Christian Short Stories
A Class Act
By Web Ruble
Web writes: "Since retiring from newspaper reporting 14 years ago, I have been organizing and doing the publicity for a community picnic of Grays Harbor,WA exiles living in Oregon. I met a compadre in a certain bar-and-grill to go over publicity once several years ago, and something similar to this story transpired. No.'Tis not a personal tale."
I opened the brown-filmed, smoke-crusted glass door and stepped inside.
I was blinded momentarily. Couldn't see hardly at all.
It was 90 degrees outside. Inside, before my peepers adjusted, it was dark, cool like in an unlit cavern.
I had to tell myself that that's where we sports-loving marginal Christian folk gather in cool respite on otherwise scorching August days. Maybe 'twas a mistake. But after my eyes adjusted, however, it seemed soothing and wise.
I had hoped she would be there in that Montavilla-district watering hole, the Pale Moon.
I had come in to exchange some written and graphic stuff with an old colleague who often made a routine stop at his favorite watering trough. He and I had been working on publicity for a men' golf club since my divorce. However, this time I had arrived early in hopes I could elevate my soulful existence by "devouring" Sherie.
Oh yes, she was attractive. She was there, too. My spirit soared. Of all the barmaids in pagan Portland, Sherie out shown them all, like the sun at my cosmic home in Beulah Land.
Blonde, tight curls, big eyed, curvy, she had a round comely face. She also was well dressed, trim and vivacious. Perky. She handled customers well. She could deflect a surly bar creature. Never cussed . . .even when cussed at.
She did everything with panache and class. Moreover, if necessary, she could give an obnoxious customer the heave-ho, and he might even like it. Or at least he would understand why she had to do it, and depart without grumbling too much.
Oh, she was a joy to be around.
Sherie was the sort of person around whom most people would want to be on their best behavior. She would set the mood: upbeat. Unless you were an insensitive clod, you, too, would want to be upbeat.
So there I was. Smiling -- prepared for a stirring 30-45 minutes.
Now, she had a younger sister, who occasionally worked at the Pale Moon when she had a time off from a not-too-distant Eagles Club. Many of the drooling male denizens at the Pale Moon, whom many of us might classify as Joe Sixpackers, liked this sister, Anna Belle, because she, too, had huge eyes, but was buxomer and flirty.
However, the discerning customer -- I liked to put myself in that category -- would come in "to drink the charms" of Sherie.
I selected a stool between two fellows, ordered a Blitz and muttered to myself something like, "Juss looka dem swirly curls, "or, "Wha' a beautiful face."
"You. too, eh?" said the younger thin man to my left who also was watching Sherie. "I'm like you. I come in just to gaze UPON her." He sighed, "isn't she somethin'?"
"She has a lot of class," I said. "She makes you feel good all over just being around her. She does everything smoothly. She's a natural."
Sherie seldom wore a pants suit. Rather a pair of dynamite legs would peek below a knee-tickling dress. Most fellows saw the gams, I am certain. However, I perhaps saw other attributes that some of them would not. For instance, she had lovely, reasonably muscular feet that tapered softly into squash heels.
On this particular day, her smallish feet enthralled me. "Ahhh," I said. Finally, something escaped my lips like, "ooooh."
The man to my right -- older and huskier than the one on my left - glanced at me and said, "I like her, too. She's my sister."
I started to make all kinds of apologies for ogling and commenting about his sister.
However, "Brody" said he was used to it and was sort of proud of both her and Anna Belle: "Not every barmaid gets the appreciation they get. And they win good tips, too."
The night-shift bar waitress came in at 4:30. Alice would work the tables while Sherie worked the bar. Normally, Alice would come in at 5. This time, however, Alice arrived a few minutes early and was breathless with news:
Gordy, the Pale Moon's manager, was leaving immediately to open his own place down in Hollywood district. He wasn't at the Pale Moon today, and was opening his joint tomorrow. What's more -- he had already hired his crew.
Where in hell did you hear that?" Sherie asked.
"I saw Jim on the street today. He told me."
Sherie was incensed: "What? He never said a word to me. I'm shocked. Gord-o and I have worked together for years!"
She and Alice then held rapid discussion right next to me, and the talk got wild and profane.
Angry and on the verge of tears, Sherie said, "The nerve of that guy. All right, so he's hired his lady. I don't give a damn or quite know why. I've always served him well. At least he could've told me. "
Despondent, Sherie snatched her purse from beneath the bar, extracted a pack of Marlboros, jammed a nail into her mouth, scratched a match on her seat, and turned her head to light the fag.
Her comely face turned ugly. Smoke swirled. Her eyes flared. The cords of her neck stood out. The coloring of her face grew gray. And she began muttering. I could not make out what she said, but it didn't sound good.
Then in breezed Tony, the guy I had arranged to meet. It made for a handy escape from the bar-side awkwardness.
I caught his arm and took him to a nearby table. We looked at pix and artwork for the golf club newsletter. Alice served my coffee and Tony's whiskey. I showed him the newsletter text I had written. All looked tickety boo. We finished our business in almost record time. He had to go. I bid him farewell and glanced at the bar.
Then I surveyed the entire room. Sherie wasn't anywhere to be seen. Instead there was an older gal I'd never seen before behind the padded bar. She obviously was a waitress from the Pale Moon's restaurant around the corner in the other room.
The thin man was gone, but Sherie's shocked brother Brody was still at the bar, looking distraught.
I approached him: "Huh? Where's Sherie?"
"In the storeroom crying. This is awful. She's devastated."
"About Gordy and his new place?"
"Well . . .okay, " I said, "but I don't see why 'tis such a...disaster...I mean..."
"Yeah? Well, you don't understand. To you a bar is a bar. But to her, it's her whole life. And she was hoping Gordy...well, It's terrible...perhaps the end. She's also going through some emotional changes right now."
A few awkward moments passed.
Sheol probably has nothing as evil to endure as what Brody was trying to weather at that moment. Then something like manna from heaven came upon him. Brody's eyes widened and got bigger. He looked at me. Stared.
Finally he said, "You look like a fine fellow. Yeah. Maybe you could help. I know you dig her as do so many others. But I think she really likes you . . ."
"Huh? . . ."
"Let me finish," he interjected. "Would you consider going out with her? Take her to a real nice place? Far from this one? Treat her real nice? Like she was class? I know this is off the wall, but I know she really admires you. I think she'd love it. Do her a world of good, and maybe solve her life-changing problem."
"Problem? Well . . .I . ..er . . ."
"Come on. Give it a try. I think I can go and work it out with her. Hey, if you're a little short, I'll even give you the money, if you'd just do it."
"Well, I'm flabbergasted, " I said. "I don't know what to say. . .yeah, I'd like to, but . . .well, this is so weird. Oh, I got the money . . . "
Brody got up suddenly, saying, "Wait here." He spun off the stool and stepped around the corner to the storeroom.
He was gone a good half hour. I had another coffee and was thinking of whiskey to calm my nerves, when Brody reappeared.
"Okay. She's agreed to do it. But you gotta tell her it was your idea. Not mine. Pick her up at her place, 5555 SE Plattsburg, Apartment A, at 8 p.m. next Wednesday. Here's my phone number, if you need directions, although her place is easy to find. Or if you have any questions, or need to adjust the time, call me. I know this is strange. But please."
- - - - - - -
Wednesday came. At 7:45 p.m. I was as nervous and upset as would be a long-tailed Baptist cat in a room of Islamic rocking chairs. But somehow I gathered enough chutzpah to go through the motions.
Encased in my old Chev beater, I arrived curbside at 5555 SE Plattsburg, wondering what she would think of such trashy wheels. Too late. I was already there. Clutching a bouquet of posies I hoofed straight up Spanish steps to her apartment at the north end of an attractive one-level, tile-roofed stucco. I rang the bell. A voice hollered, "Come in!"
Brazen as an ox in a boutique, I barged in. I was confronted with an attractive hallway of pseudo-mahogany.
" Come down the hall," she said. "I'm back here."
I went cautiously. There she was, rosy cheeked with big, gorgeous, shimmering eyes and dressed to the nines in calico (she would've looked good even in burlap), and sitting at a classy mahogany-colored kitchen table.
A big, gold-embossed book - a Bible - was open on the table.
"Sit down," she said, motioning to a chair opposite. "We're not going anywhere until we have a Bible lesson."
To say I was shocked would be understating it. Nevertheless, down inside I was thrilled. Yay saved. I knew right then it was going to be a wonderful relationship -- beauty, brains, and a wonderful Jesus-loving heart.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . ." (John 3:16).
(© 2011 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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