The Midnight Bell


[Paige] settled back on her stool and took another glance around.   The bar was disappointingly empty.   But then, it was still early, and true to its name, things didn’t really get started at The Midnight Bell until just before the witching hour.

She’d been coming here for more years than she cared to count.   Sometimes, especially lately, that thought was almost unbearably depressing.  But not tonight.  Tonight she was on top of the world. Things were finally falling into place for her. Tonight she felt like celebrating.   All she needed now was someone to celebrate with.

She signaled the bartender for another drink and fumbled in her bag for the pack of cigarettes she knew was stashed in there somewhere.   So what if the State of California had banned smoking in bars?  It was a stupid law, and she was glad to risk the fine.   Some things were worth almost any risk.  She flicked her lighter repeatedly until it finally flared.  The bartender, with a disapproving sigh, slid an ashtray in front of her.   Paige blew a defiant cloud of smoke into the air.

She was in the mood for taking a few risks tonight.   Besides, it wasn’t that much of a risk, really.  These days, there weren’t a whole lot of cops who hung out in here, anyway.

*   *   *

Darcy Boyle walked in through the door of The Midnight Bell and was hit by a wave of something she might have called nostalgia, if it weren’t for the fact she hated having to be here.   Whatever the feeling was, it hit her even harder than the noise emanating from the band warming up on the club’s small stage.   She had spent far too many evenings in here, back when she lived in Oberon.   Though most of her memories were good ones, it was always the bad memories that stood out the farthest, and stayed with her the longest.

It was business that brought her back to Oberon.   And bad business, at that.   She’d be glad when she wrapped things up and got back to her new life in Los Angeles.   In the meantime, she might as well make the best of being here.

She caught sight of Paige almost immediately; sprawled seductively on a barstool, vamping one of the guitarists--a kid almost young enough to be her son.   The two women had never been friends, exactly, but Oberon was not a large town.   They’d both spent too many wild nights partying with the same small crowd of single, or nearly single men to pretend like they didn’t know each other.   Which is probably why it had come as such a shock that it was Paige who broke the story that forced her to quit the police force and leave town.   Not that betrayal was ever easy to handle--no matter whose hand dealt the blow.  That was a lesson she’d learned very well.

©PG Forte 2004
A Sight to Dream Of

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