Bar Crawl
Author:Andrea Randall

Bar Crawl by Andrea Randall

 

 

 

 

To all the readers of the November Blue series who asked for more CJ. This one's for you.

 

 

 

Frankie

 

 

His hair was shaggy. Not in a particular sexy way, either. More like you couldn’t tell if he’d just gotten out of bed or if he hadn’t been there since the day before last. Not the long, hippie type of shaggy, either. Okay, you know what? His hair looked like shit. It was an ashen brown. It looked soft, though, I had to give him that.

 

“You checkin’ out the drummah?” Bradley, birthed from the bowels of Boston’s South End, hollered in my ear.

 

“No. Are you?” I teased, sipping my vodka soda.

 

He pursed his understated glossed lips. “Please. Besides, you know I wouldn’t come here for men.”

 

I looked around, understanding his point. Finnegan’s, on the outskirts of Barnstable in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, wasn’t particularly a pulse point for the gay community. Bradley was here with me tonight because I hated going out for drinks in Hyannis, where we taught.

 

“Point taken.” I nodded and sipped my drink again, listening to the hard sounds of the rock band as they commanded the bar’s attention. I felt my eyes involuntarily scanning the room, looking for parents.

 

There were no rules at our school prohibiting teachers from patronizing local establishments. But, I’ve gotta be honest, the last thing I wanted to do after teaching fifty twelve-year-olds how to execute the English language properly was to chat up their parents on their date night. Or mine, just in case I had one. It was always awkward, each party feeling an obligation to acknowledge the other, though neither wanted to.

 

Above that, I didn’t need parents thinking they had a window into my private life. It’s very challenging for teachers to have such a thing—a private life—and I was bound and determined to keep mine sacred for as long as possible.

 

“Where are the girls tonight?” Bradley asked of my Spanish and Art teaching friends, Marissa and Lauren.

 

I shrugged. “You’re it.”

 

Bradley ran a hand through his spiky blonde hair as his playful smile creased the sun kissed skin around his brown eyes. “On dates?”

 

I rolled my eyes.

 

“No need to get testy.” He pinched my upper arm, earning him an elbow to the side.

 

I couldn’t blame the eye roll on any fresh wounds from a breakup. That breakup was a year ago and was no longer a valid excuse for my attitude. It was just hard to date.

 

When the tourists slip away, Cape Cod turns into a sprawling small town, no different than any other. And, for someone like myself who transplanted from Albany, I was as adapted as a foreigner. Sure, I spoke the language, but just barely. I may as well have wandered into the Outback of Australia the way I misunderstood the emotional subtext swimming around me. Everyone seemed connected somehow, and none of them to me.

 

My internal grumbling was interrupted by the loud applause springing up around me. “Last Call” was screen printed on the bass drum, and the band was good. While I hadn’t seen them perform in this incarnation before, I’d seen each member perform at Finnegan’s and other bars around Cape Cod for years. They were all locals of the peninsula, I’d gathered, by the way they always seemed to know everyone around them.

 

That drummer—the one Bradley liked to tease me about—was the most dangerous of them all. His forearms were massive, corded with thick muscles and veins which he attempted to camouflage under elaborate full-sleeve tattoos. His chest seemed like it was as broad as the set he sat behind. His shoulders strained against the cotton of his t-shirt. All of them. No matter which he wore. I doubted he had a six-pack underneath that fabric, but he was solid despite the gallons of beer he seemed to swallow between sets.

 

His physical monstrosities were the least of his warning signs, though, and before I had my guard up, I was caught up in the applause and made direct eye contact with him.

 

Damn.

 

His eyes were the clear blue of a winter morning sunrise. They were nothing to write books about, but my panties weren’t looking to write books.

 

Drummers are dangerous, my aunt Lori always said to me. You stay away from them.

 

She’d been burned by a drummer in her nearly twenties, or so the story goes. She had no basis to throw this caution my way. I’d never shown interest in anything other than book nerds. So, I’d had no reason to heed her warnings, which left me in this steamy-panty predicament.

 

“Here he comes,” Bradley whispered as the crowd died down to a normal chatter volume.

 

“Shut up,” I hissed, feeling the heat in my cheeks. “He’s not coming over here for anything other than beer.” I straightened my head and took a deep breath.