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Old 04-12-2010, 10:30 PM   #1
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Lost Highway - Chapter 2

Title: Lost Highway
Authors:1screamingangel & wo_speaking
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: None of these fine Irishmen are mine, and this is complete and utter fiction.
A/N: AU - some characters you may recognize from certain massive Irish rock bands... a bit OOC, but interesting nonetheless... Bridgeport, California is a real town just north of Bodie... sorry to anyone who might live there. The Broken Horseshoe is completely fictional. You may recognize a certain guitarist... dig out some old JT pix and tell me he wasn't pretty creepy looking at the time (yet strangely hot).

***********************************

The bar was called The Broken Horseshoe and sat at the end of the highway, a beacon of alcohol and sin to the townsfolk. Tonight, however, it was virtually empty as it was a weeknight.

Mel and Sam walked in and looked around the bar. It had definitely seen better days. They were quite surprised it had a real door on it rather than a set of swinging ones. There was no one in the place except the bartender and a lone man at the pool table, his back turned to the girls as he lined up a shot. He didn’t turn around when they entered. The entire place was in need of a good cleaning, it smelled of cigarette smoke and stale beer. Yet, it had a cozy atmosphere you could only find in a small-town drinking establishment.

There was country music coming out of the jukebox in the corner. It was the music Samantha and Mel expected to hear as they walked into the almost deserted bar. It was some old song by Ronnie Milsap. The girls grew up listening to a mixture of British invasion, country music and disco – 60s children listened to everything. 


Mel always sized up a situation before they walked into it. She had been doing that since they were old enough to go out pretending to be 18, when in fact they were only 15. Mel knew how to make a quick judgment and almost had a sense if there was trouble. More than once she was able to tell that she and Sam were in a bad situation and that they should leave. That was what she was good at.

Samantha, on the other hand, was excellent at meeting people and getting the attention of anyone when they walked into a room. She was beautiful, but her personality would light up a dark room and she knew how to use that for her advantage.

The only problem was Sam liked dangerous men. Mel had seen this over and over again. The two girls looked out for each other and Mel made it her life’s goal to keep her best friend, her sister at heart out of trouble. Sam would, in turn, introduce Mel to the most interesting men, the safer ones that she was not interested in. The two made a good team. They complimented each other perfectly – they looked out for each other.

The bartender didn’t look up when they first walked in. He was busy changing a keg and didn’t hear the door shut. As Mel felt all was ok, she and Sam walked over towards the bar and perched themselves on a couple of barstools.

Sam looked over at the man at the pool table. He wore a long black coat and a black hat – his stringy dark hair hung down from under his hat and he was in need of a shave. He wasn’t unattractive, yet just a bit unkempt, and he definitely looked dangerous – he was Sam’s type all right.
As Sam watched him, she realized that he wasn’t actually playing; he was attempting the same trick shot over and over and over again...

He looked up at her from under his hat as he rearranged the pool balls on the table, his eyes met hers and she looked away quickly. Still, she’d looked long enough to notice that had the most arresting eyes; intense, hazel pools that sent a chill down her spine. Yet there was just something about him that seemed a bit ... off.

She ran her hand through her long blonde hair and let out a deep breath, drumming her fingers on the dusty wood bar. What was it about this mysterious stranger that made her heart skip a beat? He looked like trouble, that’s what. Sam was always in the mood for some kind of trouble and tonight was no exception. It had been her idea to come on this road trip, and she definitely wanted to make it memorable. She would never think of doing it alone, wherever she went, Mel went. Mel was her voice of reason and served to keep her out of trouble ... more or less.

She stole another glance at him while he wasn’t looking, observing the look of concentration in his eyes as he lined up the shot again, executing it perfectly for the umpteenth time. What was the use in practicing if you always got it right?

When the bartender finally got done with the keg and looked at Mel with his piercing blue eyes, she had a slight flutter in her belly. He was the cutest bartender she had seen in a long time, and Mel had a thing for cute bartenders. It’s not that he was gorgeously handsome, but he had a way about him that spoke confidence in himself that made him all the more attractive. And he had the cutest smile.

He walked over to them and when Mel saw him glance quickly at Sam and then back to her she felt relieved. There were many times a man would look at her first, glance at Sam then not even notice her again. Mel was pretty enough and never lacked male attention; it was just some men absolutely loved Sam the moment they set their eyes on her. Mel knew better than to hope for a man who had eyes for her best friend.

Mel asked what beer he might have on draft in this fine establishment. He laughed softly and mentioned the usual domestic American beers a girl could find anywhere. He had a soft accent that she couldn’t quite place. She would need to talk to him more to find out where he was from. Because she was sure he wasn’t from around these small town parts.

He brought the two beers back, placed one absently in front of Sam and the other directly in front of Mel, locking eyes with her. He slowly ran his hand through his reddish brown shoulder length hair. Mel felt that flutter in the pit of her stomach again.

“What are you two ladies doing in a place like this?” he asked charmingly.

“Just headed to Vegas to see about getting some work.” Mel answered. She could feel Sam looking at her out of the corner of her eye. “So, what kind of food do you serve here?”

The bartender handed her two menus and left to get the guy in the long black coat another whiskey.

Sam jumped right on Mel. “I think the bartender has a thing for you. And he is cute, Mel.”

“Sam, we are in a small town in the middle of absolutely no where. No one who loves us knows where we are. Do you really think picking up a couple of guys in a place like this is a good idea? I see you eyeing that guy over at the pool table. He needs a shave in case you didn’t notice.”

“Oh, I noticed, Mel. Don’t you worry, I noticed.” Sam threw her head back and laughed. “What accent is that the bartender has? Did you get his name?”

“God girl, give me a chance to drink and order some food,” Mel whispered as the bartender came back over.

“My friend over there would like to buy you ladies a drink.” This time he was looking at Sam. So the creepy black coat guy had an instant attraction to Sam. This might not be good. But, Mel thought, we can have a little fun. Where had she heard that accent before?

Sam and Mel ordered dinner and two more beers. Mel eyed the bartender the whole time and more than once he caught her checking him out. Poor guy was probably starved for female attention out here.

She liked his earring and she couldn’t keep her eyes off of him. Mel had a thing for guys with long hair and hoop earrings. And those blue eyes of his just seemed to look right into her, it almost made her uncomfortable but mostly got her to thinking how that hair would feel intertwined in her fingers.

Studying his profile as he was making their sandwiches, she thought his nose was a little big but that didn’t matter, she wasn’t quite that shallow. Just as she shrugged her shoulders at that thought he turned to look at her. As he smiled a slight devilish little grin she noticed how the amazing dimple on his chin was set perfectly under his well sculpted lips. Mel was definitely not as concerned about safety as perhaps she should have been at this moment. She held his gaze to make sure he had some idea of what she was thinking.

By the end of the second beer Mel was able to keep the bartender in front of her talking.

“How long you stayin’ here …what’s your name darlin’?” he asked her.

“Melody, my friends call me Mel. What’s your name, Mr. Bartender?” she asked.

“Paul. And this is actually my bar now, so I guess I’m more than the bartender. I own this lovely place.”

“English?” Sam piped in.

He didn’t take his eyes off of Mel and gave Sam an “Aye” as an answer.

“Melody. That’s a beautiful name. Parents into music?” Paul asked her.

“Yep, parents are quantifiable California, granola eating, vegetarian hippies.” They all laughed. “Grew up listening to The Beatles, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Strange combination, but makes for interesting conversation.”

“So, Paul, tell me what a boy from way across the water there is doing in this small little town running a bar?” And since it had just occurred to her where she had heard that accent before, she also blurted out, “Irish, right?” Her dad had several English friends and a couple of Irish ones too. He was trying to sound American, that’s why she couldn’t guess at first.

“Aye, you are correct Mel. Can I get you ladies another beer?” as he walked away. He didn’t come back over to them for awhile.

Mel was wondering why this ‘Paul the Saloon owner’ looked a bit familiar to her. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she had seen him somewhere before. No, she thought to herself, he just had one of those faces that looked like he was someone else. This would happen to her sometimes when she would meet a new person. Mel had spent too many days listening to her parents talk about Karma and old souls and all that kind of stuff that goes along with being raised in a commune in San Francisco. How could she not remember meeting a delicious morsel like this one before?

But the odd guy playing pool was edging his way over to them, moving ever so slowly from one barstool to the next. He thought they wouldn’t notice. He couldn’t help it. The blond haired girl was gorgeous and he could not take his eyes off of her. Her friend was ok and he could feel her checking him out too, but in an ‘I will watch out for my friend’ kind of way. That was usually the look he got from women.

Mel forgot for a moment about Paul and focused on the black coat guy. She thought he needed a shave and a haircut, which was a lot coming from her. Until she went to high school, she didn’t even realize men wore short hair. His clothes were not dirty and she was glad because when he was farther away she was sure he was pretty gross.

Sam liked dangerous men, but had standards. She once dated the son of a very wealthy car dealer. Ricky loved to do all of the dangerous things boys of 19 did. Drive fast cars, sleep with as many women as possible, and he did drugs. Sam would walk away from the whole drug thing. She had seen drugs ruin her older brother and never wanted to have anything to do with them.

Sam glanced over and noticed her mysterious stranger whisper in a low voice to the bartender. There was now only one barstool between them. She caught his eye and gave him a crooked smile, hoping he would give her one back. Nothing. She wasn’t used to this at all.

Paul walked to the back and brought out a brand new bottle of top shelf whiskey. He smirked to himself as he blew the dust off the bottle. This was definitely the good stuff. He cracked it open and poured a shot, sliding it over to Sam.

“This is from your friend over there,” he said. Sam glanced at her suitor out of the corner of her eye and he tipped his hat to her.

Yes, she thought. I’m finally getting somewhere here.

All evening the creepy guy had moved closer and was able to listen to the conversation Sam and Mel were having. He still didn’t say a word to Sam though, and she wished he would sit right next to her already – she wanted to know what he smelled like. They talked about leaving first thing in the morning, how far they would get on their travels the next day, when they might pull into Vegas. The girls sat and rehashed their journey so far. It was what they had done each night of their trip since crossing the Bay Bridge and heading for freedom and new adventure.

“You girls staying over at Hester’s tonight?” Paul asked as he brought them another round.

“We are. How did you guess where we’d be staying?” Samantha answered just to see if he would look at her. Apparently he only had eyes for Mel, as he did not even acknowledge her question. Sam laughed. He wasn’t trouble anyway, he was Mel’s type all right. He couldn’t even be bothered looking at her. Oh well, she thought, I like the weird guy anyway.

“I’m staying there too, guess we will be neighbors tonight,” he said, giving the little devil smile to Mel again.

“Can’t find a place of your own in this burgeoning metropolis?” Mel asked him back.

“Haven’t been here that long. At first I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay, didn’t really intend on buying this little place.” Paul moved very close to Mel and she could smell the beer on his breath as he lowered his voice and said, “I think I won the right to buy it in a poker game over there in the corner the first night I was here. The rest is history, I guess. ” He touched her bare shoulder lightly before stepping back. Mel felt a bolt of electricity run through her.

Paul had been right about her. Mel did smell like perfume. Her long curly brown hair tied back let him see her beautiful white shoulders that he could not keep his eyes from.

Even after a day on the road, she was beautiful and she smelled good. I might stay here forever, he thought to himself, if girls like this one passed through on a regular basis. He doubted this the moment he said it. That wasn’t ever going to happen here. He knew he would move on to something else in the not too distant future.

Mel, he thought about how he was going to play this situation. It was going to be an opportunity and he was good at taking advantage of the opportunities he was presented with in life. His friends would always tell him he lived a charmed life and he knew they were right. Especially when it came to jobs and women. So he was just going to roll with this and see where it would take him. He had a good feeling he knew where he would get to tonight.

At some point during the evening, creepy guy, as Mel and Sam were calling him continued to buy drinks for Samantha and not Mel. No matter, this just lended to his oddness. The funny thing to the other three people in the bar was that he didn’t actually ever speak to Sam. Usually after two drinks, a man would find the courage to approach her, even if he had that stupid ‘I can’t possibly talk to this beautiful woman’ look on his face. This one didn’t have that look at all though and that in itself worried Mel a tiny bit.

Sam was worried because the more she drank and checked this guy out the more curious she became about him. She thought he might be some fun to have a wild night with. The more she looked at him the more she thought his black coat was kind of sexy. He had taken to staring at her from underneath his black Stetson hat and she could feel his eyes on her.

She shivered. For a brief moment she imagined how his stubble would feel against her cheek ... or against her thigh ...

Mmm. This next drink was going to be her last one or she’d end up doing something she would very likely regret in the morning.

It got to be near closing time and Paul asked the girls if they wanted another round. Sam did, Mel didn’t. She was the one driving out first thing in the morning. The longer they sat there, she knew it would not be at the break of dawn.

Mel absolutely could not keep her eyes from the rosary Paul seemed to be wearing and the fact that every time he moved his shirt would open a bit and she could see it. Mel and Paul would not have been surprised that they were thinking very similar thoughts about where this might be going.

At 12:43, creepy guy ordered a final shot of whiskey, downed it and walked over to the pool table, retrieving a beat up old guitar case leaning against the wall. He walked out of the bar at 12:50am. Sam was having a very hard time believing this guy actually left the bar without even talking to her.

“He a friend of yours Paul?” Mel asked seeing the absolute indignation on her friends face.

“Not really. He comes in here every night and does pretty much the same things. Always has 4 whiskeys, always shoots the same game of pool, always gets up and leaves at exactly the same time every night, and always carries around that guitar,” Paul told the girls. “He’s a few bricks short of a load if you ask me, but maybe he’s just a bit too fond of the jar ...”

“Does he ever play that guitar?” Sam asked. The thought that he could play the guitar was even more of a turn on to her, if she ever saw him again that was.

“I’ve never seen him play it,” Paul laughed. “It’s probably all for show. I will tell you that I’ve never seen him buy a drink for anyone though, let alone my best whiskey. I think he quite fancied you, love.”

Sam blushed. Why the hell did he just walk out on her then?

“Guess you’re wanting to close now? Seems we are the only ones here. We’ll be heading down the street now.” Mel said slowly.

“If you’ll wait a second, I’ll walk down the street with you to the hotel,” was Paul’s response.

Sam and Mel waited just a moment for Paul to turn the jukebox and lights off. They all set out down the street. Mel noticed him grab the bottle of fine whiskey as he walked out the door and turned the key in the lock.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:57 PM   #2
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Ok, I'll leave my comment for both here on the second one...



You guys have reeled me in with 1) Bono 2) My favoritest era!
Can't tell it's two people writing this...very well done, I love it already
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:02 PM   #3
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OK SA... just for you..... chapter 3 on the way
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:45 AM   #4
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I'm guessing...Edge? But he and Bono both do the hat thing.

My first instinct about the bartender was that it was Bono...but why would that be happening OF COURSE IT'S BONO!

This is far too engrossing.
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