Things are rarely what they appear to be, and there is something about February; gloomy, overcast days that get longer but at such a snail's pace as to be barely noticeable. Nerves fray and misunderstanding become commonplace. That’s true even among the intermingled group from The House and Blue Mick. If any of them were mind readers, it might have been more clear. But instead, everyone kept their thoughts zipped inside, tight and hidden.
But there was one for whom the inner turmoil was deafening. It pummelled Elinor as she sat quietly with Lenny, holding tightly onto his hand. The bar was full and the college kids were rowdy, bored with the weather and with their studies. Jay scurried as he mixed drinks, doing his best to keep up. He smiled with relief when Scoey first slid behind the bar to help. But his eyebrows drew together and his lips tightened as the hours passed. He was confused, that much was clear, but it wasn’t until Scoey casually ran his hand down Jay’s arm that she understood why he was increasing uncomfortable and distracted.
She focused on Scoey. Ah, it was Crissy. He did it every time she was at the bar and when she was between songs and had a moment to look up and watch the two. The more she watched, the more he would bend down and whisper in Jay’s ear or rest his hand on his shoulder. Scoey was completely unaware of the odd looks his co-worker was sneaking his way. He winked and nodded his head towards the stage and Jay’s eyes widened in comprehension. And possibly disappointment.
“Ass!” Bets whipped out, drawing Elinor’s attention back to their table. Her eyes were lasered on Richard as he leaned against the bar, laughing with a young woman that was standing so close they were almost touching. “If scatterbrained co-eds are what he wants, he’s welcome to them.”
What Bets didn’t see, but it was plain to Elinor, was the man’s unease, the way he was trying to back away but was trapped by customers on the other side of him, waiting for their drinks. He inched away from her with a toothy smile frozen on his face until he finally managed to pull away enough to slide around to help Jay and Scoey. His mouth relaxed and the smile he gave the next customer was genuine.
Mark’s side glance towards Honey was troubled and Elinor caught his low voice as he spoke to Lenny. “She’s been quiet all evening. I shouldn’t ask her to come when Tinkrbel’s playing.” The animosity between the two women went back to their college years and Elinor had to agree. But she also suspected that the reason Honey’s glass was still half full and her hands were folded over her stomach had nothing to do with Elise and more to do with the two Midol she’d swallowed earlier.
Elinor caught Elise watching their table, and her glare narrowed on how close Mark and Honey were sitting. Her bitch-face wasn’t much different from her everyday visage, but there was a subtle tightening around her mouth every time her eyes passed over the blonde. It was a surprise that she could still open her mouth wide enough to bellow out the garbled lyrics. Mark’s night was going to be rocky, once the band was done with their set.
Crissy faltered as she watched the front of the room instead of concentrating on her drum set. Elinor wasn’t a mind reader, but occasionally she got fragments of thoughts, and she choked on her drink when she caught, “God, I’ll bet that lumberjack tops.” And the images she projected of the two men together was so strong that Elinor blushed.
Mick patted her back as she coughed. “Crissy’s screwing up,” he observed out loud. “Bet Elise bites off her head later. Tinkrbel has a good sound, but with Elise’s personality, they’ll never get anywhere.” The comment was so purely true that Elinor caught herself laughing, which came out as little more than a pained bark as she still fought for her breath.
Lenny squeezed her hand and leaned down to whisper in her ear. “Is it one of those nights?”
She shook her head yes and managed to croak out, “They all have busy thoughts tonight. Don’t let go.” His touch always quieted her mind.
Headphones’ chortle got her attention and then a full up belly laugh when she caught Elinor’s eye that would have dislodged her headphones if she hadn’t grabbed them. She suspected the girl had a bit of the gift herself, and when she mouthed ‘Fuckin’ nutters!’ across the table, it was as good as any confirmation.