posted Friday, 18 June 2010
The piece of paper had one word on it: Twilight.
It happened in a busy pub while I was standing at the bar trying to make myself be seen by the barman. I generally have trouble getting drinks at bars – it’s as if I am invisible.
Anyway, that evening, I managed finally to catch the barman’s eye with the first few words of my order spoken out loud already a few times: “A pint of Extra Cold Guinness...” and, as this happened, I felt someone touch my hand (the one not holding out the ten pound note pleadingly to the barman), then placing there, as I instinctively took it, a piece of paper. I sensed it was a woman but I did not see her as she vanished into the hubbub behind me.
“...and a glass of Twilight, please, “ I confirmed.
“Ice and lemon?” immediately retorted the barman.
I returned to the table, reserved with a bag and two coats, and placed both drinks in position. I sat down in one of the seats and suddenly took the opportunity to inspect the piece of paper whereby I confirmed a presumption of what was written on it.
“Someone just passed me a piece of paper at the bar,” I told Susan as she returned from the Ladies. She had evidently risked leaving our table and belongings unattended but, in my present mood, I was averse to complaining. In fact, it had not crossed my mind at all. Hindsight was wonderful.
“What’s on it?”
“Nothing. It’s completely blank.”
“What’s this drink? It’s not a Pepsi.”
I scrutinised the wine-glass shaped glass containing a liquid that seemed to give off its own light, a dull glow from amid a dark centre. A centre as dark as my Guinness, if not darker. It was like no drink I had seen before.
“Well, it certainly doesn't seem like a Pepsi,” I agreed, scratching my head. “Try it.”
“You try it,” said Susan.
I picked it up and took a sip. There was no taste at all, indeed no relative temperature to gauge how cold it was. If a drink could be completely bland, this was it. A warm sensation however hit my stomach –
“Hmm, it’s strangely not unpleasant. Try it.” Then I remembered that Susan never drank from glasses that others had used – even me. Me the person she often kissed. “Well, shall I get you a Pepsi?”
She nodded. I visited the bar again and undertook the whole procedure of catching the barman’s eye. This time it was even busier and I felt even more invisible. Less or more invisible seemed a strange way to put it, but my mind must have been slightly off-kilter. That drink - despite its lack of taste - must have carried a kick. One sip and I was anybody’s. Just another outstretched hand, this time with a five pound note in it, pleading for attention – for some acknowledgement that I was there. Tears falling down the cheeks with no salt in them...
I turned to seek re-assurance from Susan. She wasn’t there. Caught short again, no doubt.
I looked down at my hand. The five pound note held out in it was completely blank.
('Twilight' was speed-written at the Clacton writer's group last night and typed out above with slight revisions today)