He stood in the shadows assessing his target. He had been following them all day in hopes of getting a clear shot at her, his most challenging assignment to date, the woman with the rose tattoo.
This was the opportunity he had been patiently waiting for. They were sitting outside, in the not yet warm spring air in a spot of sunshine, that ironically, she insisted on, when no one else in their right might wanted to sit outside in such cold weather. All he needed was for her to lean in towards her companion just a bit…“Come on buddy, say something interesting,” he thought to himself. Her companion opened his mouth and her head turned toward him. It was now or never.
As he sighted his weapon, he slowly breathed out, letting his body relax as he prepared to take the shot. She began to lean forward, when suddenly, she looked up and recoiled away. The shot missed its target and flew off into the woods behind them, flushing out a flock of small songbirds. Startled by the sound, they both stared off into the woods and then scanned the perimeter. They weren’t certain what they had heard, but she knew something was not right and wasted no time getting out of there, and out of sight. He had missed his shot and lost his opportunity.
He stalked away, disgusted and frustrated. He was the best. He didn’t miss. There was only one thing to do now.
Off the beaten path, the tavern was dimly lit and filled with people who minded their own business and preferred others do the same. It was a place where someone with secrets could unwind and relax in peace.
“I’ll have the usual, Joe,” he said sullenly, as the bartender poured a dark amber beverage from an antique bottle he had already reached for. He took a long draw from the glass and settled down onto the stool at the back of the bar. “What are you looking at?” he menacingly asked a couple of strangers who were staring at his cloak and odd accouterments. The younger of the two started to say something, but the look on the face of the bartender and everyone else in the room told him that it would be better if they just left quietly.
“Rough day?” Joe mused.
“I’m never going to get this one. She’s escaped every trap, slipped every snare and is always one step ahead of me,” he lamented.
“The buffoon she was with certainly didn’t help matters any.”
“Who in the hell orders a sardine sandwich on a first date? That’s a more potent detriment to romance than a lead tipped arrow. I’m never going to get another shot at those two, and who knows how long it will be before she decides to give another one a go.”
“Hit me again,” he said, motioning to the glass in front of him. Joe was already on it; this wasn’t his first rodeo and he knew how this night was going to play out.
“I’m a GOD for fuck’s sake. I don’t get any respect,” he continued, “This costume, it’s ridiculous; and don’t even get me started on how small those damn Italian artists make my genitals look. Eros never had to deal with this shit. The damn Greeks get all the good artistic representations. I mean come, on, This…THIS is a big…”
“Hold it right there, keep it in your loincloth or whatever in the hell that is you’re wearing under that cloak; no one here wants to see that.” Joe admonished.
“No one remembers that—no one cares anymore. It’s not like it used to be when people wanted to fall in love, get married and raise kids. I’m telling you, women’s lib and the pill ruined it all. Women have hobbies, careers and don’t necessarily want to be tied down. Well, some of the kinky ones do, If you know what I mean…” Joe rolled his eyes and tried not to encourage him.
“What do I know about love? My mother spent her time lounging naked in a clamshell seducing everyone in sight and my father was constantly waging war. Man, you should have heard the fights in my house. Personally, I think this love business is bullshit.” He emphasized the word bullshit by slamming his empty glass down on the bar..
Joe was already pouring another one and didn’t bother to put the bottle away.
“The one today? A redhead. She’s the worst, I’ve been tracking her for years. Redheads are always tough, sometimes one gold arrow isn’t enough and they need another one, just like booze and anesthesia. Do you have any idea how hard these are to get?” he asked while waving an arrow with a glowing golden tip around his head in frustration.
“Come on buddy, put the arrow down, there’s no one in here to use it on. Look at this sorry lot.” said Joe, who was grinning and gesturing at the shady clientele. He poured another drink, and decided to pour one for himself as well. He could tell it was going to be a long night.
Afternoon turned to evening and the non-regulars began to show up on their bar-hopping expeditions. Joe found these yuppies and hipsters amusing as they thought they were being quite “edgy” by spending 20 minutes in a dive bar. It was fine by him, they were polite, tipped well and those who wanted privacy for their dealings and demons were generally clear of the main bar at this time of night and everyone pretty much left everyone else alone.
As the fates would have it, the woman with the rose tattoo entered the tavern looking for some friends. Her cell phone rang and she learned that they were meeting at a different, less divey bar down the street.
She was heading for the door when a man caught her eye. They both stopped and gazed at each other for what felt much longer than it actually was. Something passed between them that neither could explain.
She lingered in the doorway, framed by neon light just long enough to make herself vulnerable.
And then she disappeared into the darkness of the crowded sidewalk outside, as Cupid lay drunk and snoring in a small puddle of drool on the bar, one hand still resting lightly on a gold tipped arrow.
L Lisa Lawrence is an award winning writer and photographer working with Premier Media Group and Sagacity Media. Her work is featured in every issue of South Sound and 425 Magazines. Locally she has contributed to the South Sound Users Guide, Creative Colloquy Volume 1, The News Tribune, and the Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal. Her work encompasses: technical, spiritual, political, art, urban farming, sustainability, inspirational humor and travel writing. You can see more of her work at wildcelticrose.net