Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday

In this week's excerpt, we rejoin Alexis as she enters the Pink Pony Bar and Grill for the first time. A new character, Sam, is introduced, and Lexi makes the decision to stay in Montgomery as it seems, it is the best place to hide out for awhile.
Alexis walked into the cool darkness of the Pink Pony Bar and Grill, swiveling her head left and right, looking for a bathroom. The walls and windows were all painted over in black or dark purple, and a small stage extended from the back wall with a long catwalk in the center. Three men sitting together seemed to be the only customers in the place. They all stared at her as if dazzled by the sunlight streaming in behind her through the open door. This was not looking much like a bar and grill. A lone bartender stood behind the bar, washing glasses and whistling to himself. He looked up at her as the door closed behind her. Alexis saw a small sign marked "Bathrooms" at the far left of the building, and made a beeline to the alcove under the sign.
"No free bathrooms," the bartender yelled, as Lexi entered the alcove. "With purchase only."
Alexis yelled back at him as she opened the door under the sign with the word 'Mares' she assumed was for women, "I'll be buying lunch as soon as I come out."
The bartender was still washing dishes when Alexis took a seat at the bar. The three customers that were sitting together had left. Now, she sat alone, the only customer in the darkened building. The bartender was still whistling to himself, and Alexis realized, he was wearing earphones. The earphone wires trailed down to an old cassette player attached to the string of his apron. She waved her hand until the bartender looked up from the sink.
"Can I get a menu?" Alexis yelled to him. She could hear the tinny music squeaking from his headphones.
The bartender simply looked up at the wall behind him and pointed at a chalkboard. She looked up at the chalkboard and found only three things written on it by hand: Hotdog, Chicken Fingers, Wings, no prices and no specials listed. After mulling over her choices for less than a minute, she waved at the bartender again. This time the bartender turned off his cassette player.
"I'd like an order of Chicken Fingers ... and a coke, please."
"Chicken fingers, coming up." The bartender said, and walked through a set of double saloon-style doors to the kitchen.
Alexis watched through the small window as the bartender moved back and forth across the opening. She did not hear chopping or frying. Instead, she heard only the beeping of a microwave as the bartender set the timer. She began to wonder if he was ever going to come back to the bar and make her drink. Alexis heard the microwave beep, and a moment later, the bartender emerged through the double doors with a small plate in his hand, three large breaded chicken fillets stacked on top of it.
"Do you have any dipping sauces?" Alexis asked, as the bartender set the plate onto the bartop.
"We got ketchup and barbeque sauce."
Alexis decided to forgo the dipping sauce, as she picked the crumbles off the chicken, and waited for the bartender to bring her drink.
"First time in Montgomery? The bartender asked, as he put her drink in front of her.
"How did you know?" Alexis said, feeling a little self-conscious, looking at her clothes for some obvious sign that said, "not from around here."
The bartender smiled as he watched her look herself over. "We don't get many pretty young ladies in the Pink Pony in the middle of the day."
"Doesn't look like you get much of anybody here during the day," Alexis said.
"Well, it picks up in here at night," the bartender said. "Gets a little busier at night than we can handle right now."
"Do you run the place yourself at night?" Alexis pushed her plate and empty glass away. She wondered how the single bartender could handle any real business. He barely seemed to handle one order.
"With the dancers, the cook, a couple of servers, and bouncers, we can handle just about anything here," the bartender said; as he took her glass, washing it in the small bar sink. "But right now I've got a cook and a server out sick."
"I know how hard that can be," Alexis said. "I worked as a waitress in college."
The bartender stepped back from the sink and looked at her, bringing his wet hand to his face, leaving a white beard of soapsuds over the dark stubble of his goatee. "How'd you like to work here, as a server?"
"What makes you think I'm looking for work." Alexis wondered if the wear of her travels was that obvious. The thought of staying in Montgomery never crossed her mind until that moment. True, she was in a place she was not familiar with, but staying, for just awhile anyway, would make it difficult for Leo, or her own parents, to find her, if they came looking.
The bartender looked at her, waiting for answer. When she did not give one he added, "The job pays cash, if you really do have experience like you said."
Alexis thought about the offer. She had not planned on this, but thought it would provide a great way to hide in plain sight. Not that she was afraid of Leonidas, or her parents, but she wanted to be alone, without someone running behind her, chasing her down, dragging her back to the pack.
"When do I start?"
"How's tonight sound," the bartender said. "I'll just have to do some paperwork first." He pulled an application and a notepad out of a drawer under the register.
The bartender held the application in his hand for a moment, looking at Alexis like he was gauging her reaction or something.
"Look, this is strictly under the table," he said, as he slid the application back into the drawer. "I can't pay you any benefits. The job's temporary ... for now, anyway." He hesitated again, looking at her. Then added, "But, it does pay cash every night, still interested?"
"No paperwork? Cash? Sounds even better"
The bartender picked a pen up off the counter and aimed it at his pad, "I'll need your name."
Alexis was dumbfounded. She suddenly realized she would be giving up anonymity if she gave him her name. She opened her mouth, hoping the right words would come out, but all she managed was, "uh ... my name?"
"Yeah, a name. Is that too much to ask?" The bartender stepped back from the bar and studied her again. "I gotta call you something."
"Paulina. Paulina Grey." It was not a complete lie, she thought. Paulina was her middle name, and she did just arrive on the greyhound bus.
He wrote her name on his pad, and said, "That wasn't so bad, was it? Hard part's over."
"So, what's your name," Alexis said, convincing herself that he bought her partial lie. "What can I call you?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," the bartender said. "Never properly introduced myself. The name's, Sam."
"Sam? The bartender?" Alexis felt her eyebrows pinch together before she could control her reaction. "How fitting."
"I know, but it's the truth," Sam said. "My name is Samuel Green. I'm a bartender. Probably couldn't be more cliché' unless I played piano."
Alexis stared at Sam for a moment, holding her breath until her eyes welled up, and she could stand it no more. She burst out in laughter at Sam's statement, finally understanding how the bus driver must have felt when she realized she was not in Atlanta. Sam was soon laughing right along with her, slapping at the countertop and holding his gut. With tears streaming down her cheeks, and her stomach sore from laughing, she stopped while Sam lifted a finger to signal he had something more to say.
"And, you know what," he said, snickering and snorting as he spoke. "I actually do play the piano."
At this, they both broke out laughing again, and Alexis thought, maybe Montgomery's not such a bad place to be.
Their laughter died down and silence overtook the room. Alexis suddenly realized she had nowhere to stay.
She asked Sam "Is there a hotel nearby, or someplace I can stay for the night?"
"Nearest hotel is about five miles up the road, but there's a truck stop about two blocks from here."
"Is that it?"
"Well." Sam scratched his chin and looked up, as if recalling some fleeting thought. "I know a guy just about two minutes from here on foot, owns a kind of campground. I think he rents out some old trailers."
"That sounds great," Alexis said. How do I get there?"
"Just turn left out the door and look for the sign says 'Forest Lake RV Park and Campground' then look for his office at the front of the lot."
"Thanks," Alexis said, as she turned and headed for the door.
"Ask for Viron at the campground," Sam yelled as she pushed through the front door. "And, your shift starts at six tonight."
Alexis saw the sign for the RV Park almost as soon as she left the parking lot of the Pink Pony, but before she talked to Viron, she needed to call her Grandfather.
Hope you enjoyed this excerpt. Next week I'll be developing a minor character, Dimitri (Lexi's Grandfather) as she calls to ask his advice. As always, comments and critiques are welcome. By the beginning of next year, I'll be introducing the other major character, Joseph, and things will begin to happen at a little faster pace, as trouble is never far behind Joe.

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