Black and White and Read All Over.
The sounds she makes reminds me of a gargling duck. She sucks back her umpteenth Jell-O shot and signals the bartender for another.
“It’s discrim…mini…mation,” she racially slurs, “pure and simpuuull,”
The bar’s last shipment of Dr. Pepper was older than dirt and flatter than piss on a plate. I like my mixed drinks good and bubbly. I push the Pap Smear away, order a bottled beer and eye the room, looking for more upbeat company.
JA’s place is subdued. A few regulars, a few strangers, a few you-look-familiars. Erik is shooting stick, but occasionally stops to write dirty haiku on placemats. There was a bit of action earlier when Bonnie’s pastor showed up and, yet again, dragged her out. Her nails left eight jagged, parallel gouges in the linoleum.
Jell-O chick taps my arm with the back of her hand. “I’ma good writer, y’know. I don’t need no specshull sectshun.”
“I know.” What else can I say? She doesn’t want an argument. She wants to blame society.
She searches the containers for dregs of vodka-laden jello and comes up empty. I push my discarded drink her way and she accepts it with a lopsided grin. “Thanks bubba. Yer okay.”
“People can be so cold, yanno?”
“So I spell things a liddle differently. So I’m not from here…” She lurches back, grasps my arm and steadies herself. “I can still write a from anudder’s perspective, right? Right?”
“But they put me in a specshull sectshun. I’m a romance writer, dammit! Why should it matter if I’m Canadian too?” She drains the glass. “American? Canadian? We all love the same, right?”
“You write romance?” I push her hand off my arm.
The bar, once only subdued, now deafens with its silence. The bartender saunters over, the revulsion plain on his face. “Is this love-stuck Canuck bothering you?”
I nod. He forcibly escorts her to the door and tosses her out. She protests that she’s querying Harlequin’s Intrigue line, but everyone here knows that’s not the same as a real mystery.
The sign tacked over the door is plainly worded:
NO romance writers.
The bartender replaces my beer and tells me it’s on the house. A voice from the back pipes up. “Why is it there is always one who thinks they are the exception to the rule?”
The beer tastes like making love in a canoe and I can’t stomach anymore of it. I put on my hat. Go home. Toss my shirt in the hamper. Shower.
But I still feel dirty.