I think I’ve been watching too much Dexter lately, because this week’s edition is definitely not the usual. This kind of writing is so fun, though. I hope you like it. It’s called, “The Entrance.”
She stuck an extra pencil in her pocket and walked to the door. There were a few cars in the parking lot, but not many. It was still daylight and the rain had just ended. The sun was out the air was humid. There was a paper sign on the door and someone had written in red marker to hold down the buzzer until the door unlocked. Members would be required to show ID cards.
She reached for the next best thing to an Elks membership card and pulled an extra business card from her cargo pocket. She held down the button and a loud buzzer sounded unlocking the door for her. Her pupils retreated and every head in the orange-glow, smoke filled bar turned to look at her, all men. There were TVs with bull riding on above the L-shaped bar, and a karaoke machine with a tiny stage in the right corner. It was a square room and showed no other entrance to the hallway.
Realizing she’d have to ask one of them how to get to the hall, she turned on a college girl smile and laughed to show them she found this equally comical. The man sitting at the near corner of the bar with a shaggy blonde mullet had turned completely in his seat at this point and was curling his index finger at her, beckoning for her. He probably wanted ID, but she didn’t like the idea that he had now assumed control of her already decided momentum toward him.
“What do you need, honey?”
“I’m here to cover the big band club, they’re supposed to be in the hall, could you tell me where that is?”
She didn’t want to directly answer him. She wanted to keep what little interloper control she had. All the eyes were still on her, she could feel it. Especially the guy smoking a cigar next to the man she asked for help. If she didn’t focus, she could tell his head hadn’t pivoted on his neck since she walked over to their side of the bar.
He paused and looked at the man smoking.
“Through that door,” he said and pointed to the far left wall. She didn’t see anything at first and then saw the gold door knob. The door was a smoke stained white, the same color as the walls.
“Why you wanna be with the old people, when I’m out here,” the smoking man said with a greasy grin.
The high school instinct to ignore triggered and she pretended not to hear him. But he continued as she walked toward the door, also ignoring the fact she hadn’t said thank you.
“Don’t forget I’ll be in here,” he said.
She grasped the door knob and twisted it left and pushed. Nothing. She tried to twist it right, but it wouldn’t even go. She pushed with all her nervous energy to get it open. A hand came from behind her and reached for the door knob to cover her hand, but she saw it and quickly moved hers out of contact. It was the first man, and he leaned into the door and pushed it open.
“Thanks,” she said.
He didn’t say anything and walked away. She thought she heard him laugh under his breath as he left.
She stepped into the hall and felt the cool light and linoleum floor, expecting to find dozens of senior citizens equipped with trumpets, saxophones and clarinets. But no one was there.
She reached for her phone. Did she have the wrong day? As she was opening her calendar, the phone buzzed and alerted her to a new email. Before she even opened it, she saw the subject line from the big band leader and saw they had to cancel because his basement had flooded from the rain earlier. He had sent it 30 minutes ago. She blamed it on poor reception and was relieved to be able to leave early. But why hadn’t the man in the bar told her it was canceled?
Pulling for the door knob, it wouldn’t open, but she wasn’t alarmed since she had had such trouble with it before. She put her shoulder into it, trying to avoid a boisterous spill into the bar for more unwanted attention. It wouldn’t budge. She heard a click and thought maybe something gave inside the door mechanism. She went to twist the door knob again but this time it wouldn’t even turn. It was locked. Her skin crawled with goosebumps and her heart started to race. Panicking, she looked for any way out. She ran toward the window, pushed it up and threw her bag out. She wiggled out relatively easily, grabbed her bag and power walked to her car, trying to make as little noise as possible.
It was still daylight and she opened the back door to throw her bag on the back seat. She unlatched the driver’s seat door and saw the cigar smoker sitting in her passenger seat, still holding his cigar.
“I told you don’t forget about me,” he said with a drowsy twang.
She froze. He tried to straighten himself in the seat and couldn’t. She realized he was completely drunk. He couldn’t even sit up straight. Before she knew what she was doing, she punched him square in the jaw and his head rolled back into the window. He curled up in pain. Racing around to the passenger side, she opened the door and grabbed a fist full of his collar and dragged him into the gravel. She slid into the car through the passenger side, slammed the door and locked it. Threw the keys into the ignition and felt the gravel spin under her tires.
She thought she might have run over his foot as she left. She looked through the rearview mirror and saw him crawling back to the bar entrance.