Oakland On A Foggy Night

"Scotch, and soda...no ice."
"Any particular brand?"
"No...doesn't matter...make it a double while you're at it."
She was pretty...young...maybe thirty...nice legs...I noticed as she returned to the bar.
As she prepared the drink, she asked: "Music?"
"Okay." I said.
"Perfect!" I thought to myself as the haunting melody filled the dark, empty place...I was the only patron.
I reached down into the pocket of the coat, and extracted my cigarettes, and lighter...took out a cigarette, threw the pack on the table, and lit the thing, throwing the lighter onto the table. I had taken a carton of Turkish cigarettes along with me for the trip...a gift from a Third Mate who made his home in Turkey. Blew the smoke up towards the overhead...disappearing into the darkness.
She returned with the order..."Nice selection." I said.
"My favorite...it's a movie theme...forget from which."
"Aha." I said.
"Where's everybody?" I asked.
"Slow night tonight...guess it's the fog." she said, turned, and returned to behind the bar.
It was around eight o'clock...I had finished dinner in a nice place a few blocks away...didn't drink anything with dinner except coffee, figuring I'd find a quiet bar in which to close out the evening...but not this quiet.
It was down a narrow street, like a mews...lined with lofts of a sort...apartments probably...not a light on in any window. The only light beside the sparsely placed street lamps being the one over the doors to the bar, which in neon spelled: "Bar". Large, double, dark painted doors with two small windows...one on each side of the door...maybe three-feet square with dimly lit neon beverage signs.
It had been some time since my last time in California, and that was Richmond...this was Oakland...I arrived in the afternoon. I booked myself into a small, but nice motel not far from this bar...I expected a ship the next day.
Never particularly liked waiting for ships...liked to just board on arrival. However, I did enjoy walking, and sightseeing...even in fog...like it was this evening...foggy like it can get in London. Whatever, when I entered this place through those large dark colored doors, the fog followed me in for a few steps...which was eerie since it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the dark interior.
Little red glass globes with netting around them, and a small candle for light adorned the dozen, or so small round tables that made up the place. The floor was bare...wood planking...old. The walls were sparcely adorned with hung paintings, or pictures, and some ship models...which I could barely make out in the darkness. Old fashioned paddle fans hung from the beamed overhead...hardly noticable...still...quiet...not turning. The bar was long...along one wall, with faded mirrors...bottles of different liquors lined up like all bars have.
She sat there behind the dark bar facing the two dark doors...quietly...not saying a word...seemingly in deep thought. Strangely, she seemed to radiate...stand out inspite of being in darkness. A beautiful profile...lovely long straight dark brown hair down to her shoulders...slightly flared up at the ends...very neat. She had on what looked like an off-the-shoulder knee-length gown...black.
If I weren't alone, was with someone, or if there were others in the place I may not have noticed her, but she was the only living soul beside me in the place. I sat facing her...two tables away from the bar, which really put me as far from the bar as possible in this small, maybe thirty by thirty foot room.
I sat slouched back in the chair...legs out straight...facing the entrance...the two dark doors...my right arm on the table...the cold glass in my hand. I had taken my hat off...I wore a fedora in those days, but not my coat, which was a rain-proof trench coat...like reporters wear.
"Where is everybody?" I thought to myself..."This is very unusual!"
I could easily swap views from doors to her just by moving my eyes...which I did quite often...though never did she look my way.
I thought that maybe this was a contest...a game...see who speaks first...is it necessary to always chat...talk...exchange nonsense?
Maybe not...it should be interesting...nice for a change.
The music stopped...it had played through several times...she must have a feature that can set the number of times a selection plays. Whatever, at the moment it had stopped, she looked my way smiling and asked: "Again?"
I nodded "Yes". Then noticing I had finished my drink, she asked: "Another?". I nodded "Yes".  
I hardly remember drinking it...was I in some kind of trance? It was good...I remember that...I should ask her what brand it was. She busied herself fixing another as the theme returned. That theme, that music, was it that which kept us in silence? She said it was her favorite...was it because it put her in another place, another time? I seemed to enjoy it myself...it was mesmerizing.
She came around from behind the bar, the drink on a small tray...a bar towle draped on her forearm. I studied her fully this time...the dress, simple, soft looking...fitted her figure perfectly...it was knee length. She wore black sling back pumps...ordinary, but had a strap that crossed the instep...no stockings...perfect ankles...lovely limbs...slightly tanned.
I looked up into her face as she got closer...she was smiling...her teeth perfect...eyes brown...brown eyebrows...dark lashes, artful eye make-up, dark red lipstick on full lips...beautiful girl...woman.
I broke the silence: "Nice drink!...what's the brand?" I asked.
"Your favorite...Chivas...it's on me." she said. I was going to ask how she knew, but didn't...instead just said: "Thank you...that's nice of you." 
She placed the empty glass onto the tray...the damp coaster too along with the ash tray, and using the towle dried up the condensate that remained. So close...her perfume was so light...so fresh...like flowers I couldn't place. I left my slouching position, and sat back in the chair...feet under the table.
Bending over, she put the new drink on the table with a fresh coaster under it, an empty ash tray, and stood up. She was tall...tall in the sense taller than average...maybe five-eight, or nine.
I wanted to talk to this creature...not only that, I wanted this creature, but not in the carnal sense...for a moment I sensed her as a missing part of me...the part that would complete me. Just being close like she was made me feel so...complete. It wasn't nonsense...it was so plausible...never felt this way before.
It had to be the drink...and that haunting melody, or theme. The indiscernable surroundings...the darkness...the fog. Just she, and I...alone.
Then, so coincidental with my thoughts: "Do you like the fog?" she asked.
"Fog?" I asked...then: "Fog?...ashore yes...fog's alright ashore." I said.
"Not at sea though." she said. "Not at sea though." I thought to myself. "That's strange for her to say."
"No...not at sea. I'm joining a ship in the morning...I hope it lifts." I said.
I wished I hadn't said that. Wished I hadn't said I was joining a ship. Wished I hadn't mentioned hoping it would lift...fog wasn't an issue any more anyways, what with radar. Didn't want to get personal...was sorry the silence was broken. Since it was, it was time to join the real world.
"Can I buy you a drink?...doesn't seem to be too busy around here."
"Sure...thank you." she said.
"Great!...maybe you can join me then...at least until someone comes in." I said.
"There won't be any more tonight." she said as she turned, and returned to the bar to fix herself a drink.
Strange again...how'd she know there wouldn't be anymore people in? 
"Okay" I thought to myself..."...back to your old normal self."
For the moment I snapped out of the funk I was in with this dopey "silence" game. As a seaman of many years at the time, though I never purposefully went looking for female companionship when away from home, the door was always open if perchance one got "close".
Most of my time in port was spent with the guys in bars, or walking...I loved to walk, and explore ashore...sightsee. Never frequented "houses of ill repute" so to speak. Mostly I walked alone...few could keep up with me...or they found bars more interesting. Women I'd meet were part of groups...usually always introduced to me...with someone. 
I was lost in my thoughts when there she was, drink in hand..."Sit down, sit down." I said as I got up to pull the chair out that faced the doors for her.
She set her drink down, and sat, angling the chair so it faced me somewhat. She crossed her legs...the "gown/dresss" covering her knees just a bit.
"What are you drinking?" I asked.
"The same as you...our favorite." she responded.
"Our favorite theme, our favorite drink." I thought to myself.
"We seem to have at least two things in common...the music, and Chivas" I said...laughing.
"Yes...seems so." she said.
"So...now you know I'm catching a ship...how do you know there won't be anymore customers tonight?" I asked.
"There won't...I know." she said...continuing: "I also know you won't be back tomorrow."
"What if the ship doesn't sail...I could be back." I said.
"You won't be back...even if it doesn't sail...which it won't...it will the next day." she said.
"Okay, okay...this is some weird." I thought to myself. "I'll wake up shortly...but not yet...it's kind of spooky, but enchanting."
I looked at her...she was smiling...smiling like how little I knew. She took my hand from off my glass, pulling my hand towards her, and covering it with hers. It was soft, and warm, and comforting. Through the touch came an all encompassing sublime feeling of completeness...the "all in all"...male, and female in one...subdued unto perfection...the perfect creature...isn't God supposed to be both male, and female?
I was held captive by her eyes, her touch...a beautiful form...perfect in every way...her voice so clear...melodious. "We have spent many hours together." she said...continuing: "Those beautiful, but lonesome hours on calm seas during beautiful sunsets. Do you now remember?"
I squinched my eyes for a better focus...strained to remember fantasies...they came, and went...life is full of fantasies...thousands spread over time especially for seamen...pacing the bridge, or the deck outside my cabin. Fantasies while pacing cold train, or bus platforms, or sitting in mostly empty airline terminals in the wee hours of the morning.
"Yes." I said...continuing: "I remember, oh how I remember...that was you?"
"Yes...that was me...your perfect invention...everything you ever wanted in a companion." she said.
It was true...not that I imagined such a creature either...I would see her on occasion on the seven-ten out of Huntington for New York. Lovely thing, quiet...standing, like myself and others when the train was packed. Never got close to her...not close enough to say hello...but probably in those days would be too shy to. Anyways, she looked shy too...hardly ever looked up. On a few occasions I'd spot her waiting for the train in Penn Station...always in a crowd though.
No...she was no imagination...I'd spot her every so often over the few months I worked ashore in Manhattan...a temporary office job between ships.
I began to say: "The girl in..." when she said: "Penn Station."
"Yes." I said: continuing: "...that was thirty years ago, or more."
"Yes." she said.
"You look the same...now I remember...you haven't changed."
"No...would you want me to have." she asked.
"Tripoli some years later...you had the gangway watch..." she began to say.
"Yes...you were..." I began to say....
"Standing alone on the dock...our eyes met." she said.
I reached for my drink...it was empty...that was two doubles, though I didn't feel a thing...totally sober.
"Want another." she asked.
"Yes...please...you were...it was hot, but calm...you the only one on the dock...it was large, open area...almost like a parade ground." I said. An hour previous it was packed with passengers waiting to board.
She released my hand, and stood, then leaning over me, and cradling my chin in her soft hand she looked closely into my eyes for what seemed like eternity, though only seconds, smiled, stood back and took  my glass, and hers, which also was empty to the bar.
Before returning to behind the bar she went to the two large doors, and locked them...the sound of the large latches startling me some. She then pulled down the shades to the two small windows, and turned off the neon signs in both, then the one over the doors. Back behind the bar she began refreshing the two drinks...the dim bar lighting highlighting her every move. The music kept playing over, and over, or was I imagining it.
I swallowed hard...re-adjusted myself in the chair, and said to myself: "This place is now closed!"
It also dawned on me that I was thirty-or-more-years older than this creature...or to her was I only her age? I foolishly looked about for a mirror...none...except those behind the bar. Should I get up to look...get closer to her now as she was busy. A thought occurred to me...there's a saying: "A seaman can fuck up a free meal.". How true it was...I decided to stay put. "Get up, and this parties over." I thought to myself.
I was forgetting how all impossible all this was...I surely had to be dreaming, but no...it was real alright...I tapped the wooden table...counted all the other little candle lit globes...sniffed the smokey air...it was real alright.
She came out from behind the bar carrying the two drinks, smiling...her stride like that of a cultured lady...her posture perfect. Placing the two drinks side by side in front of me. I had stood like the perfect gentleman just before she got to the table, leaving my chair back a little. She placed the chair a little further back, and ever so lightly pushed me back down into the chair, turning herself just enough around, set herself on my lap...leaning back on me...her left arm around my neck. Now taller then me, and looking straight into my eyes asked: "How's that...comfortable?".
Warm...soft...the light fabric covering her leaving nothing of consequence between us. My right forearm across her waist...her breath warm, with the fraqrance of Chivas...her hair sweet smelling.
She looked away, and took up her drink, taking a sip. I did the same using my left arm. 
The music had stopped...it had been off for a while...actually since she last got up to refresh both our drinks...now it returned.
"Who started the music." I asked.
"We did." she said.
"Oh...right." I said.
It was a bit awkward having to look up to her, but not uncomfortable...she hardly felt of any weight...just enough to be noticable. I reached for my cigarettes...she said: "Here, let me get them." removing her arm from around my neck, and sitting forward, though at an angle.
Removing two from the pack she asked: "May I?"
"Be my guest...they're Turkish...quite strong." I said.
"I know...my favorite." she said.
"Right...of course!" I said as she lit the two using my Zippo, which she flicked open, lit, and flicked closed like a pro.
Taking one from between her lips, and placing it in mine she said after she lifted her face aloft to blow a perfect smoke ring: "Where we headed for on this ship?"
"Adak...baby...Adak, Alaska!" I said.
She let out a painful "Oh"...continuing: "In March? No glassy seas, and beautiful sunsets?"
"None Sweety...it's going to be a bear."
She then, using her foot, pulled the empty chair next to us out at an angle, and put up both her feet, crossing her legs at the ankles.
"There...that's better." she said as she layed back against me...my free hand on her soft tummy.
"You'd be happy to stay like this forever...wouldn't you." she said.
"Yup!" I answered.
"So child like." she said.
"You're easy to please."
"This is your idea of heaven?"
Putting out her cigarette, she lowered her lips to mine, and kissed me.
"That's the first time we kissed." I said.
If there's supposed to be anything electric, magical, or sensuous about a kiss I can only express in the context of it fusing...melding...merging two into one.
"Are you in heaven now?" she asked.
"Yes...been there all along." I said.
The two great doors opened, the fog rolling in followed by a couple - a guy, and his gal...laughing, and then by another. I was startled by the intrusion...the long ash of my smoke falling into my lap...my empty lap...my trench coat lap. Gone was the "old" place...it wasn't old...just made to appear old...everything plastic, chrome, and styrofoam.
"Hey...hi gang!" came a female voice from behind the bar...a youngish redhead. "What'll it be.?" "The usual." came the answer from one of the guys.
I looked at my watch...it was eight-thirty...my drink almost gone. I finished it, lit another cigarette, put the pack, and lighter in my pocket, gathered up my hat, and went to the bar to pay my tab.
"Leaving so soon?" asked the red head. "Yup!" I said as I paid up.
As I opened the doors, I took a last look behind me...she wasn't there.
In the street the fog, though still there, was disturbed by a light breeze, coming, and going. It was as before chilly...clammy...damp...I pulled my collar up, my hat down tighter, and started back for the motel. I was half-way down the street, when I spotted some distance ahead of me, just before the corner, a woman, her long hooded gray coat flowing back in the breeze, and walking fast just about to turn the corner. I quickened my pace, arriving at the wide, desolate avenue seconds behind the figure...there wasn't a soul in sight.
The ship arrived the next morning, but didn't sail until the following day. I thought that evening of returning to the bar, but didn't.
The night the ship departed, as I wrote up the night orders in the dimly lit Chart Room, I heard from behind me: "Hi there."

This is a true story.

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