honorary Hose Monster:
Nohr sat back and watched the smoke from the ash of his cigarette, which by this time had gotten quite long, slowly swirl up and join the hazy blue cloud that usually collected near the ceiling of this place at evening when more people came around.
He had quit smoking a number of months ago after a girl who he had seen casually a few times told him that she had never slept with a smoker and never would, but in the meantime she enjoyed his company, meaning that she enjoyed letting Nohr take her out and pay for everything. Out of spite, Nohr quit smoking cold turkey, and three days later she took him into her bed. He left the next morning and never called her again.
The group that had previously sat on the deep couch tucked into the back corner of the bar had left a pack of Marlboro Lights on the table with a single cigarette left in the box. Not his brand, he mused, remembering that he had faithfully smoked Lucky Strikes for ten years. But for some reason, he slipped the lone cigarette in between his lips, and with the easy motions of a practiced smoker, struck a match and lit up. He took but two draws on the Marlboro before placing it in the ashtray, where it had sat for the last seven or eight minutes and slowly burned its way into an inch-long ash that added to the hazy cloud over his head.
He dropped the weight of his frame back into the cushions of the old sofa but still failed in his attempt to relax back the shoulders that perpetually slouched over his collarbones. He held the business card he earlier retrieved from a table across the room at opposing corners between the thumb and index finger of his left hand as he slowly spun the card on a lopsided axis with his right hand. Sunshine on a cloudy day, it said in loopy printed lettering on the back side.
Nohr had progressively spent more time at this particular bar since he had first seen her months ago. That first night he had sat on the same couch, the elbows on his knees supporting the grip of his hands on his temples as he forcefully held his nose over the glass, trying to let the wafting alcohol blur the events of the day in his memory. Bourbon on this night, but the whisky had not calmed the sting of the day past, or the weekend prior, or the week before that. He had dropped a ten on the table and was standing to go home, wondering if he would even make it out of bed the next morning.
And then she walked to the back of the bar.
The low lights diffused by the blue smoke cloud could not prevent the subtle flash of her left eye from drawing his eye, which she zealously, if unknowingly, kept for the rest of the evening. The next morning he could not remember what she looked like, only that shimmer in her eye. But it was enough to bring him back to the same bar six consecutive nights, hoping to see it again. And mercifully she came back just as he had almost tapped his credit on Jack Daniels and brought his lungs all the way back to the brink of lung cancer.
In subsequent weeks he had spent entire evenings tossing glances her way, never catching hers. She simply danced her way through his visions with a combination of steps and partners, never there with the same group of people twice. Sometimes other women, sometimes groups of admiring men, usually a mix. He never really noticed her companions.
She never noticed him. But he was hers nonetheless.
Then tonight, she had finally let him in with her card. Nohr was sure she had left the card face down on purpose for him to find. And as soon as she left, he methodically slid across the room under the cover of the darkness of the bar.
He sat there now, ensconced deeply into the sofa and flipping the card around between his fingers, oddly fearful of looking at the front. Suddenly afraid to find out the identity of this girl who had become a multitude of vague fantasies over the last three weeks.
Nohr dropped a vodka sigh and stopped the card’s turning, the sunshine breaking through the clouds away from him.