Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love of the Irish

Jon Paul over at Where sky meets ground invited all his bloggy buddies to write for Drunk at First Sight.

Happy St Paddy's Hope you Enjoy!

Love of the Irish

“Once upon a time
Was giggles and laughter
Once upon a time-
Happily Ever After
Once upon a time-
Happily Ever After!”

The band stopped playing and Deandra looked into the crowd, a pained expression on her face. When she sang again, it was a haunting whisper.
“Once upon a time-
Happily Ever After!”

The band joined her on the last note and the crowd erupted. Deana smiled and curtsied, holding out the sides of the A-line knee length black skirt. She didn’t normally curtsy, but she didn’t normally play McNally’s either.

She took her customary seat at the bar, and signalled the bartender.

“Been a while since you sang here, Deandra.”

“It has, Snoop. You still pour the most perfect pint this side of the Caribbean Sea?”

“Don’t be silly girl. The sun will always rise in the East.”

She laughed as Snoop sauntered off to the tap to pour the Guinness.

What a day! She’d had that silly fight with Tom this morning. He was always so crabby when he was sick. And he was even crabbier because he would miss the celebration. And, as usual, Berkley had been down her neck about the reports for the end of the fiscal year. God, she really hated her job. What she wouldn’t give to shove Berkley’s silly reports up his patootie, and sing every night on the circuit. But the circuit wouldn’t fuel her Mercedes-Benz.

“Ten seconds!” The DJ shouted just as Snoop slid Deandra’s drink down the bar.
Everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing and counted down.

TEN – NINE –EIGHT – SEVEN – SIX – FIVE – FOUR – THREE – TWO – ONE!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Deandra raised her glass and took a gulp. People hugged friends and strangers. The band took the stage again. This time fiddles and banjos replaced acoustic guitars and basses. The projector lit up a screen above them with the words to the Irish Drinking Song. Deandra didn’t even have to look at them.

“They come over here and they take our land,” she shouted. She stood up and signalled Snoop to watch her drink. He nodded and put it on a counter behind the bar.
Deandra made her way to the dance floor. She could not resist a chance to step dance. Sometimes, her friends teased her about the fact that she knew how to “riverdance” as they called it. But she didn’t care. It was fun and she loved it. She whirled around the dance floor, free as a bird. The crowd clung to the walls, watching her swift movements. Even though she wore a controlled smile on her face, she was overflowing with happiness inside. It was her show.

Until she heard footsteps behind her. A cloud of shock passed over her face, but it
was gone as quickly as it had shown up. She hadn’t thought he would show up tonight, but she was not going to let him curb her flow. She whirled around a smirk on her face. Her smirk disappeared as she took in a face she had never before seen.

He was definitely an Irishman. She didn’t know a single redhead on the island. And if the redhead didn’t give him away, the way he perfectly executed the step dance did. His feet moved swiftly, in time with the music, but his head was perfectly still. And his eyes were locked on hers. The way he stared into her, she felt like he could see her soul. She had never felt more vulnerable. It was like she was naked, right there in the middle of the club. She wanted to run, but everyone was watching.

“We puke and we smoke and we drink and die!”

Deandra had never been so glad to hear the end of a song. She curtsied to her partner. He took her hand and they curtsied to their audience. She smiled at him one last time, then turned her back and raced towards the bar.
Damn it, he was following her.

“What’s the craic?” he asked.

“The craic is mighty!” She gave the traditional response to the Irish greeting.

She pointed to the counter and Snoop brought back her stout. Snoop nodded to the stranger.

“If I didn’t know better I’d have thought you were McNally. Noone else tears the floor up like the two of them. “

He walked away without noticing Deandra’s scowl. Just when she’d been feeling better.

“So you do this regularly?” The stranger inclined his head towards the dance floor.

She shook her head.

“But this is Barbados. If I step dance once a year, it’s once more than everyone else here. “

He laughed.

She finished her drink.

“Look -“ she paused.

“Jarlath-” he inserted – “means Western Prince in Gaelic.”

“Jarlath,” she repeated, “I gotta get going.”

“May I walk you to your car?”

“Can I stop you?”

He laughed. “I guess not.”

She stood and signalled to Snoop.

“I’m out. Tell the guys from the band.” She gave him as much of a hug as the bar between them permitted.

“Don’t be a stranger.”

“That’s your boss’ call. Not mine.”

He shook his head. “You know I don’t get involved in-”

“Night, Snoop.” She cut him off before he could get started.

He turned and sauntered over to a customer.

She and Jarlath left the bar and walked to her car. It was on the far end of St Lawrence Gap, near Dover Beach. She never used the employee parking if she could avoid it. The entrance often got blocked in, even though there were traffic police on patrol. Then she’d have to wait until all the clubs on the strip closed down for the crowds to go home.

Jarlath chatted with her as they walked. He confirmed that he was Irish. And he told her that he was on vacation from his job as a paediatrician, but had come to the island to avoid his family. His mother seemed to think that him living on his own was excuse enough for her to turn up all hours of the day with little or no reason.
She told him that she was a Financial Controller. She made good money, but her boss was a prick. She hated her job and wished she could flush it to hell in a handbasket.

They reached the car and the dreaded goodbye.

“When will I see you again?”

“How about never?” she asked calmly, unlocking her door.

“Never? Why not?”

She turned to face him.

“I’m married. “

She turned back to her car. He spun her around to face him. And they were back to staring. His eyes searching her soul, seeing all the way to the cobwebs. He put his hand on her cheek. Her brain told her body to move. Her body ignored it. He leaned towards her, eyes still locked. And then their lips were. His kiss was soft, tentative, as if it was asking a question. He pulled away before she was ready.
“Sand Monarch Hotel - 203.” He disappeared back the way they had come.

Deandra got into her car and shut the door, wishing she could shut the thoughts out as well.

Thirty minutes later, she was home, showered and ready for bed. She crawled in beside her husband.

He stirred. She kissed his forehead.

“Are you feeling any better?”

“A little. I’m hoping to be back out tomorrow.” His voice was grittier than usual.

“Great! You should get your sleep, though.”

“I’ve been asleep all day. Maybe I could use some of your special medicine. Give me a treat for old St Paddy.” He propped himself up above her. He lowered her lips to her mouth.

Jarlath flashed up in her memory. She let him kiss her for a moment, before pulling away.

“Sorry hon. I’m totally exhausted.”

He nodded, and rolled off her.

“Good night, Tom.”

“Good night, Mrs. McNally.

10 comments:

propinquity said...

Very nice! I like your style. And I loved the ending, just a bit unresolved. Very good!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Ooooo, that was a treat to read. Good flow, intrigue, fun and a great twist at the end. Thanks!

Tara said...

I liked this a lot! Great twist, nicely done :)

Scott said...

Very well done.

S

Amy Holder said...

Very nice work! :)

Amalia T. said...

You definitely left me wanting more. I really want to find out if she ends up going to see Jarlath or not!

sarahjayne smythe said...

Nicely unsettling end there. :) Very well done.

Jon Paul said...

The twist at the end was very well set up and worked effectively. I am very curious what comes next.

Nicely put together. Thanks for making this such a great addition to the blogfest!

Claire Dawn said...

Thank you guys!

I think short stories should end in one of two ways: completely resolved with things coming full circle, or with a great twist.

JP, thanks for inviting us to write these stories. I must say your short story, "Love is Blind" was an inspiration as well.

Postman said...

Quite suspenseful...builds a sort of half-sinister, half-seductive image of Jarlath, and the Barbados setting is a nice, exotic touch. Thought this was going any number of places before it wound up at home, in bed, and faithful (well, sorta). Excellent, most excellent, an entertaining and gripping read.