Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Calm After the Strom Part II

The Calm After the Storm. Part II

The storm rushed in through the side door; clouds of people leaving the concert all carrying a strong thirst. A young couple laughed at the impatience that surrounded them. Old men loosened their ties and shouted over the bar and old women clicked their tongues against their teeth to demonstrate their disgust at not being next.
In many ways, he enjoyed this. In many ways, he had no choice. It was that or let it bother him. “Who’s next please?” he shouted. He knew that more than one person would claim the rights to being next; he knew people wouldn’t like it when he did not serve them first.
In frustration, and possibly pain, a small old man with a big grey beard punched the bar and left.
Then the phone rang.
The rumble and shouts of the crowd reminded him that the phone was quiet. He knew, combining the busy bar and broken phone, he was about to have an awkward conversation.

“Afternoon White Hart bar.” He said, putting a finger in his free ear in an attempt to make the other end seem a little louder. There was no response so he thought either he, or they, did not hear.

“White Hart, can I help you?” he repeated just in case. This question prompted a surprisingly clear and competent reply.

“…white heart?” the voice asked, “You…are…white heart…”
He had not yet noticed the hand covering the free ear had fallen by his side. Despite trying no longer to focus all of his hearing on the call, he could hear the voice as clear as ever. It was as if somebody had pushed a mute button, silencing all the customers. He was not deaf but he could hear nothing except complete still.
The voice returned, softly, before he had the chance to speak.

“Yes, that’s better,” then there was a pause, “Now I can hear it beat. Yes…yes…you are white heart…”
After a short silence the noise and roar of the crowded bar came crashing back into his senses. He was not sure how long the gap between the voice and the crowd was, but when he tried to speak, he could only hear the noise from the customers in the bar, no voice.

“Hello…? Hello…?”
The voice, once more, had become a dial tone.

From then the mayhem seemed to filter away. The rush had passed and as with all rushes after concerts, it left a large mess in its wake. Patches and puddles of alcohol covered the work units and floor, empty bottles lay scattered, there was shattered glass everywhere and the bin had fallen over.

The last couple left the bar, thanking the staff as they made their way back into the outside worlds.

He turned his back on the bar and breathed in the silence and calm. Slowly clearing the mess and filling the dishwasher with used glasses, he treasured this ‘after’ moment. This part he loved most. A small laugh of uncertainty left his body as he considered the phone call. He did not have time to think about it as the second half of the rush took off, but now it was calm and the bar was empty. He thought.


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