Saturday 5 – Thursday 17 March 2011
By midnight, Brooke was feeling under the weather, and was regretting more and more, allowing her friends to drag her out on a night of drinking, in order to get over Toby. She hadn’t needed to get over Toby. Brooke had realised, when she confronted him that she’d been over Toby for a long time. The separation was just a formality.
She owed it to herself to find someone who would treat her well, and not sleep with every skirt he came across. Brooke thought about all of the trips away with the boys that Toby had taken. Had they actually been fishing trips, and business junkets? Or was there something else that had happened?
‘Stupid woman. Doesn’t matter now,’ she said to herself.
The women’s bathroom of Finnegan’s Bar and Grill reeked of cheap perfume, alcohol, stale cigarette smoke, and vomit. It was not the classiest of bars that they’d managed to find: far from it, in fact. The sawdust on the floor should have been the giveaway, but they’d ignored that because Lorna had spotted some hunky biker type tending bar.
Brooke splashed cold water on her face, reached for a paper towel, and dabbed her face dry. She sighed. Right now, all she wanted was to go home, but she doubted that the girls would let her off the hook that easily.
Three drunken women barged through the door as Brooke was trying to exit the bathroom. Shocked by the fact that someone else was already inside, they giggled raucously when they came face to face with Brooke. She smiled, let them past, and went back out to her friends.
Lorna could barely sit on the barstool. Her hair, damp and listless, matched the expression on her face. She’d consumed far too much gin, and Brooke snickered at the image that popped into her head, of Lorna, the morning after, with the mother of all hangovers.
‘We should go,’ Brooke suggested.
The others nodded in agreement. Preah and Denise lifted Lorna up by the arms, the drunken woman unable to stand on her own two feet. They shuffled her to the exit, and Brooke, who had been following behind, stepped in front of them and pushed the door. It didn’t budge. Confused, she turned back to look at the bar tender. The three women who had gone into the bathroom were now leaning against the bar, not a hint of inebriation evident on their faces.
‘Could you unlock the door please?’ Brooke asked.
The bar tender stepped out from around the bar and casually approached Brooke and her friends. He played with the keys that were clipped to a belt loop on his faded black jeans. Reaching the door, he gave it a shove. It was, most definitely, locked. His confused expression worried Brooke. It seemed that he hadn’t expected the door to be locked. He shoved it hard again. The door didn’t give.
‘Well, that’s damn odd. I never locked the door.’ He turned his head to look back towards the bar. ‘Annie, d’you lock the door?’
One of the women leaning against the bar shook her head. ‘No, Jake, I did not lock the door. Why in God’s name would I?’
He shoved it one more time, as if hoping it was just a silly mistake. It was then that Brooke smelled the smoke.
‘There’s a fire outside. Look,’ Brooke pointed to the floor.
Jake, the hunky biker bar tender, looked at where she had pointed. He could see the orange radiance under the door. Someone had locked them in the bar, and started a fire outside. There could only be one intention. With all the alcohol inside the bar, and in the basement, the fire must have been set with the express intent of razing the bar to the ground.
. . . To be continued . . .