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Bun

Bun

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PostSubject: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:42 pm

Saturday nights. Busy, busy nights.

For most bars, but no one was foolish enough to consider The Dead End to be an ordinary bar. The thin crowd that sometimes formed was comprised of two types of people - adults, more dubious than Ross himself, and the occasional teenagers that caught wind of the cheap drinks available. Ross didn't like either in particular, but he couldn't be picky about his patrons when business wasn't going exactly stellar. At least the adults had interesting stories to share, to make him feel better about himself.

Tonight was slower.

Under the counter, the bartender polished his revolver with slow, deliberate wipes of a handkerchief, before tucking the fabric into the pocket of his cheap, black shirt, and placing the firearm in a small cupboard. Two men, sipping from the drinks and staring blankly at the small television mounted on the wall, remained inside with him, but they didn't seem adepts of conversation. It was late. Ross wanted them out, but they were taking their time. He didn't like to have an audience when he was drinking his fill. Sound blared out of the television, but only the sound of static reached his ears, and, for a moment, he didn't even question it, but when he made an effort to focus his mind to the tiny screen, he noticed the static was not just in his mind. The two men grumbled, draining the rest of their drinks, and, supporting each other, made their way out, staring at him as if it was his damn fault it stopped working.

Not bothering, he simply switched it off.

Being in a bar alone was a strange feeling. Ross felt like a ghost, hovering weightlessly towards the tables that he hadn't bothered to clean since a couple of hours ago. The entire room smelled like cheap booze and tobacco, smell that had attached itself to the man some time ago and refused to let go, possibly even before he opened up the bar.

But he liked the loneliness. Clinck, clinck. The bell above the door reminded him, spitefully cheerful, that the loneliness was gone. The bartender cast a shallow glance over his shoulder. “We're closed.” he barked over his shoulder at the familiar woman, even though the sign at the entrance suggested they would be open for another hour, at least.


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Fudoolie

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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:10 pm

"Va te faire foutre, connard," Clarisse replied, flipping the bird as she walked confidently across the grimy wood floor in her tall, strappy black heels. Her tight, short, black cocktail dress left little to the imagination as she bent slightly at the waist to position her stool where she wanted it. She took her place in the middle of the bar so she would be within spitting distance of anyone who might come in and choose a stool, as well as the bartender himself. "Has this place gotten shittier since the last time I was here?" She asked casually, referring to her two-day absence. She flicked her head to toss her curled blonde locks over her left shoulder, then snuck a glance at Ross' expression with her dark brown eyes. She was chewing a piece of gum, and with a defiant glint in her eye, and without breaking eye contact, she stuck her thumb and forefinger into her mouth and pulled the gum out, then pressed it under the ledge of the bar's countertop.


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Bun

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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:35 pm

With considerably less proper pronunciation, and more of an American accent, Ross shot back her phrase, rolling his eyes as he gathered glasses and wiped his hands over tables, as if to brush off invisible crumbs. Finally, when both of his hands were carrying enough stacked, empty glasses that his wrists hurt, he turned over to the woman, scrutinizing her with his glare, and crossed over back to the bar. "I'm sure it's like looking into a mirror for you." he shot back, movement stuttering when he noticed the horrid way she vandalized his bar, but keeping his look of utmost calm. "Clean that. Now." the man ordered, in an unexpectedly stern tone, before continuing and getting behind the counter, arranging the glasses upside down in a line next to the sink, facing Clarisse and still staring quite intently to see her fulfil his request. His own, odd but orderly way of doing things.

If anything, he shouldn't be surprised that she showed up here, and he should, in fact, start boarding up the door and windows to make sure she does find a way to seep in through the cracks. She didn't come here to drink quietly and brood, she came here to piss him off. And usually it worked. He needed a drink.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:08 pm

"Ooh, your French is improving," Clarisse said patronizingly, flashing Ross a sarcastically sweet smile. Her brown eyes were full of the kind of dangerous energy usually only found in a Jägerbomb, and they followed him intensely as he walked behind the bar. "Wow, somebody's cranky tonight," Clarisse replied to his demand, tapping her manicured nails on the bar. "Fine, but if I'm going to do your job for you, you'd better make me a drink. You know what I like." She scraped the gum off and started walking toward the bathroom to throw it away, her heels clacking across the wood and her hips swaying with attitude. Just before she pushed through the door, she tossed one more snide remark over her shoulder: "I don't mind too much, though; it's pretty hot when you boss me around."

She was in and out in a flash, making her way back to her stool. "So how've you been these last couple days? Get into any fights recently?" She asked, once again alluding to her absence. Two days was nothing for a normal patron, but she was there every night. Now she was challenging him, asking but not asking, Didn't you miss me?


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Bun

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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:15 am

"I'm not cranky, I'm making sure you don't turn this place into a dirty shithole." he snapped back, just as stern as before, only relaxing when she had finally scraped the gum off and left to throw it out. As if this day hadn't already been filled with him dealing with idiots who thought that just because this place was in the slums, it had to look the part. He didn't even pay her second remark any mind - he was too tired to deal with her shallow flirting, and instead reached out under the bar, kicking open a sliding cabinet that whined in protest, and pulled out a bottle of rum. Probably the most expensive he owned, saved for when the days really got to him. More than usual.

Ross slid her a freshly cleaned glass across the bar after he was done rinsing it, half-filled with the golden liquid. "Make do." he shrugged, and drank a bit straight from the bottle, the taste and smell making him weary for a second, setting the bottle down firmly. "I don't get into fights. On purpose." the bartender answered without looking. "Fine, I chased some guy out of the bar because he was pissing me off."

"You?"


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:27 am

Clarisse's smile fell and she eyed him warily as he handed her a glass of rum. She pursed her lips in annoyance but didn't say anything. "Fine," she answered back, deciding she didn't want to talk about it, after all. Not with Grumpus here, anyway. She set her hand on the rim of the glass, then traced her index finger over it. Finally she lifted it to her lips and grimaced as she took a sip. Boy did she hate rum. What was his problem tonight? Sure, he was a jerk, and he always had that dark, brooding energy about him, but this was over-the-top. Still, she doubted either one of them was drunk enough to talk about it, so she settled on continuing to annoy him, albeit with less ferocity. "What'd he do, come in and order a drink? What does he think this is?" She smirked, staring at her glass as she took another painful sip.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:47 am

He had no energy left to prod deeper and demand an answer - and, even though he refused to say it, he had noticed her sudden absence, which had both unnerved and relieved him at the same time. But they both had their own things to handle, and he understood that as much as he understood anything else around him lately. Hazily, but clearly enogh.

It was almost amusing to see her grimace from the rum, and he caught her eye smugly, with a quirk of his eyebrows, before he looked back down, at the row of dirty glasses. They all carried the similar, strong smell of cheap alcohol. The water was cold against his hands as he started washing them one by one, passing them from one side of the sink to the other with surprising agility. "He came in and wanted a friend." Ross replied, raising his voice to drown out the sound of water hitting glass and spraying drops on his shirt. "And you know I'm not a friendly guy... Friendly guys, for example, give drinks for free." he added pointedly, after a short pause.



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Fudoolie

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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:12 pm

"And customers drink what they like," Clarisse snapped, grimacing again as she took another sip. Nevertheless, she reached into the top of her dress and pulled a warm twenty-dollar bill from the bulge, then slapped it onto the bar and slid it towards him. Maybe when he was feeling a bit friendlier, he'd pour her a Paloma and grant her a discount, but it was obvious that tonight wasn't the night to argue with him. If she didn't push her luck with him this time, maybe the odds would be more in her favor the next time she came through his door. She hoped so.

"Are you going to get some live music in here sometime?" She asked, turning on the stool to look out into the empty bar. "I'm sure there are some starving musicians out there who would play for the publicity, right? Hell, I'd sing for tips. Or booze." She turned back to him and winked. By then, his hands were soaked and his shirt was sprinkled with water. "You want some help with those dishes?"


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Bun

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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:06 am

For a moment, he simply stared at the payment, half because he was getting too tired to process events correctly, and half because he was slightly surprised she paid so willingly. But he took it nonetheless, tucking it in the pocket of his pants and nodding his approval. The "thank you" he was about to mutter got stuck somewhere in his throat, and he kept washing the glasses in silence. His head shot up at the mention of music, almost too excitedly, before the excitement was taken over by a sombre sort of uncaring.

"Could. I don't know." he shrugged, putting a cleaned glass on the side of the sink and using his free hand to take another sip of the rum, feeling the pleasant, burning sensation in his mouth wash over him entirely. "And now that-" Ross pointed vaguely in Clarisse's direction, still clutching the bottle. "That wouldn't be such a bad idea - can you even sing? I mean, I bet they'll just pay to see you, but I'd really hate to have somebody who can't sing, singing in my bar." he replied. His firts gigs had been in bars like this one - perhaps young singers, trying to earn a living, would remind him too much of the past. He didn't want to think about, but he was already thinking too much about it.

"I can handle it." he waved off her offer, reminded to put the bottle down and resume his task.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:59 pm

Clarisse rolled her eyes. "Yes, I can sing," she said with annoyance, as if he should have known it just by looking at her. "And I would, too, if I could get some damn tequila." It was in jest, now; she had come to terms with the rum and sipped at it resignedly. "The real question is, do you sing? Now, that would be a sight. The singing bartender. I bet you do, too. I bet that's why you get so angry when I come in–I interrupt your singing!" She laughed playfully, now, the rum having loosened her up enough to forget she was mad at him for having such a bad attitude with her. She looked around the bar again. "I could sing over there," she said, gesturing vaguely towards the darker side of the bar. "Or how about right here on the bar? Now that would be fun!"


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:42 am

An all too fake snort escaped him when she mentioned the idea of him singing, and this time he did altogether put off the rest of his work, shutting the sink decisively, to stare at Clarisse. “I get annoyed when you come in here because you, in fact, are very annoying to deal with, Clarie.” he replied sternly. Calling people by their name was not something he did often, and he did not do it when he was pleased. Calling people by a nickname was an even bigger leap. Nothing painted itself across his cold face, except perhaps a hint of smugness.

“But you? Whatever. Sing what you like, where you like. As long as it's good.” Ross continued, this time simply shrugging, leaning away from the bar that he had promptly anchored himself onto to tell the woman off beforehand. He didn't like being up in people's faces, especially after he wasn't angry enough to care anymore. "Don't get on the bar - you'll leave marks."


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:08 pm

"Oh, you just hate people," she jested, meeting his gaze. Her cheeks flushed at his undivided attention, and she looked down at her drink, letting her hair fall to partially cover them. At his warning, she looked up again, exasperated. "You're so protective of your little hole in the wall. Fine, I won't scratch your precious countertop." She slipped from the stool, taking her glass of rum with her, and glided towards the darker portion she had gestured to, before. As she went, she sang a sad song, first quietly, then gaining in volume so Ross could hear her clearly. Her voice was deep and feminine, touched by the influence of jazz music and her mild French accent.

"Night winds, cold and melancholy,
Wave a blue finale
For my tragedy.
Life a misery,
Meant only for me,
While I linger, weary,
'Neath a willow tree.

Right here our romance was started,
Here again we parted
When I set you free.
All my thoughts are jumbled,
Everything is blurred,
All the world has crumbled,
Shattered by word.

My end has come,
My heart is numb,
'Twas like a bolt from the blue above.
I can't believe it but you're gone, darling,
And here lies love."


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:13 am

To be perfectly fair, she could sing - frankly, he could see her working in here, as much as it annoyed him to have to deal with her not every night, but every full day. Unless his thin crowd of customers would be more interested in the endless droning of the TV than in her. He carefully took another sip of rum from his bottle, keeping his eyes trained on her. "And here lies love." he echoed absently when he put the bottle down, beckoning her to return to the bar with a wave of his hand. "Fine, you've showed off enough." Ross replied, no hint of being impressed in his tone.

"Why would you even be so eager to work here?" he tried to divert the conversation away, arching his eyebrow.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:13 am

Clarisse came strutting back, her eyes sparkling the way they always did when she had been given the opportunity to sing for an audience. She took her stool again, but chortled at the phrase work here. She could show up at this bar every night around the same time, but if someone started counting on her to be here? Ha! Count her out. She wasn't about that time-clock life. "Work here?" She asked, incredulous. "I'll sing for you from dusk 'til dawn for booze and tips, but there's no way in hell I'm working for you." Her expression had slipped easily into that playful defiance, though it could be argued that there wasn't much difference between her promise of "singing from dusk 'til dawn" and working there. Except, in her mind, there was one major difference: he didn't pay her, so he wasn't her boss. He couldn't tell her how to dress, how to sing, when exactly to come and go, or how to behave. Sure, he could repremand her as her bartender, the way he had been, but he wasn't her boss. And, to Clarisse, that made all the difference. After all, the girl hadn't been on anybody's payroll before, and she wasn't about to start now.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:09 am

A hint of amusement on his cold face, Ross shook his head in resignation. She was such a pain to deal with more than half of the time - and she never made up her mind. Well, at least she wasn't a middle-aged, moping man, drinking himself to death in the corner of his bar. It was more interesting like this. He rubbed his palms against each other, giving a vacant look-over to the glasses he had yet to finish washing. Whatever - he was too tired to deal with that. "Then, what makes you think I'll let some random woman come in my bar and sing? That'd be distasteful." he said over his shoulder, walking from behind the bar and carrying in one hand his most beloved both of rum.

"Bar's closing this time - for real." the bartender pointed towards the door. He was eager to go home - home was a car, but it was home. Maybe he'd go for a joy-ride, his tipsy brain suggested.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:10 pm

Clarisse pursed her lips and glared at Ross, but there was humor in her expression. "I'm no random woman!" She said defensively, putting one hand on her hip. "You'd just be... outsourcing your talent. And come on, admit it. I'm pretty good. It's not like karaoke night, with a bunch of random people who can't sing driving paying customers out of your bar. Besides, you said it yourself, they'd pay to see me. Come on, just try it out once or twice, when there are actual people in here. Just get a mic and a stand and let me sing a couple songs. If they don't like it, or if they aren't buying as much booze, tell me to get lost." She grinned in an expression that said, as if that would work before continuing. "I really don't think there's anything to lose, though. Plus, if I'm not your employee, then you're not responsible for my well-being. See? Everybody wins."

When he gestured towards the door, Clarisse hesitated. She looked down at the glasses left to clean. "You want me to wash those for you? I wouldn't mind." She was stalling, and she knew he would know. It was just that no one else had come in, so she had nowhere to go. Normally, she went home with the middle-aged moping man who was drinking himself to death in the corner, or the guy who was too friendly with everyone, or whoever would let her. They gave her a place to sleep, usually something to eat in the morning, and, if she was lucky, a little bit of money. With no other customers in the bar, she was out of luck until morning. She wasn't sure where she would go, but the longer she could stall in here, the less time she would have to spend wandering around in the cold.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Today at 2:10 pm

There was no point in interjecting, in saying that perhaps, even though she was not his employee, he could still be worried about her, and that there was definitely somewhere better somebody like her could end up at. The bartender rolled his eyes, instead, wrapping a weathered leather jacket around his shoulders. It was growing increasingly dark inside - he couldn't afford to keep the electricity running all night. Mainly why he never liked sleeping in here, as idiotic as it was for someone his age, and especially with his gift, to be unnerved by the dark.

"I'm not letting you in here unsupervised." Ross cut her off sternly. A principle of his, to never let people unsupervised with his most important possessions. His footsteps echoed bluntly across the room. "I can wash them in the morning - I don't need you doing my work for me." he continued. Part of him wanted to ask why, why was she so interested in helping here, but he didn't ask. A second time, though with much less concentration in his movements, he flicked his hand towards the door, almost shooing her.


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PostSubject: Re: welcome to the a.a. [c]   Today at 2:34 pm

A pained expression crossed Clarisse's face, though she tried to hide it. She knew she couldn't stall any longer, and her hesitation wasn't doing her any favors. At this point, any other attempt to keep the bar open for just a few minutes longer would result in her forcible removal from the establishment, as well as a possible banishment, depending on exactly how unfriendly he was feeling tonight. Based on his behavior thus far, the banishment was certainly on the table. She pulled herself up off the stool, muttering under her breath, "T'es rien qu'un petit connard." Not one to admit the pickle she was in, her walk from the stool to the door was slow but haughty. She was a lot of things, but she wasn't one to grovel for assistance. She was sure there was someone nearby that she had met before, some door she could knock on with a realistic expectation of being invited inside. She just had to recall where a couple of her former encounters lived, and whether they had wives at home. She was still working on this puzzle when she made it to the door. She turned her head only slightly, not fully looking at him as she called out sarcastically, "Bonne soirée."


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