Draft excerpt. Late chapter. Feedback is appreciated…
Mae looked ahead, into an un-obscured patch of mirror on the wall behind the bar, between a bottle of Seagrams and a neon Rolling Rock sign. She saw a victim staring back. The reflection of herself – beaten, disoriented, weak – invoked some pathetic orphan. It angered her. She got up and went into the restroom and locked the door. She stood before the mirror staring at the stranger. She ran the faucet and dabbed her face with water. She pulled her hair back. Then she reached into her bag and took out her gloss. Wrong color. She tossed it back in and rummaged for the other, the plum. It was stronger. She heard a knock on the door. She ignored it and touched up her mascara, hardening and intensifying her eyes. She pulled at her collar, stiffening it. Finally, she straightened her posture.
She heard the knock again just before opening the door. On the other side stood a woman from a different world – shorter but broader, blotchy skin, coarse, dull, badly-died, reddish hair, cheap makeup and frumpy clothes. They looked each other in the eye, the alien sizing Mae up, looking as if she expected Mae to wilt and step aside. Mae barred the way, defiantly, a cold smirk formed in the edge of her freshened lips. They looked each other up and down, then stared at each other for several seconds. Mae wondered if this pitiable wench might have been her, in some other life, if things had gone awry. No. Of course not. No matter how sideways things might have gone, she could never evolve into the troglodyte that stood before her. Mae could never fail at life to that extent. She would have overcome; she always overcame. She found herself on that path once and remedied it, leaving her husband to save herself from the ignominy of being a hick undersheriff’s trophy wife.
Mae filled up with bravado. Her eyes fired back at the wench as if to say, “make way, prole, or I will cut your fucking throat.” The wench, a survivor herself, glanced left and right. After determining that no one was watching, she acquiesced and stepped aside. There was nothing for her to gain and too much to risk.
Mae returned to her seat at the bar to find a filled martini glass waiting at her place. The bartender returned, buffing wine glass.
“I said on the rocks not up, please.” Mae pushed the drink towards the edge for the bartender to take it.
He took the glass and scowled and waddled off to fix her another. Mae checked the mirror on the wall between the Seagrams and the sign. The person staring back was her, again. Her world was righted.