Smoke hangs in the air like a thick layer of fog. Heavy, cloying and stale, mixed with an even less inviting scent of old sweat and old beer. The dim lights fight to shine through it, weakly illuminating swirling patterns just above the patrons of the dive bar.
My lip curls as my gaze roves over the dubious looking ragtag bunch of people milling about Reacher’s Row, somehow known as the hottest pub in the Section. Clearly ‘hot’ needs to be redefined. They’re all swilling drinks and grinding their hips on one another. My gaze lands on one couple practically naked in the corner, and I hastily avert my eyes. Patrons is definitely too nice a word. Tonight’s gig is anything but glamorous.
I tuck my hair behind my ear and run my fingers along the keys of the baby grand in front of me, mentally rehearsing my starting note. Taking a deep breath, I jump into the chorusof one of my favorite songs and close my eyes, letting the melody wash over me. The words coming out of my mouth, straight from my soul, sparkle. They remind me of what could be. Of better times. Not that I’ve known many of those.
Most of the audience is already well on their way to complete intoxication. Either from one too many drinks, or from the drugs they took before coming in. Typical.
But there are a few—just a few—who actually stop whatthey’re doing to listen. I can see them in my brief glances around the dim room as I play and sing. Their eyes follow my hands as they dance across aged black and white keys and their lips turn up at my snarky comments, thinly veiled by music and melody. My own lips curve slightly in acknowledgement, one snarky soul to another.
I am a rebel in my own right.
But my songs are as far as I can go. As far as I’ll ever go.