I stumbled out of the dirtiest bathroom I had ever set foot in, into the smoke filled atmosphere of what only could be described as a classic Lower East Side dive bar. Not that I'd really know, having grown up in the south. I just assumed after having been dragged to five in one night, and being told so enthusiastically by sweaty guitarists. For some reason they liked dives? It was beyond me. New York was obviously already getting to me because I heard myself say "you've seen one, you've seen 'em all," back to the one in the plaid button down.
Tray's band had played a gig at a bar on Avenue B (seriously? They couldn't of thought of a better name?) about six hours prior and Amelia and I had been trailing behind him and his crazy new fans (in heels!) on the cobblestone streets of New York ever since. I had never seen so much of New York, and I didn't know if I really liked it yet. I had expected the buildings to all be taller and glassier, but Plaid Button-down also informed me that "midtown" was where most of the skyscrapers were, and not down in "LES". I had also expected all the streets to be numbered and organized, like the grid I thought New York was planned around. But again, another surprise, "the grid" only officially started above 14th street and apparently we hadn't even gotten close to it all evening.
I pulled out a tube of Purell from my purse and rubbed my hands, my arms and even my exposed shoulders with it, promising myself a hot bath the second I got back to the hotel. I could feel the grim sticking to me, and I didn't even want to think what kind of potential diseases I had exposed myself to by using the bathroom in the first place. Damn us women and our tiny bladders.
After composing myself in the back hallway I walked out into the dim red light of the bar looking for Amelia. I knew she was enjoying herself. She was a party girl and had loved the nightlife of New Orleans before being forced to leave because of Katrina. I was glad she was getting a kick out of tonight. It was her good spirits and my happiness for Tray and his band that kept the smile plastered on my face. Otherwise I would have grabbed a cab home hours ago.
I finally found her blonde head bobbing up and down in animated conversation with Plaid Button-down at the other end of the bar. Tray was playing 'Rock Band' with his actual rock band and I laughed at parody of the image it created from earlier this evening. As I walked towards both of them, scooting through the dense crowd of late-nighters, I felt a large hard thwack at the back of my head. I went flying forward and into a group of patrons, while liquor and ice flew up into the air along with my feet. After being hit with something rock solid, I was really disconcerted to find that I had landed into something equally as solid. A human. A monster of one. My nose was squished into his granite torso for a moment before two large warm hands wrapped around my arms and pulled me upright. I still felt like I was on the floor since my line of view only came to his chest. I raised my eyes to see who the monster of a man who had caught me was, and after looking, up, up, up... I finally found his eyes.
I was transfixed for a moment, lost in their ice blue before realizing my manners, shaking my head and saying a hurried, "ohmygod, thank you! I'm so sorry for..." but before I could get out the last bit of my extremely eloquent speech the force from the blow fully hit me. My hand reached up to the back of my head instinctually and I cringed at the pain searing through my mind. Mr. Granite Pecks was still holding on to my arms and involuntarily, I leaned my forehead on his chest again. It was warm and despite his hard body, his black cotton shirt was soft. I felt a rumble in his chest as he leaned over to inspect the back of my head with a "hmmm." The vibrations were a soothing sensation for my aching head, but the next sounds that came out of his mouth were more a shock than anything else.
He didn't yell. He didn't have to. You could tell from cool his voice, that dripped with distain, he meant business. In this case, the business of a foreign language, since I couldn't understand a word he said to the barback behind me, responsible for hitting me in the head with an empty keg. I wondered how hard he had swung the damn thing to cause such a blow before hearing the keg in question hit the ground with a loud thud. The barback then stomped past us with a grunt as he left the bar. He had been fired, I heard it come from his head, along with a few choice expletives.
Wait, fired? Did I hear that right? How did Mr. Granite Pecks have the right to fire him? I realized my head was still on his chest, and that I should probably lift it up and ask, since I wasn't getting anything from his mind that wasn't in a foreign language.
So, I looked up, up, up again and when I came to his face I asked slightly dazed, "Did you just fire him?"
"Yes," was all he said. There was a small smug smirk at the corner of his mouth.
I waited for more of an explanation but didn't get any. I didn't know how long we continued to stare at each other, but the noises around the bar had hushed and the awkward silence brought me back to my senses.
"Amelia?" I called out. I wasn't aware of it, but she was already at my side and touched my shoulder hesitantly. I jumped.
"Alright," she said, taking control, "lets get you to the hotel for some sleep. Come on folks, the viewing party is over. Sheww, sheww!" She waved her hands around parting the crowd.
"Thank you sir for catching our girl here, sorry bout the disturbance," she said to Mr. Granite Pecks before ushering me out of his grip and towards the door, with Tray not far behind. I turned my throbbing head back round to try and say "thank you" one more time but the words didn't leave my mouth. I just stared again at his ice blue eyes. They were easy to stay focused on since he towered above the rest of the crowd and his ultra pale features made him almost glow in the dim red light. For some reason, I really didn't want to leave.