Live: scene from a bar

He sits confidently, ensuring his body language says “you”.
He talks steadily; she doesn’t say much.
She gives a pleasant response to his diatribe
and I can hear the flex and smile in her voice–
she doesn’t hide it as well as he does.

He is practiced.

In the midst of a story he makes a comment,
and ensures that she hears its relevance,
that indicates he CAN be a sensitive man.
I wonder if this is a first date
and I want so badly to look over to see his facial expressions.
Her back is to me,
and I only have the tone of her voice to guide me to conclusions.
Only the muscles that tense,
animating the vocal chords that intonate.
Now he lets her talk.

He asks questions.
He laughs heartily at her quips.
He responds with appropriate incredulity at her statements.

The alcohol is increasing;
both of them lightening on the mixers.
“Cheers”.
She is getting comfortable, and he encourages her.
He is jovial.
He is supportive.
He identifies.
Oh!…the falsified articulation!

The more I notice, the more I am overwrought.
The more I hear the vibrations of his vocal chords,
the more I cringe.
From here
his physical,
mental,
and (pseudological) emotional state
has become an effort to lure this woman to a destination:
mental, physical, emotional.
To manipulate.
An anglerfish with a tempting bait in the dark.

I know the tone so well,
and know the feeling of being pliable to a man’s words.
To softening under his touch.

And as I sit here,
I consider my presence–
my red lipstick,
my feigned disinterest in their conversation–
and I type notes on their interaction.
But I know what it’s like to be the huntress.
To have that cozy look that says,
“safe”.
It’s why I spot it so well…

They are closing their tabs.
He pays for her drinks.
They leave.

It’s been forty-three minutes.

—————————————————–

Trifecta Week 111 Writing Challenge: “manipulate”.
Word count: 321

I went to the bar tonight (because what better place to write than a near-empty jazz bar) with the intent of drinking my ex’s favorite expensive scotch and writing a piece that I’d been planning in my head all day, only to have this lovely scene play out right next to me. Serendipity.

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