"My mother told me I had a chameleon soul,
no moral compass pointing to north. No fixed personality, just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean."
- Lana Del Rey, Ride
Red lips and wild, brown curls reflected back at Etta in the dingy, bathroom mirror. The muffled sound of Elvis music echoed through the empty bar back down the hallway - needless to say, 3 a.m. wasn't a particularly busy hour. Hell, anytime wasn't particularly busy at this kind of place. The odd travelling family or gang of bikers would stumble upon the Howling Coyote, but in the past three weeks that she had stayed, this was found to be rare. The owner of the bar was the only other face that Etta had seen for atleast a week and a half. Jimmy had been running this place for fifteen years. She wondered how he could stay so secluded.
"There y'are darlin'." The middle-aged man croaked with a raspy, smokers voice. Etta smiled warmly and brought her arms up around his neck, giving him an enticing peck on the cheek. "It's pretty empty in here, I was thinkin'a headin' upstairs to get some beauty sleep and closin' up the Coyote." He slid his sausage-shaped fingers down her body, gripping her rear-end tightly. Etta, biting her lip, ran her hand down his face and gazed devilishly in to his dark eyes.
"You wouldn't leave a lady down here all by her lonesome self, would you?"
"I was thinkin' you'd join me upstairs."
As they began to kiss passionately, Jimmy lifted his young lover up on to the stained, porcelain sink. Her makeshift jean shorts - formerly, a pair of his Levi's - hung loosely around her thighs, allowing him to tease her by running his warm hands up her small, tan legs. Although a fire burnt deeply inside of his heart for this woman, she couldn't say the same about him. She didn't have the ability to love him. Etta was unsure she had the ability to love anybody; including herself. After a few moments of locking lips, the front door to the Howling Coyote slammed open and the rumble of a visiting bike gang roared through the hollow walls. Etta slid herself off of the sink, once again turning to the mirror to fix herself up. Jimmy, fondling his crotch to relieve himself from a now inappropriate erection, made his way to the counter to greet their guests. When Etta made her way out, all eyes were on her. There must have been thirty or more of them, and at least twenty-seven were male. She loved the feeling of the limelight. She played ignorant of their lusting gazes so well.
"A round on the house in honour of this amazing young lass, whom I have come to love dearly, Loretta."
Hoots, hollers and whistles filled the bar as Jimmy spoke. Etta lifted her arms, smiled sheepishly, and did a full turn as the now full bar cheered for their free alcohol. She strutted her way behind the counter and grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniel's for herself. Jimmy reluctantly allowed her after she batted her beautiful, green eyes at him. Not only was she underaged, but she had nearly cleared out his entire supply in less than a month - more often than not, without paying. As his feelings for the troubled, young girl increased, her debt to him decreased. Etta opened the bottle and chugged back a noticable amount. Some men in the room cheered briefly. Only she could make drinking like a man look so lady-like.
"I know girls like you."
She turned herself towards the voice.
"You're trouble." The man who spoke was sitting at the bar in front of her. He was about thirty, with a youthful face and deep-sunk eyes, nestled under light brows. Blonde hair fell down the back of his neck, stopping at the line of his leather jacket. A few pieces hung in front of his face, catching in his short-trimmed beard.
"I don't think you've ever known a girl like me."
"Oh, yes I have, sweet cheeks."
"You really think so, huh?"
"Pretty girls trying to get away. That type."
Etta didn't know how to reply. Her emotionless eyes moved down the strangers body until they met the countertop. Noticing the empty bottle of JD she had been drinking from, she reached out and grabbed his glass. He laughed handsomely and motioned her a 'go ahead' with his hands.
"Do you want to dance, pretty young thing?"
"Dancing's all I love."
The man nodded towards Jimmy, who was serving out an order of cheeseburgers and fries in the far corner of the Coyote.
"He seems to think differently."
Without replying, she slammed her foot up on the bar and reached her hand out towards her new friend. He grabbed her arm and helped her leap the counter, then followed her to the dancefloor. Etta felt a rush as she reached the red-tiled floor. The whiskey was kicking in. She closed her eyes, letting the sobriety leave her completely. When she opened them, her vision was hazy. She smiled widely, loving the feeling of it. She spun quickly around and raced to the jukebox against the wall. She was singing before she had even selected the song she had in mind.It was the one she always heard ringing in her head - no, more like her heart - every time she drank. One from her childhood. One that he used to play and sing to her. After she selected it, she turned and leant playfully against the machine. The blonde-haired biker chuckled at the song selection and made his way to her.
Etta sang along with the jukebox as she began to dance with the stranger.
"I can't stop loving you, I've made up my mind. To live in memory of the lonesome time. I can't stop wanting you, it's useless to say. So I'll just live my life in dreams of yesterday. Those happy hours that we once knew. Though long ago, they still make me blue. They say that time heals a broken heart, but time has stood still since we've been apart..."
The noise of the bar faded away. Etta was lost in a memory.
Tears began to fill her eyes, and she leant her head on the shoulder of her partner to avoid anybody noticing. His embrace felt warm and welcoming. As the song ended, she mimicked the last lyrics.
"So I'll just live my life... in dreams of yesterday... of yesterday..."
* * *
Etta poured two shots of 1600 Tequila in to glasses and counted down with her new friend. At the same time, they opened their mouths as wide as they could and chucked them back. She didn't make a single expression as the stinging liquor travelled down her throat. A few eyes stared in amazement.
"I'm Sawyer, by the way."
"Short for Loretta, huh," Sawyer remembered the toast by Jimmy at the beginning of the night. "That's a beautiful name."
She didn't care much about his flirtation - it was something she was the target of often. Right now, she was two bottles deep and craving more. The alcohol was all she wanted, but it was never enough to make her lose her mind like it used to. As she took the last shot inside of the tequila bottle, she sighed.
"What are you doing here, Etta? How did you come about this place?" He sounded disappointed.
"Just.. came across it."
"Well you got no car, no bike. Somebody had to drop you off."
As friendly as Etta was, she hated getting personal about her past - whether it be years, months, days or hours into it. She crossed her arms and leant on the bar, closely to Sawyer.
"I was travelling with a man."
"A man, huh."
"Yeah, a man. We stopped for a drink, and I liked it here. So, I stayed."
"And he didn't."
Etta had been sipping the last drops of various drinks from glasses left on the bar counter. As she swished the stale gin from one around her mouth, she shook her head 'no' in response.
"Come with me, Etta. Let me take you somewhere else."
"If I come, I don't know how long I'll stay."
"Oh, that's no worry of mine."
He was determined to have her on the back of his bike when he left this bar, and Etta couldn't deny her attraction to him. Whether it be true, or be the booze speaking, she wanted to go. She finished off the last half-empty glass at the bar and leaned in to whisper in Sawyers ear. As she did, an arousing tickle ran down his neck and spine from the warm breathe that escaped her mouth with every word.
"I have a habit of leavin' in the middle of the night."
"As long as you don't wake me on the way out." He grinned and let out a small chuckle. Etta grabbed her bag, which she kept beneath the bar at all time, and exited with him. Seeing Sawyer leave, the rest of the gang began to clear out. Jimmy didn't notice that his young lover had been one of the people to leave until he heard the roaring enginges of thirty-ish Harley's as they drove off in to the horizon. He ran outside to verify her leaving, and saw her cradling the back of Sawyer, beautiful curls blowing in the wind and glistening in the morning sunrise.
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