I was never really up for going out. I’m more of a…stay at home with a pizza and scary movie type guy. However, I’ve been feeling so lonely lately. Specifically in the relationship category.
See, I’ve never had very good luck with the “dating scene”. Most people now a days want to use dating apps anyway. I don’t own much more than a hand me down laptop and an old flip phone in the electronics department, so I guess you can call me an old school type of person.
My mom is always asking me when I’m going to get married and start a family, as I am 32 years old, and she seems to feel that I will never find happiness unless I’m shacked up behind a white picket fence with 2 shaggy dogs and a baby on my wife’s hip.
I decided it was time to venture out, since my co-worker Sam called and practically begged me to come to the bar with him and a couple of his close friends tonight. I got a shower, brushed my teeth and put on some year old cologne that hasn’t left the medicine cabinet since I got it for Christmas. I was trying not to overthink my clothes, since I wasn’t really out looking to impress anyone. I chose a blue button down shirt and grey jeans. “Cuffed?” I said to myself as I rolled up one of my pant legs. “Nah…that looks weird.” I grabbed my keys, headed out the door, locking it behind and stepping out to the driveway where my 2018 Chevy Aveo sat. “Hey there old girl” I whispered to the car while tapping her on her cold, grey hood.
When I pulled into the gravel driveway of the bar, I noticed it had begun to rain a bit, so I reached into the back of my vehicle to grab an umbrella. I quickly realized I must have left it at work last week when it rained early in the morning, but ended up being a beautiful day by the time my dragging shift was over. “Just my luck” I muffled as I squinted my eyes looking at the tiny droplets rolling down my windshield. I took a deep breath, quickly stepped out of my car, and did a small jog up to the door of Motleys, the smallest bar in Richland.
Stepping inside I shook off the bit of water on myself and peered around the room, hoping that I would see Sam and his friends. “Huh, that’s strange”. They weren’t there. In fact, aside from the scraggly old man behind the bar serving drinks to a man who had clearly been through some sort of rough patch, and decided to come costume the pain away, there was only one other person. A woman.
She was beautiful, long blonde hair, fair complexion and by the looks of it, seemed to be a fairly decent pool player. Standing in the corner of the room under low lights, she chalked up her pool stick and set herself up for a new game. I was almost mesmerized by her body language. I must admit, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a woman that was really my type, and not met her under business circumstances.
**RING TING RING** …I nearly jumped out of my skin. I fumbled my phone out of my semi wet pocket from the rain, and looked at the small screen. “Sam 689-719-0163”. I answered with a bit of annoyance in my voice. After all, like I said. I am not the guy that liked to go out and here I am by myself.
“Yeah?” I said.
“Hey! I’m sorry I didn’t call earlier. I got held up at the office and-“.
“And your not going to make it, right?”
“I’ll catch up with you next time, buddy! Sorry!”
I hung up without saying a word. Sighing, I flipped my phone closed and shoved it back in my pocket. “Trouble with your friends, eh?” I hear a soft voice behind me. I giggled while petting the back of my head and turning around “yeh…they aren’t coming I guess.” “Well, why don’t you grab a drink and come play a round with me?” She said as she grabbed another stick and chalked it up. “Oh no, I’m good” I said. I could feel my mind start to race and my face start to flush. “Ohhhh come on, I insist! I’m Clara.” She smiled at me. She had a beautiful smile. Her teeth were perfect, and her face was oddly symmetrical. Oddly….
She walked around the table slowly. The balls were already set up like a perfect triangle, pointing directly at her. “You shoot first!” She said enthusiastically with that big smile of hers. “Alright, but I’ll have to warn you. I’m really no good at this game-“ “Ahh don’t you worry. It’s all for fun, right?” She said. “Right…” I said as I cocked my head to the side and shrugged my shoulders.
After a game that turned up much better than I imagined, and much talking about our work, random questions getting to know one another and a brief chat of why I was extremely annoyed at Sam for once again inviting me out and ditching me, she questioned whether I wanted to play another round. I said eagerly “sure!”. I must admit I was enjoying the company and conversation. Most women, or should I say “girls” now a days only want to either get right into physical stuff..or simply can’t hold a conversation that isn’t about reality TV drama or social media likes.
“How about we make it a bit more interesting this time…?” She had this look on her face that I couldn’t quite decipher. “Tell me what you have in mind and then I will say yes or no”
The room was quiet. The old CD jukebox had just stopped playing “We’ve only just begun” by The Carpenters in a dull and warped tone that was slightly unsettling. As she placed both hands on the edge of the pool table, I walked toward her with a curious look on my face. Waiting for her wager. The room seemed to get just a bit darker and I could hear the now heavy rain *spackle spackle* on the tin like roof of the bar. “If I win, I want you” she said in a low tone. Her head hung just enough that her long, clearly fresh washed blonde hair was dropping to the sides of her cheeks…but her smile. It grew a small bit larger than before. She glanced up at me, as if waiting for an answer.
“Er…uhm..” I stammered. No woman had ever said that to me before. I honestly wasn’t sure what to say. “Well?” She grew impatient while tapping her well manicured fingernails on the wood panel table side. “What do you say?”. I assumed this meant we would be going back to my place. I hoped she wouldn’t mind the smell of microwaved Chinese food and noisy neighbors. That’s pretty much all my townhouse consisted of besides a few pieces of old furniture, and my king size bed.
“And if I win?” I said confidently. I felt as though I was ready for whatever was about to happen. She was a mature, beautiful woman who had held up good conversation and had an open mind. “We’ll just see about that!” She winked at me while still grinning. It’s almost as if…she never stopped smiling at me.
We begin the game. At first, it was a normal playful banter between us, but as the night went on, I noticed her demeanor change in an eerie way. Every time I made a shot she grew almost angry…and every time she made a shot, she seemed relieved and even more excited than one should be over a game. Thinking it would lighten the mood, since I had made 3 shots in a row, I started to ask “can I buy you a dri-“
“NO!…uhh no thank you!“ she interrupted at first, and then smiled again at me as she finished her denial.
We were getting down to the wire and my palms grew clammy. She was winning at this point, and all I could think of was that I was probably just going to be a let down to this gorgeous woman if she wins. Just a few moments later, she hit the 8 ball in. “Well, well, well” she said with a low chuckle. “Looks like I won, and it’s time for you to hold up your end of the bet”. Her smile looked dry. She looked…tired. Restless. She grabbed her jacket, tossed it over her shoulder casually. “I- are you sure you want to do this?” I asked her. Still smiling and looking satisfied with her win, she said promptly “absolutely…I need to”.
With a small nod to each other, I grabbed my keys out of my pocket and began escorting her towards to door and outside. It was still raining, but it wasn’t cold. It was muggy enough that the air was almost palpable.
I opened the passenger door for her. Realizing that almost all my cup holders were full of empty take out drinks, I embarrassingly said under my breath “sorry about my car”. (Im a skinny man that can really put away my food, and I work a lot, So I eat out more than I eat at home.)
She didn’t answer. She seemed eager. Like she didn’t care about anything I was saying.
I ran around the front of the car and got in.
I immediately noticed something was…off. She was looking at me…with eyes as big as I’ve ever seen. Smiling as usual…but this time was different. Her mouth was wide and there was a gap between her top and bottom teeth. I swear…the corners of her mouth were almost reaching her ears.
“Are you ready? She asked me quietly. Almost whispering. The rain was still falling, but for some reason all I could hear… was Clara.
“Uhh yeah, yeah I’m ready.” I said with much trepidation. I thought to myself: (is this a mistake? I don’t even know this woman…and she’s starting to creep me out). I began pressing my key into the ignition and she told me to stop. I set my keys back on my lap looking over toward her. Looking around her wide eyes, and bigger than ever smile, I noticed the windows around her were all foggy. As if she was burning up with a fever and the car was freezing. She was radiating an unnatural heat. My eyes came back into focus. That’s when I realized…she was drooling. Her hair looked a bit less kept now…more stringy and scraggly. She was breathing heavily. “Do you need water?” I asked in a concerned tone. Only her mouth moved. In a guttural tone she wined… “I need you, Jacob”.
“I – never told you my name” I shuttered.
At this point I felt nothing but sheer panic. Her eyes started looking me up and down slowly and her drool began to turn a reddish brown. Like old blood. She was still giving off an incredible heat that was starting to move into the rest of the car. I felt trapped. I couldn’t move I was so terrified. I looked down at her once manicured nails in the bar to notice claw like fingers that had no actual nails on them. They were just..sharp skin needles. They were tapping on her legs.
“I must have you” she mouthed. Her arms were locked stretched out and stiff and her head had become hunched over. It’s almost like her neck was reaching for my flesh.
I heard a rapid BANG BANG BANG on my car window and I screamed louder than I have ever before and flung my car door open. “What are you kids doing in here?!” It was the old man bar tender. He must have been making sure he wasn’t having any funny business in his parking lot since the whole car was fogged up from Clara’s body heat. “Oh…sorry I didn’t realize you were alone! Have a good night!” I rapidly swung my head around, confused at why he wasn’t running away at the sight of this monster sitting next to me.
She was gone. It was just me and my no longer transparent windows. That is the only evidence of her there was other than a small drop of her spit on my gear shifter. Believe me…I checked. I wasn’t leaving until I knew that this woman…this thing… wasn’t with me anymore. I took an old rag out of the back seat and wiped off the windows. Turned on my car and drove back home.
I still think she’s coming for me. For my end of the deal. I see her smile in the moon. I see her silhouette it in shadows and highlights as the lamp in my room casts onto my empty walls in the late nights. I will never go to that bar again. I never want to leave my house again. But believe me…I don’t think these walls are stopping Clara from finding me again.
Credit: Cori Alexandra Trumbull
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