Moira has an unpleasant encounter, leaving her with something to really ponder.
|Moira leaned her back against the bar and tapped the side of her glass idly with a chipped fingernail while she sat alone in the smoky air. She couldn't see well in the dimly lit bar, but she opted for watching the people around her. The women, the average looking to be middle-aged, wore high-end cocktail dresses that were too low on top and too high at the hem, and adorned themselves with clunky jewels. The men dressed in dark slacks or designer jeans topped with vests and ties. As one of them passed by her, undeniably eying her legs, she stared through him while she tugged at the hem of her own green satin dress – made by a private designer who dined with her father on occasion.
“Somethin' on your mind, sweetheart?” the bartender questioned over the girl's shoulder. Moira bent her head back to watch him instead. His name was Roland, which Moira had always thought to be a misfit of a name for a man with such a drawl as he had.
“Same as ever,” the young girl replied after a beat in her gentle, low voice. He smiled at her while he washed out a cup.
“An' what would that be, darlin'?” Moira shrugged. She had outgrown her distaste for the man's sugary-sweet pet names, but it occasionally crossed her mind to notice that he didn't often speak to the other patrons quite as familiarly.
Moira didn't get a chance to answer – sincerely or otherwise – before Roland jerked his head to the entrance. Moira, already facing the same direction, saw the man in a black uniform, an officer of the law, walk through the doorway. She made a stealth-like gesture for Roland to take her drink away. He replaced it with a soda before the officer could have a chance to investigate, or card her.
The cop, a wiry man with dark hair looking to be in his late twenties, approached the bar and found a seat. He ordered a drink, announcing he was off duty. Clearly he was looking for a friend, and chewed Roland's ear off while he drank down his scotch and ordered another. Moira grew bored of him and resumed ignoring the other patrons, as she had been before Roland had tried to pick her brain moments earlier. Moira nursed her soda in silence.
The officer, after his two drinks, stood again and walked himself to the door.
“He was just takin' the edge off, Moi. You can relax.” He took her soda, nearly full, off the counter and replaced it with a refill of her previous concoction. Moira slid some bills across the bar but Roland waved them away. “This one's on the house, dearie.”
She didn't like that, but knew better than to protest. She didn't know where Roland had come from, but had learned that, to him, refusal of a favor was tantamount to insult, so she let it be, and sipped her drink.
She still sat with her back to the bar when a woman approached, wearing a navy lace dress with a plunging neckline, despite the fact that the woman's hair and drooping face aged her poorly. She wore what looked to be diamond jewels around her neck and wrists, but she wasn't what Moira could call pretty. She tried to ignore that the woman was making a bee-line toward her, but when she reached Moira and slapped a hand across her face, the woman had her direct attention.
“How dare you, you little brat?”
How dare I? Moira asked to herself. How dare I what? But she was too shocked to speak the question aloud.
“I saw what you just did! And what you just did!" She waved a finger violently toward Roland. "You, little miss, hardly look twenty years old! There's no way you can be old enough to drink here.” Moira shot the bartender a nervous glance, but Roland only watched the old woman wearing an expressionless mask. “Do you know how dangerous it is for little kids like you to have alcohol before you're old enough to know how to be responsible with it? Look at you! Are you even sober enough to walk?” The woman jeered.
A switch flicked on inside of Moira, and her quiet, undisclosing demeanor was immediately overtaken, becoming ruled by a feral rage. She jumped from her seat and lashed out at the older woman, grabbing her by the arms and pushing backward. She bared her chipped fingernails like rough claws and scratched at the woman, tearing the wrinkled skin on her bare arms.
“Who the hell are you calling a “little kid”? I am not a child!” She shouted. She released one arm to reach up and yank at the woman's hair, and she gave a yelp of surprise and pain. “I have lived through more crap than half of the “adults” here!”
The woman managed to wrestle free of Moira's grasp and pushed the girl back toward the bar. She slapped her face again, this time with the back of her hand, her large jeweled ring scratching her cheek.
“Arrogant little bitch!” she spat. The woman waved her arm and knocked Moira's drink off the bar, sending a spray of ice and broken glass crashing across the floor.
Moira stared at the woman while they both gulped heaving breaths of air, and noticed that there was moisture glistening on her cheeks. Moira calmed. The woman began to sob.
“Children like you should quit while they're ahead,” the woman said quietly. “Before they lose it all.”
Moira, stunned to silence, watched the woman while she wiped at her eyes and pushed her way back through the crowd, and wondered what had just happened.