WORDS N PAINTINGS : ANNA SAMPSON
BAR, PARIS. WITH MY MUM.
Once Mum and I had both finished our drinks I had an inkling she wanted to leave but I knew she would say
“Anna, feel free to stay on.”
The bar reminded me of the places they go to in Sex and The City. You know, the restaurants that are miraculously a bar and a club all at the same time? This place was monochrome and deceivingly long with a hint of tack.
I’d be lying if I said sitting at that bar alone was easy. I couldn’t get even half a smile from the stone faced bartender, who threw the card machine at me immediately after I ordered my second Moscow Mule.
VIEW FROM THE BAR
To my right there were a group of older men. They looked like pigeons. Pigeons in all black wearing chains, who could’ve worked in fashion, but not quite, all clumped up near the bar. One or two would leave the flock, then reappear to shout “more shots, more shots!!!!”, clicking fingers, in unison, to old stone face, who didn’t bat an eyelid. It felt like the beginning of a French West Side Story that I wasn’t up for watching. With a look of disdain, I repositioned myself outside, under the red heaters.
Nobody struck up conversation with me apart from the Maitre D’. He asked me why I was alone but I think that was out of pity. Snake. Thanks to my thriving social life, I had Nina and my Dad to text. Nina was filling me in on the gossip from the shisha bar and my Dad…well, he was at home, and sent me something like:
“Hi Anna. Mum says you’re out on your own. Please don’t stay out too late.”
“Hey. No probs! I’m going to leave after this drink! Love you.”
This was not my first solo rodeo. Did he know that? Nah. Some things are best left unsaid. 😉 However, I assumed my text would’ve put him at ease.
People swung in and out of the smoking area, and I tried to conceal my longing looks, or rolling eyes, (in the case of the pigeons) when they came out with their cigars, one upping us all.
In the midst of my texting frenzy, I looked up, and, across the road, stood an old man wearing a neckerchief and a hat. To his left, a young man wearing a beanie, and to his left another young man with long black hair. They were stood, in a line, in height order, and their presence was so stark that it dulled out the fleeting, dizzying buzz the smoking area provided. Immediately I honed in on him. The one with the long black hair.
Black hair approached me; I saw his face up close and mine went bright red. He had a porcelain face and a skinny body. I hadn’t spoken to someone so pretty in forever and wondered what moisturiser he used. In retrospect it was definitely La Mer. Through an international school drawl, I learnt that he needed a lighter and that he made films too and that his friend had met neckerchief on the street who he described as a clown and-
“Shut UP!” old man barked as guy number 1 walked behind him.
Clown was a quick study. He was one of those token quirky, “Leonard Cohen tribute act” men who lured people in by their compulsive lies, like being related to famous poets or offering to pay for dinner. They were all the same, iced with rings, drinking deplorable cocktails, and in constant denial of their withering bodies. He staggered over and straight off the bat asked if I fancied him. I said no. Black hair and beanie winced, only for a second, not to upset their new found cling on.
He then announced, “I’m tired”, and rested his greasy head on mine. Things fell silent because it was clear the boys didn’t know how to get rid off this geez and that from here on out, we would be suspended in clown’s performance of woes.
EXIT, STAGE LEFT
Over the course of ten mins, long hair and I quickly orchestrated a tango of amorous looks, we swapped IG’s (#2019) keeping shtum for fear to triggering clown.
The silence was broken by
There stood my father, red in the face, (like father like daughter ) eyes flicking from clown’s head resting on my shoulder to the rose gold chalice that my Moscow Mule sat in.
“Anna. Come with me RIGHT NOW!’
I stood up, doing as I was told to, leaving black hair and his companions behind. I was completely numb, but not enough to block out the haggles and screams of “How old are you?” from the throngs of people lining the walls. Even the Maitre’D joined in.
At that very moment, I had no idea of the wild and disturbing events to follow.
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