy, but then it was Friday and Charlie's was always busy on Friday's. He sat at the bar looking around at the chaos that was swirling around the room. There was the usual mix of workers. Normal 9 to 5 types, their work done and there were retail workers, finished for the day and pretending for now that they did not have to go back to work in the morning. Michael took it all in, the wage slaves paying for drinks for the women that flocked to Charlie's for just that reason. He smiled to himself and took another swallow of his scotch. At forty, Michael, sat on the stool at the end of the bar and watched the ebb and flow of the crowd, not interested more than aesthetically in the short skirts and tight blouses. There was too much make-up and too much hair spray to even attract his attention sexually. He sighed inwardly and took another swallow of scotch before putting the empty glass on the bar. Mitch filled his glass and slid the bottle under the bar, rather than putting it back on the shelf. Michael's scotch was not for general consumption.
"A good crowd tonight," Michael said toasting Mitch who was overseeing the bar. Laci and Butch serving the drinks as fast as the patrons were placing them.
"Looks good, yes," Mitch said. "Charlie would be happy."
Michael smiled. "Yes he would. To Charlie."
"To Charlie," Mitch said, as he clinked his glass of tonic against Michael. "So what's the bet tonight?"
"Good question," Michael said, looking around the room. There were several clumps of people here and there. "OK. The guy in the blue shirt, white collar and cuff. Braces. Grey slacks. Hitting on the blonde, big tits, blue dress. She goes home with the redhead and not him."
Mitch smiled. "You should drink less Michael. OK. Twenty dollars," he said, putting the note on the bar. Michael took the twenty out of his shirt pocket and put it on top of Mitch's bill and watched Mitch scoop them up and put them in a glass on the top shelf, reserved for that purpose.
The door opened and another crowd of rain speckled patrons pushed in. Michael only gave them half a look and then did a double take. In the center of the group was a brunette. She was not tall, nor was she petite, but she was definitely a woman. She had a chest, she had hips, and from where he sat, she had a nice round ass. She was wearing a skirt, not tight but it flowed over her legs. She was wearing nylons but whether they were stockings or pantyhose, he could not tell from his seat across the crowded room. Her blouse was white and buttoned loosely, showing off her cleavage, curving down into the shadows of her blouse. Her heels were of a height that she stood comfortably on them without obvious strain. All these little details Michael took in one glance, but it was a flash of her blue eyes that seemed to cut through the darkness and catch his attention. He watched the group of revelers move to a table and placing their order. Overhead, the cast of Rent was crying for wine and beer and singing about La Vie Boheme which Michael found ironically appropriate at that moment.
Michael studied the group. Retail he thought, not enough of them in the uniforms of wage slaves, but too well dressed for anything else and most of them appearing to be barely out of University. The three women were of similar age. She appeared to be the oldest and he was betting she was the "adult in charge."
He noticed she had ordered wine as Janice put the glass of the red liquid in front of her. Michael smiled slightly and grimaced right along with her when she took her first sip. The house merlot was not bad exactly, but it was not the best money could buy either. He watched them raise a toast to Friday, or the end of the quarter, or random Chaos, any one of those things that people toast when they get together to blow off steam after work. The conversations seemed to devolve into little groups and he noticed that while she participated, she spent more time watching, her brilliant blue eyes missing nothing, a drop of Lapis hanging teasingly at the top of her cleavage moving slightly with the steady beat of her heart. Michael settled back and took another drink and looked quickly where her eyes seemed to roam. She did not spend much time looking at anyone in particular, and her drink was seemingly forgotten in front of her, as if she was cataloguing characters in a story. Figuring out what their next scene would be perhaps, maybe writing their story. He smiled as he imposed on her the very same qualities that he would look for. As a writer, Michael did just that and Fridays at Charlie's gave him plenty of fodder for the following week's writing.
"She's pretty," Mitch said, indicating his empty glass.
"Yes, she is. Not the sort of woman most here would look at twice, but I suspect there is a brain under that very nice body. Mitch, would you bring me two glasses of the Australian please?"
Mitch raised his eyebrow only a fraction at this request and signaled Butch who pulled the glasses down and pulled the bottle of Shiraz out of the wine fridge.
"By the way, thanks for the drinks," Michael said as the blonde and her redheaded girlfriend, both very tipsy, started for the door, the businessman nowhere in sight.
"Alex?" Mitch said to one of his servers. "The two at the door, the blonde and the redhead. Get them a cab."
Alex nodded and moved off to intercept the ladies and Michael smiled and walked over to the table, his wine in each hand.
"Might I offer you something more ... palatable?" Michael asked her, sliding the Shiraz across the table to her. He scooped up the merlot and put it on a tray of passing dishes. Her co-workers all stopped their conversations as she looked at him and he tried not to drown in her eyes.
"Michael Anderson," he said by way of introduction. "The merlot really needs food to be drinkable. It goes very well with the chili for example."
"Claire," she said, smiling at him shyly. "And this is Renee, Sue, Tom, Alice, and Gary." She took a small sip after introducing the group and everyone said their hellos and reshuffled, allowing Michael to stand next to Claire at the bar table. Even in heels she was shorter than his almost six foot frame, but not so much so that he would get a crick in his neck if he were to kiss her for long periods of time. The thought brought a smile to his face.
"You're right, this is much better," she said looking at him quickly. Michael suspected she was cataloging him as he had done to her. His jeans were clean and faded from washing but hardly disreputable. His simple light blue t-shirt added some colour to his grey eyes. He knew he would never win prizes for his looks, but that was never something that bothered him and he was guessing she was not focused on his looks either.
"So, what's my story?" he asked her as he sipped his own wine. He smirked as her eyes widened slightly in surprise.
"I was watching you look at everyone. The same way I do actually. And, since I am a writer, I was guessing you might have similar predilections."
She seemed to study him for a moment and Michael stood quietly, letting her without any self consciousness. He, in turn, was enjoying the gentle way her neck curved and joined her shoulder. Graceful and muscular. She was soft without being fat but he could see the muscles that indicated she did something to stay fit without being a slave to it.
"I'm not a writer," she said.
"Well, maybe not professionally, but I am willing to bet you have very involved day dreams."
Claire smiled at that as he continued. "With very rich characters. Like that guy over there. He just dropped a hundred dollars on liquor and the woman he was schmoozing left in a taxi with a rather fetching redhead. So, you have to wonder, come Monday, will it be all over the office that they are lesbians? Or maybe they were already lovers and he wasn't paying attention and thought he had a play with her."
"I think they were looking for a third and he didn't have the special something they were looking for," Claire said smiling and getting into the game, clinking glasses with him and sipping.
"Oh, now that could be an interesting thought. Of course, they could be on their way to another bar to find Mr. Right."
"I think you mean Mr. Right Now," Claire said dissolving into giggles.
"Probably closer to the truth," Michael agreed, touching her shoulder casually.
"And what about you," she asked, looking at him. "How much have you spent?"
"A gentleman never kisses and tells."
"But you haven't kissed me."
Michael leaned towards her, willing to kiss her cheek if she was opposed to being kissed on the lips, but before he could change direction, Claire closed the distance and kissed him. It was hardly a chaste kiss, it was not something that two impassioned lovers would share either, but it certainly had potential. Michael had forgotten about the rest of the group until the wolf whistles and the applause started.
"Way to go Claire ... That looked hot ... Is he any good..."
Michael pulled back a little and blushed as much as Claire was; his loopy grin matched hers as he dropped his eyes and thanked the crowd while taking a sip of wine to hide his embarrassment. Claire had dropped her head, causing her long hair to fall forward and hide her face from the rest of them.
"Sorry about that," he whispered at her and she shook her head and lifted it, pushing her hair back as she did so in a natural motion.
"Don't be. I liked it." Her smile was reflected in her eyes.
"Can I offer you dinner?"
"I would like that, yes." The rest of the crowded bar seemed to disappear during this conversation before the noise crashed back around them.
.... There is more of this story ...