Find A Muse in the Masters
I wrote this for a writing challenge as follows….Choose a scenario (or invent your own) and write a poem, a short story, a vignette, a scene, or flash fiction based on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
The Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942: Public Domain
“You! Whaddaya want?” the bartender barked. “Can’t ya see I’m busy here.”
Real busy, she thought, looking at the other two customers in the place. The two men were sitting at either end of the bar wearing identical dark blue suits, ties and grey fedoras with a black band around the rim. The each nursed a mug of dark coffee. They looked like a couple of gangsters. They studiously ignored each other. Neither one had looked up when she entered the bar. She could use a drink right now, but it looked like the most exciting option here was going to be black coffee.
She slinked past them in her brand new, red silk dress. It swished becomingly around her calves and brushed against her sheer seamed stockings. Cute black heels and a patent black belt broke up the red. Her hair clashed gloriously with the dress; blue eye shadow and thick kohl eyeliner completed the look. The whole ensemble had cost her her savings. Not even a flicker from either of them. “Coffee, doll. Make it strong.” She perched next to the second suit and reapplied her fire-engine red lipstick using the back of a spoon as a compact. The curved surface allowed her to get a better peak at the man sitting on her right. She had a good view of his friend across the bar.
Her thick ceramic mug was plunked down gracelessly in front of her. “You spilled a bit doll.” The bartender glared at her until she put her coins down on the counter top. She scrambled in her purse and found some bits and pieces and slid them into the pool of coffee. The bartender wiped the spill and the coins off the bar with his rag. She carelessly lit a cigarette. “Gotta light hon?” She asked the suit.
He reached into his suit pocket and slid the metal lighter wordlessly across the bar, still not even looking in her direction. She was looking though – she now knew that he wasn’t carrying a piece. Not a gangster then, or a dick. She regarded his twin through the cigarette smoke and sipped at the strong coffee. She leaned both elbows onto the bar in a deliberately provocative gesture and exhaled slowly – the smoke curling around her lips and creating a grey halo around her red hair.
Sammy had told her to watch, take mental notes. People opened up to women. Men opened up to women dressed like her, or at least took them to a seedy motel where she would be able to go through his wallet. She didn’t like dressing like this but she liked to eat. She had been instructed to dress “nice ya know, look the part kid”. She was to sit and wait for one of them to approach her and make conversation. What happened after that was unclear, but she understood the implications.
This gig would pay her rent for the month and for some of the dress! So far she couldn’t see anything particularly note-worthy. They were just two guys having coffee late one night in “Phillies”. Neither of them seemed remotely interested in her, so there was nothing to report back on. Actually scratch that – she started making a mental list. Suit number 1: smoker, no gun, nicely manicured nails. Drank his coffee black. Slim build – the suit wore his suit well. Not the same for suit number 2: suit buttons straining a little, but hadn’t bought or been able to afford a new suit. There was a sugar bowl and milk jug next to his mug so obviously had a sweet tooth. Supported by the fact that there was a flash of gold in his mouth from having teeth filled in. She couldn’t see any point in being here. As long as she still got paid that was the main thing!
To be continued….