One Night

I had been travelling for a while when I found myself in a dimly lit bar in a god forsaken town in the countryside. The rain had tainted my mood and the cold had gotten in my bones. Things that would not have changed if I would have stayed in the little hotel room I had gotten for the night. The radiator was broken and the blanket was not much thicker than a glossy page from a fancy magazine.  So I ended up in this bar. At least it was fairly  warm and the beer cheep enough. I had my phone out hoping that random things on the internet might cheer me up a bit. No success, the WiFi in this place was shit and on top of that was my battery on it’s last legs.  I resorted to my little notebook to write down my thoughts, writing usually helped even more to get my mind of things than random things on the internet anyways. I had written about half a page when I heard the door open. Two guys came in and took a seat on my left at the bar, two stools down. They where talking in hushed voices. The smaller guy of the two kept looking over his shoulder. They definitely gave of a very suspicious vibe. The cold that was still lingering in my toes made me not want to care and I redirected my thoughts back to my notebook. But there was something, I could not concentrate, their whispering voices  where impossible to ignore. It annoyed me.  It seemed like I could do nothing else but listen to what they were saying.
‘…but what if you put the flower on top of the thing, wouldn’t that work?’  asked the shorter one.
‘No no no, are you mental? That would only make it worse!’ answered the other one while shaking his head.
Their conversation didn’t seem to need the urgent whisper and suspicion. I turned back to the lined pages of my notebook and mindlessly started to draw a flower.

As my thoughts started to drift away someone else came in the bar. I looked around and saw a young man walk in, completely soaked by the rain. His hair stuck to his forehead in wet strands, his blue jumper stained dark by the drops. He walked up to the bar with a worried look upon his face.
‘What can I get you?’ The bartender asked.
‘Just a pint…’ the guy answered, not even looking up.
I made eye contact with the bartender just as he rolled his eyes, silently communicating that he was  sick of rude people. I gave him a little smile.
The new guest stood between me and the whispering duo. He took of his jumper, probably to get rid of the wetness. As he lifted the jumper over his head his shirt rose with it. For a moment I was looking at his well toned abs. His skin was pale and a dark line of hair ran from just above his navel down behind his belt. I quickly looked away when his hand yanked his shirt back in place. He threw the jumper over a stool and sat on the one next to it, just beside me. Looking at the glass in front of him he sight deeply and balled up his fist.
The scent of his slightly wet body entered my nostrils, it was a very pleasant scent, manly but clean. I inhaled slightly deeper without realising.
Another sigh followed accompanied with a little shake of his head. I suppressed the urge to ask him what was wrong, because something clearly was not going well for him. Usually I don’t hesitate at all to talk to people, especially in a bar but he made me feel a bit shy. Was it his scent or that little display of partial nudity? I had no idea. I took a sip from my beer and started turning the pages of my notebook for something to do with my hands. I was thoroughly taken aback from my reaction to this stranger. It was not in my nature to be slightly intimidated by people I didn’t know. Maybe “intimidated” is not the right word for it. The time came to collect myself and I decided to put him out of my mind and took up my pen to write further. My sudden movement must have caught his eye because he turned his head towards me. I glanced back and our eyes met for a moment. His eyes where a bright blue, even in this dimly lit bar you could see how blue they where.
A little ‘Hey.’ escapes my mouth as I turned my eyes back to the beer in front of me.
‘Hey.’ he replied. A short silence followed, then another deep sigh.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked a little hesitant.
He blew some air through his lips and turned his head towards me.
‘Not really… I did something very stupid…’
I look at him quizzically.
‘I locked myself out of my apartment.’ he finally admitted looking down at his shoes.
‘That’s not good.’ I replied in lack of anything better to say.
After a few moments of silence he continued ‘You see, I was taking out the rubbish and the door fell shut. Normally I always take my key and the door never shuts. The one time I forget the damned key of course shit goes down.’
He seemed frustrated.
‘That’s how it always goes, isn’t it?’ I replied. ‘Murphy’s law.’
He blew a little air though his nose in a smirk. ‘True…’
‘Can’t you ring the neighbours to let you in?’
‘I tried, then I realiesed my downstairs neighbour in on holiday to the South of France for another two weeks.’ He smiled a little with the irony of the situation. ‘At least I remembered that I have to go and water his plants…. If I ever get back in.’
I smiled at him. ‘No one else who can let you in?’
‘No, we are the only two living there, it’s a house split in two apartments. He is the only one with another key of the front door.’
I gave him a compassionate look.
‘I tried to get in climbing the drain pipe but I just can’t reach, I gave up when it started to poor’
The mental image of him climbing a drainpipe made me chuckle.
‘What are you laughing at!?’ He asked with a smile lingering on his own mouth.
‘Well… Let me buy you another beer, it won’t stop raining just yet.’ I offered.

For the rest of the evening I didn’t touch my pen or notebook again. We sat at the bar talking till the bartender asked if we wanted a last one. This made us realise how late it was already. Time had just flown by, talking, laughing. His name was Jack. He was a plumber by day and a keyless wanderer by night.
‘I really need to get back and try to get in.’ He said.
‘If you want, I can maybe help out, I’m not really looking forward to getting to that cold hotel room anyway.’
He looked at me, thinking. ‘I am sure I will get in eventually but if you don’t mind, there is something that might work if we try together.’

We walked two streets to get to his apartment. Luckily the rain had died down and now the moon was shining through the clouds. It casted a white light that made every wet surface shine.
‘This is it.’ Jack said pointing at a detached house on the left. The rubbish bags had already been picked up.
‘We need to get up there.’ He pointed at a balcony on the first floor. ‘That door leeds to my bedroom. The lock on the door has been broken for a while so sometimes it opens on it’s own when there is a lot of wind.’
‘That doesn’t seem very safe.’ I said, more taking to myself then anything else.
‘It’s fine, I have put one of my nightstands in front of it. But when you push hard enough the door should open. The only problem is getting up the balcony.’
Jack was looking up, I looked at him. He was a good looking man. His dark hair was short and a bit messy. It continued down the sides of his face in a short stubble. He was not very tall, just about the same hight I was. I didn’t mind though, I have always liked the “not overly tall”. His shoulders where wide, he looked fit and based on what he had told me tonight he was pretty athletic.
‘Here is my plan,’ he yanked me back to reality ‘If you go stand on my shoulders you can maybe reach the balcony, climb up and get in.’
I stared at him. ‘Are you crazy? That seems….’
I looked at the front of the house and contemplated the plan while talking. My first impulse was to say it was impossible but now I was thinking about it, it might be feasible. The balcony wasn’t that high after all.
‘…. Maybe possible.’ I finished my sentence with a little delay.
His eyes sparkled.

We started on the execution of our plan. First I sat on his shoulders, this way I could just reach the underside of the balcony railing. I didn’t manage to pull myself up far enough to get on it though. Then we tried it differently, I was going to stand on his shoulders. I felt a little more anxious to try this but I was invested in the case now. He squatted down a little so I could step up onto his upper leg while he held my hand. We where standing right up to the wall so we could both use it as support. I put my other foot on his shoulder and, using the wall to steady myself, pushed up. I could reach the top of the balcony now and it was fairly easy to pull my feet up and climb over the railing.
We both cheered as I made it.
‘Okay, now, if you get in, the front door of my apartment is in the hallway to the right. See if you can push open the door.’
I pushed, no movement.
‘It seems to be stuck’ I yelled down.
But with another strong push the door gave way and I heard the nightstand scrape over the floor as I pushed the door open further.
‘I’m in!’ I exclaimed exited.
I heard a releaved ‘Yes!’ from below.
Another little push and I could step into his bedroom. It was dark but the moonlight was shining trough the glass door. I saw a slightly messy room. The bed was not made and clothes where hanging of a chair, some had fallen of. I could smell his scent again. Not long after Jack had walked in the bar and sat next to me I had gotten used to his scent that had taken me by surprise in the beginning. I had already forgotten that moment but it came back to me quickly.
On the other side of the room, just across from me was a door. I walked up to it and opened it, it gave out into a narrow hallway. It was very dark in here though, there didn’t seem to be any windows. I reached around looking for a light switch. I found it quick enough. To my left was an open doorway to what seemed to be the living room, to my right a door that looked like a front door.
As I opened the door downstairs, Jack came bursting in and hugged me tightly.
‘I wouldn’t have gotten in without you.’ he said. He let go, I smiled. We stood there for a while, not really sure how to proceed.
‘You want to come in and have a drink or something? I …’ He looked at me with his blue eyes. In the light of the hallway I could take in their blueness in full glory.
‘Sure…’

He guided me back up the stairs and into his apartment, passed the bedroom all the way to the living room. It was a cozy space with a lot of windows. In the middle of the room stood a dark grey couch, looking out to the windows. In front of it was a little table scattered with magazines. A big bookshelf covered the wall on the right. On the left the room went further back then the hallway door. There was an open kitchen connected to the living room. The light coloured wooden floors gave the room a warm and inviting atmosphere.
‘Make yourself at home.’ Jack said pointing at the couch.
I sat down and all of a sudden felt quite tired. Jack opened the fridge and asked ‘What would you like? I have juice… And milk….’ He spun around ‘I also have some red wine if you want some?’
‘Maybe just a little then, it’s getting pretty late.’ The clock on the wall tried to convince me it was already 3 a.m. I couldn’t really believe it but we had left the bar around last call and spend some time getting in. Maybe the clock was right after all.  This definitely had not been my plan when I left my hotel room in search of a warmer place earlier that evening. A discussion went on in my head, do I go end get as much sleep as I can or do I stay and get to know this man a little better. My brain was supporting the first options, my heart the second. ‘I am having a good time, why go home?’ was the compromise in the end.
Tomorrow was going to be Sunday anyway, the fact that I had to finish that article, I put in a little box in my brain so it was out of the way.
‘I don’t think I own any wine glasses….’ Jack looked apologetical when he handed me a water glass full of whine.
‘What?!’ I said jokingly while taking the drink. ‘I will have to leave right now if that’s the case.’
I took a big sip to proof my point.
Jack laughed. He seemed relieved to be back in his apartment.
We talked the rest of the night away.

                                                ******************************

The sound of footsteps woke me up from a deep sleep full of weird dreams. My brain protested, just a few more minutes, a few more dreams. The footsteps again, they brought me a bit closer to the world of the conscious. I was just so comfortable… but where was I. With a lot of effort I opened one eye to realise I was in a not very familiar place. Then it all came back to me. ‘Didn’t I go home?’ I wondered to myself.
‘Good morning.’ I heared from behind me.
I lifted myself up to see Jack in his kitchen making breakfast.
‘Good morning.’ I murmured.
‘You fell asleep last night, seemed so comfortable, I didn’t want to wake you. Hope that’s okay?’
My brain was still cloudy from sleeping. I rubbed my eyes while I pulled up my shoulders. ‘Sure…’
After a few minutes I managed to get myself of the couch. Jack must have put a blanket over me last night. This thought gave me a warm feeling just above my navel.
‘What are you cooking?’ I asked while I walked over to him.
‘Just some breakfast, I still needed to thank you for your help last night.’
‘It was my pleasure.’ I gave him a big smile.
We had our eggs in silence. Not an awkward one. One of those content silences, I was pretty hungry. After finishing half of my eggs I suddenly realised I had to finish that article.
‘Shit, I really have to go!’ I said as I started to gobble down the rest of the food.
Jack looked at me funny.
‘You know, I have to finish an article, it has to be done by tomorrow and there is still a lot to do.’
‘Right, you want me to take you to your hotel or anything?’
‘No, I’ll be fine, it’s so close…’
‘Will I ever see you again?’ Jack asked looking at his eggs. He had barely touched them, just using his fork to move them around on the plate.
‘I would like that.’ I answered. He looked at me and smiled.

Walking back to the hotel, I felt surprisingly light and happy considering the short night and the many beers and wine. The piece of paper on which Jack had written his number was burning a hole in my pocket. The battery of my phone had died a long time ago so he had written his number down for me.
Back in the hotel I showered, then took my stuff to go and sit in a little coffee place down the street to do some writing. It seemed like I could not get Jack’s bright blue eyes out of my mind. I could not concentrate on my writing.

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