By: Dawn DeBraal

That damned song again on the jukebox. Couldn't the woman play anything else? When it ended, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was the song that played, well before. I watched the bleached blond in the spiked heels cross the bar and drop a few more coins in the colorful machine. She had played the song again. Everyone in the bar moaned, and the bartender pushed the button under the counter, which moved the player to the next song.

"Hey, I paid for that song," she called out from the table she shared with several men who ignored her protests and continued to play poker. By the money, on the table, it was high stakes.

"Shut up and sit down, Sylvie," said the guy in a red plaid shirt.

Sylvie, short for Sylvia? I wondered. My Sylvia was blond too, but not so rough around the edges. She was a true American beauty with blue eyes and red lips. Her hair came down to her waist, and she wasn't a bottle job like this one. I could see her dark roots. The carpet probably didn't match the drapes, not like my Sylvia, she was real. The woman's quarter ran out, she hopped up from the table and plugged the machine again.

"Your Cheatin' Heart…" moaned out from the jukebox. The whole bar complained. Again, the bartender pushed the button and skipped the song. Everyone applauded. Sylvie complained. The barkeep handed her a quarter and told her not to play F17 again, or she was out on her keyster. Her lips pouted as she wobbled to the table, sitting in a huff. She pulled a cigarette out of her purse and lit up.

"Sorry, Ma'am, you can't smoke in here, State Statute," the bartender said. Sylvie stood up in a huff and worked her way out the front door. I watched her in silence and contemplation. I paid my bar bill and left.

Sylvie was hanging off the end of the porch blowing the smoke out into the street.

"They treated you kind of bad in there, I'm sorry." I don't know why I wanted to talk to her. I just had to hear her voice not being whiny. There had to be something redeeming about this obnoxious woman.

"It's alright. I'm used to that sort of thing. Men are always treating me badly. Even my own father." She flicked her cigarette, blowing the smoke out.

I felt it in my heart, hearing Sylvia's voice again. The way she had that accent on the word Father. She said Fatha, just like a New Englander would say it. Just like my Sylvia. It warmed my heart to hear her say it. I kept asking questions; she kept answering. She lit up another cigarette.

"You shouldn't smoke so much. It'll kill you." I told her. She looked at me with dark eyes that had nothing but hatred in them.

Just like my Sylvia, before I choked her. The memory still haunts me.

The End


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