Tony watched as the woman walked along the bar and through a door to the back room. He was alone. Part of him thought that maybe Nate wouldn’t ever make it there. He still had a day or two to wait, and that was only if he had calculated everything right. He wasn’t known for his mathematical abilities. It seemed like years had passed since he was in London, while it had only been two or three days. Tony grabbed at the cup in front of him and raised it to his mouth. Even though he was the only one there he felt odd not holding onto something, even if it was empty. He knew the woman would be back soon and he was right. She walked back into the room with a man following her.
“See. I told you. Another one,” she said. “Believes he is waiting for someone. Someone called Nate.”
“I’ll deal with this. You check the stock out back.”
Tony watched the woman leave the room again. The newcomer approached him.
“This Nate. The one you’re waiting for. He said he’ll meet you here?”
“Yeah,” Tony answered. “He left me a text.”
“Mind if I have a look?”
“I wish you could, but I left my phone back in London.”
“Right.” The man paused for a while. “Back in London. What if he tries to contact you again?”
“I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. He’ll be here. Tomorrow or the next day. That sign out there. It ain’t working. No one is going to stop at a place with a sign like that. You have a car? I could drive it back to London and get one for you? I told the woman, I know a guy. It’s true as well. I do know a guy and he’s great at things like this. Could get you a good deal.”
“Thanks mate, but I don’t have a car. I think the sign is fine how it is anyway. It really sums the place up.”
“That it does. Can’t argue with that. I take it the red car belongs to the woman.”
“Red car?” He sighed. “I’ll be back soon.”
Tony’s eyes followed the man as he left the room.
“I told you to stop messing with the people that come in here. Just because you got it straight away doesn’t mean everyone else did. Leave them alone.” Tony could hear the man shout.
It was around this time that Tony noticed the gigantic fan above him. Suspended in the air and slowly rotating. He didn’t feel that hot but there didn’t seem to be any breeze coming from the fan. He didn’t really know why but it made him smile. The man came back into the room.
“You can stay here a week. Clean some dishes, help us out with some customers. Things like that.”
“Thanks. It should only be the one night. Two at most. Nate will be here. I promise. There doesn’t seem to be anyone here. Is there anything I can do to help you now?”
“Sure. Go out back, down the stairs and pick out a room. Whatever one you like. Me and Angela, we sleep upstairs.”
“Is what she said true?”
“Was she really going to be an actress?”
“Funny how life works.”
Tony stood up and walked into the back room. There were crates and barrels everywhere. To the left was a staircase leading down. He walked down it. The metal underneath clanked with every step. Tony felt like he was walking down stairs which he used to see in those prison shows he and his wife liked so much. At the bottom was a corridor leading to the right. He walked down it. There were three doors on the right, spread evenly apart. The middle one called to him and Tony walked to it. Inside was a bed and not much else. Some scratchings on the wall next to the head of the bed, a sweet wrapper that danced around when the door was pushed open and a small clump of hair on the floor near the bed. Tony looked down at his empty hands, almost wishing for a bag of his things to appear. They didn’t. Tony also realised that he hadn’t eaten since he left London. But he also wasn’t hungry.
The next couple of days went by quickly. Tony refused to eat anything that his hosts offered him. He wanted to see how long it would take him to get ill, or even just to start craving food. He started having trouble sleeping during that time as well. The first night was fine, but the second he just lay there. And it was like that for the rest of the week. Only two customers came by during the entire week. Angela was at the bar again, while Tony was wiping some of the tables down. The woman walked in with her child. She was missing part of her face. The skin around her eye had completely disappeared and her actual eye was hanging slightly. In her hand was a rope. The other end of the rope was tied around the little child’s neck. His eyes were lifeless. They walked up to the counter. Angela didn’t say a word.
“Jesus. Angela. Can’t you see they need help.” Tony shouted.
“I didn’t see anything. Can’t help them either.”
Tony ran into the back room to find Joe. He learnt that Joe was his name the first time he rejected food. He wasn’t sure how exactly it came up but he was glad It did.
“Joe,” Tony shouted. “We need some help out front.”
“Why what’s happened.” Joe shouted back before walking into Tony’s vision.
“Two people came in. They look hurt.”
“Okay. You go back there and do the stock check. I’ll sort this out.”
Tony followed his orders and started counting the number of barrels they had left. It was the same number as the day before and the day before that and the day before that and the day before that. In the end the barrels made Tony realise something was off. He got up after recounting them and walked back out to the front. Angela was standing behind the bar as always. Joe was near the door.
“I got them some help, Tony. They looked in bad shape. What’s wrong?”
To Be Continued…