Saturday 18 June 2022

'Cruella de Vil in the Singles Bar' by Rosie Garland

3am, bartender swabbing spills and telling us drink up. She’s leaning on her elbow, picking at her teeth with a cocktail stick. Mascara smudged in charcoal blotches.

I thought the flirting would take us somewhere frantic; sweaty grinding in a toilet cubicle, the sort of Bad News sex I could boast about for a week. But she’s a tedious drunk, bleating how it’s all lies, and no one wants to listen to her side of the story.

The white half of her hairdo is strawlike with the number of times she’s bleached the roots. I drain my glass, slide off the barstool to escape. Her hand clamps my wrist. She’s blubbering, snotty. I pick out loneliness and please as she drags me to the parking lot.

The limousine is fancy, I’ll give her that. Jet black shimmer, cut crystal whiskey decanters, a silent chauffeur in the shadows.

Like the movie, I giggle, my voice a blur.

She belts me in. Her lips draw close, breath clean and sober. Fuck movies, she hisses, caressing the long blond hair of my forearm. Fuck redemption. Fuck women having to play nice.

What was in that drink? I mumble.

My vision smears, sooty flecks dancing in the glare. As I lose the light, I realise my mistake about who was hunter and who was prey.

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