Odd Girl

Odd Girl by Artemis Smith Read Free Book Online

Book: Odd Girl by Artemis Smith Read Free Book Online
Authors: Artemis Smith
the girl had come out of the Oval a week ago. Beth has wrought a change in me, she thought. Then a man sat at her table and broke in on her thoughts. She turned to him angrily. "I'm sorry, this table is taken."
    "That's all right, baby," he said, "I don't mind." He was drunk and tried to pat her hand. She withdrew it quickly and looked for the bartender. She was at the other end of the bar. Anne felt trapped. She had sat in the corner and there was no way to get up from the table without going past him.
    "What'll you have?" he asked.
    "Nothing," she answered, trying to get up and past him. He pushed her down again and her anger flared.
    "Get your hands off me," she said and hit him.
    "So you want to play rough," he said, grabbing her hands.
    "That's enough, mister," a dark voice said. It was the girl at the end of the bar. She had come over, holding her beer bottle. "Let go of her," she said. Her eyes were hard and her expression strong.
    "What's the idea?" he said, not getting up.
    "Moe," the girl called, not turning. Moe appeared, a heavy-set man over six feet tall. Anne had noticed him sitting at the door.
    "He's annoying a customer," the girl said.
    "Back to the bar," Moe motioned to him.
    "What's the idea?" the man repeated. But Moe motioned again and he got up reluctantly, cursing.
    "Yeah? The same to you, too!" the girl shouted after him.
    "The management is sorry," Moe said in his best manner.
    "Thanks," Anne said. He went back to his post.
    So this was a bouncer. Anne was amused.
    "Can I get you a drink?" the girl said. "I work here."
    "Scotch and coke," Anne said. The girl turned and shouted to the bar, "Hey, Toots—a cola 69!" Toots saluted and poured out a shot of scotch and let it slide down the bar. The girl put it on her tray with the glass of soda that followed and came back to Anne's table. "Straight or in?" she asked.
    "Mixed," Anne said. She poured the shot into the coke and put it on the table. Then she stopped and waited. "Will that be all?"
    Anne nodded. "Guess so. Won't you join me?" she added.
    The girl smiled and said thanks and pulled up a chair across from her. "I'm Skippy. What's your name?"
    "Anne," she said.
    "Gay?"
    "Think so." Anne remembered Jacques' terms and laughed to herself. Why couldn't she have said, "Are you homosexual?"
    Now that Skippy had spoken to her she did not seem so strange. She was even attractive. Again Anne marvelled at herself. An unattractive man did not grow attractive when she spoke to him, only more repulsive, and yet Skippy made her feel at ease.
    "Hey, don't you belong in Paradise?" Skippy said.
    "Is that a compliment or a place?"
    "Both," Skippy laughed. "It's across the park. Only girls allowed in there."
    "Is it in the telephone book?" Anne asked.
    "Yep, Downstairs Paradise. You won't have trouble finding it."
    Skippy sat up and looked at her warmly. "This your first time in a bar?"
    Anne blushed; she had hoped to seem more sophisticated.
    "Tell you what," Skippy said, "if you want to hang around until I get off, I'll go with you."
    "How long will that be?" Anne said.
    "Couple of hours."
    "That would be very nice."
    "Fine." Skippy saluted and rose and went back to the bar with her tray and watched her from the mirror as she spoke to Toots.
    Anne sat back and waited. The juke box was playing wild rock and roll and she listened, watching the people at the bar. She still did not feel comfortable there, as if someone might approach her again at any moment and Moe or Skippy would have to rescue her. Somehow she sensed there was danger in the Oval, from a drunk, or a man with a knife, because the place seemed to attract men who hated women. She was glad Moe was nearby.
    Then Skippy came back and set her tray down on her table and said, "Do you rock?"
    Anne listened to the music. It was a drum rock. It was compelling. "Sometimes," she said, "but I like to lead."
    Skippy laughed. "That's a turn. Okay." She extended her hand and helped Anne slide around the booth. They

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