Story Piece written by Joshuan Watanabe

'Victoria's Secret Revelead: Bar and Grill' was quite deserted for a saturday night. There were only a few customers sitting at the oak bar, on the deep vermillion coloured seats of the also oak bar stools. Through the transparent clouds the little smoke of cigars and cigarettes produced, Maria, while she was drying some glasses, could watch the other clients that had taken place at the retro corner seats she loved the minute she went to find and buy some for her club.
She chuckled while she thought about her trip to the furniture business, accompanied by Renzo, who could not keep his hands off of her that day and who kept throwing her in the many different seats they passed, attempting to tickle her whenever he could. And then she had decided on trying out two different sorts of bar stools. The shop manager was being very generous after she gave him an advance and she was allowed to bring the bar stools over to the almost finished place to see which one she would like best. Renzo had kept drumming on the counter and he had clearly been annoyed by the amount of time that had passed already. But she had promised him he could come over to her place for dinner afterwards. So instead of being a real pain - which surely was one of his flaws, but then again, Maria thought it was just really cute as well - he went along quietly, without grumbling about it. But by the time they got to her apart, after dropping off the stools, he just sat down in one of her very comfortable sofas without saying anything. And when she got back from the kitchen to put everything in place for dinner, he was already snoring. Maria figured the poor guy must have been exhausted after carrying the two - now that she thought about it - rather heavy bar stools over for a two miles walk from the furniture business to Victoria's. But then again, he insisted on being the gentleman and instead of calling a cab or something that could drive them, he wanted to show off his strong manly powers.
Maria chuckled once again.
'Men...' She thought and she shook her head. 'Always showing off...'
The music in the club was filling the place with pleasant hip hop beats, though nobody was dancing or moving, except for two girls from the bank party that obviously could not keep still, but probably did not have the courage to get up and dance all by themselves. Maybe they were not drunk enough already, Maria thought. One of her regular customers - people from town liked to call him Fat Chad because of his loaded wallet and his considerable waist size - threw some banknotes on the bar and mumbled something that sounded like 'good night'. Fat Chad never spoke much, but he always gave her a big tip.
'Thanks for the tip, Chad!' she called after him when she counted the money. And as he slammed the door shut behind him, a smile spread across her face. Thirty dollars... That would buy her that cute shirt she saw at her favorite clothing shop that afternoon.
A low baritone suddenly sounded as if emerging from the smoky void.
'Seems like Fat Chad is liking you a lot more than he's willing to admit.'
'What do you mean?' Maria answered puzzled, turning to the source of the voice, holding three banknotes in front of her.
'What is this?' he watched the notes and moved over to fumble them between his fingers to get a better look at the numbers on them. 'What did you have to do to get thirty bucks as a bartip? Give the guy a blowj-'
'Renzo!' she rebuked him for his flamable temper, but then went on playfully. 'Stop fooling around. I hate it when you behave like this.' She slowly stowed the notes into her bosom.
He sat back on his stool shaking his head in despair and took a gulp from his beer.
'I hate it when guys come on to you-'
'He wasn't coming on to me! It's just a tip, for Christ's sake. He's a regular, he just enjoys coming here!'
'I saw him glancing and staring at you...'
Maria rolled her eyes.
'I still think he was coming on to-'
'Alright, alright.' He took another swig, catching her eyes with his stunningly deep blue ones and chuckling devilishly.
'Miss?' A man from the corner seats was coming over to the bar, holding his hand in the air.
'Right away...' She dropped her drying towel, grabbed her notebook and rushed over to the party of six. Seconds later she came back, immediately starting to tap beer.
'People just love my Belgian imported beer, don't they?' she grinned.
'Or what?'
'Or they come here because of you!'
'Gosh! You are so unbelievable!' She spat some of the spilled beer that was on her hands to him and then quickly ran off with the order for her customers, before he could get back at her. When she got back with some empty glasses, he was watching the television that was in the right corner of the bar, broadcasting some American football game.
'Want to go to the Twilight Zone tomorrow evening?' he asked quietly, his eyes still focussed on the television.
'Sure, why not?' she tried to say casually, though she had been waiting for him to ask her out all day long. 'Jim and Alyssa will keep the bar open.'
'Yeah, where did they go tonight?' Renzo wondered.
'Some party over at Main Street.'
'Oh, right. I've heard about that one.'
'How come you weren't going?' Maria asked curiously. She knew how much he liked to party on a normal Saturday night.
'I don't know... Guess I didn't really felt like partying,' he said seriously, but then added, '... without you.'
Maria did not really know how to react to what Renzo had added. Instead of facing him and once again telling him to stop the game, she turned around and cleaned the bar with a wet sponge. Her mind was swirling with thoughts. She knew he was glancing at her to see her reaction to what he had just said. But what was he thinking? One moment he would come on to her so desperately as if he would die without her attention. But the next moment he would push her away as if she was some annoying bug. She could easily tell him to leave her alone, like she did with lots of other guys that flirted with her, but she had to admit to herself that she liked the game Renzo and she were playing. Of course the thought of confronting him had crossed her mind, but she did not really want to risk loosing the relation they had right now. How she wished she could read his mind...
'Maria, can I get another beer?' Startled, she briskly turned around.
'Sure...' She took the empty glass that was in front of him, all the while carefully avoiding looking into his eyes, and pushed it in the waterfilled sink.
The entrance door opened while she was tapping him a fresh beer. Maria looked up shortly and saw two men moving over to the bar. While she put the beer in front of Renzo with a thud, she recognized one of them.
'Goodness! Look who we have here!' She bent over the bar and kissed the cheek of the man, inhaling his very manly after-shave. 'Hi Kenji, how are you?'
'Fine. Thanks, sweetie,' Kenji smiled.
'How's Sabi?'
'She's still at the party at Main Street. But Fuma here,' he waved at the other man that was standing next to him, 'he wanted to get away from the crowded place and where else would we go besides Victoria's?'
'That's sweet!' Maria giggled and then allowed her self to get a better look at the man called Fuma. He was a real pleasure to look at. His handsome face showed lightbrown seductive eyes that were partly hidden behind dark locks of hair. He elegantly shook the hair out of his eyes and without hesitation he took the hand she had placed on the bar.
'Pleasure to meet you, Maria.' He bent his head and kissed her hand which felt like a feather touching her softly. She blushed.
'Hello,' she managed to stammer slowly. 'Fuma, is it, right?'
'Most true.' He winked at her and only then let go of her hand.
'So,' Kenji started, after noticing the way Maria did not really know how to behave, 'give us two whisky-cola's if you'd be so kind, Maria.'
'Right,' she said, fully recovering and turning on her heels so quickly she almost felt dizzy. She got passed Renzo who looked at every of her movements while she reached for the whisky and started mixing it with some cola. She felt his staring look and caught his eyes. Strangely enough, they were different from any other look she had ever seen on his face.
'Show-off,' he mumbled loud enough for her to hear.
Maria cast him a meaningful look and took Kenji and Fuma their drinks. They had looked around the place and found themselves a place near the bar at a round high table with a few bar stools around them.
'What's a beautiful young woman like you doing in a place like this?' Fuma said as he pulled out his wallet and paid her.
'It's my place,' she said.
'Your place?' he said moving closer to her and looking her straight in the eyes as she gave him the change. Maria blushed again.
'She owns the club, Fuma. Didn't I tell you that like a hundred times before? Now give it a rest and stop flirting.' Kenji smiled at Maria and shook his head.
Fuma chuckled. 'It's a nice place, Maria,' he said kindly, never stopping to look her into the eyes.
'Maria?' She felt Renzo's eyes focussed on her back.
'Thanks,' she said, smiling at him and taking off with a frivolous flair. Hopping back behind her bar she hummed until she reached Renzo. He was nervously shifting on his stool.
'Yeah? What does Mr. Renzo want?'
'Why, your spirits really lifted!'
'Yes, they did. What do you want?'
'Who are those guys?'
'You know Kenji! He's Sabi's boyfriend. Remember?'
'Yeah, yeah, yeah... Who's the other one?'
'His friend.'
'What a-'
'Listen, Renzo, I don't know why you ask me all of this, but can you please order?'
'Maria!' He protested looking rather shocked.
'I'm...' he looked at her with big cute blue eyes. 'I'm... I'd like to have some whiskey. Pure.'
'One whiskey coming up!' She took the bottle and a glass and poured the liquid in front of him.
'We're still going out tomorrow, aren't we?'
''Course we are!' She looked at him appaled. 'You're not changing your mind, right?'
'No, no!' he prompted.
'Okay then!' She saw a man of the party at the corner seats raise his hand to get her attention and excused herself to Renzo. She had never seen him like this. He was usually the one that always was determined in what he did or said. But these last minutes he had changed. There was something about him that made her feel bad for him. And then it suddenly struck her! Renzo was jealous. While she walked back from the party after taking their orders, a smile spread across her pretty face and her light blue eyes showed sparkling lights. Renzo was jealous? That must mean he really cares for her. Right? She liked the idea of Renzo being jealous and decided to play along and pretend she did not notice his strange behaviour. He was drumming on the bar with two fingers, something he hated and rebuked other people for. The whiskey she poured him only a few minutes before had already found a way down his throat, and he was occasionally glancing over at the table Kenji and Fuma were sitting at. Maria had never seen him being so innocently cute, as if he was a little boy waiting for his toy to be returned after begin told to let another boy play with it.
'Well...' he mumbled.
'Well what, Renzo?' Maria asked him.
'Maybe I'd better go...'
'Oh, okay,' Maria could not help but feel disappointed.
'I'll pick you up tomorrow at seven, okay?'
'Don't be late.'
Renzo seemed to tarry and search for words.
'You... You know that I like you, don't you?' He said trying to catch her eyes.
'Yeah, I know that you like me,' Maria said, refusing to look up and without thinking she added, 'and you know that I want more...'
'Right...' Renzo looked the other way.
He groped into his pockets to find some money and put it on the bar.
'Keep the change.'
'Thanks,' Maria said and gave him a sincere smile, which faded quickly as she saw how miserable he looked.
She turned aside and suddenly found Fuma standing in front of her.
'Maria,' he said, while Renzo was still near and who abruptly paused on his way to leave. 'I was wondering... how long before closing time?'
'Err... I suppose there's not many people to step in here tonight, so I figured I'd close in about an hour.'
'Excellent! Care to join me and Kenji back to the party at Main Street afterwards?'
'Sure!' Maria said happily.
'The hell she will!' Renzo abruptly turned around and stormed right at Fuma.
And before Maria really realized what happened his fists had found its way up to Fuma's left eye, also hitting his nose. Fuma stumbled backwards and Kenji rushed over to hold Renzo away from his friend.
'Renzo!' Maria shouted while she hurried over to Fuma. 'What was that for?'
'Forget it! I don't want to hear your excuses! Get out of here!'
'Maria!' He brought out indignantly.
'Get the hell out of here!' She screamed at him.
Kenji let go of him and with a furious glare at all of them he stamped his way out of Victoria's.
Maria led Fuma to a bar stool and helped him sit down.
'I'm terribly sorry, Fuma!' She said while she reached over the bar to grab a few tissues to clean up the blood on his face.
'Here. Push it against your nose to stop the bleeding!'
'Thanks,' he said looking rather insulted by the whole thing.
Maria felt extremely embarrassed.
'It's all my fault, I should've-'
'It's not your fault,' Fuma interrupted, noticing he probably got to her with his expression. He tried to laugh, but it hurt even more and caused him to wince.
'Oh, dear...' Maria said softly while gently tapping his nose with clean tissues.
'I'm okay, I'm okay...'
'You're such a wimp,' Kenji sniggered.
Fuma chose to ignore him and looked Maria right in the eyes.
'I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked you. I didn't know you were dating that guy...'
'Well, he's not exactly my boyfriend...'
'He certainly acted like he was,' Kenji intervened, having the biggest problem not to laugh.
'You think this is funny, do you?' Fuma glared at him.
Maria caught Kenji's eyes and seeing him she could not help but grin. Fuma stared at her and when she noticed she quickly got rid of it and cleared her throat.
'He just likes me...' She flushed.
Fuma watched her searchingly and then unexpectedly touched her chin to force her to look him straight in the eyes. Maria blinked.
'He likes you,' he started while smiling and now looking meaningful into her eyes, '... but you need someone to love you, don't you?'