She came at me through a smog of cigarette smoke, her hair a sea of pooling ebony, back to the door, sitting cross-legged on a bar stool. Her red dress, crimson like blood, had risen up to expose one virginal white garter — it hinted a subtle lie. She sipped on a bourbon empress of all, the eyes of the whole lousy bar upon her, both sexes, and a few I was unsure of. Decisions, decisions, I pondered, as my heart skipped a beat and lips grew dry.
The old man had one of those weathered faces contoured from a life hard fought and often lost. I caught him out of the corner of my eye sat to one side, unassuming like a garden gnome that had always happened to be there. We locked eyes for a moment, nothing more, but long enough for me to see his pinky finger waggle a warning: don’t do it, son, you’ll end up like me. I turned tail and ran.
He saved me from that liquor-downing siren. He granted me a freedom he’d never attained. And for an instant, I even felt sorry for him as I inhaled a deep breath of backstreet air, but not for long.