Only For You(14)By: Genna Rulon
“Hello lovely ladies. Good to see you both, it’s been a couple of weeks. What can I get you?”
“We’ll both have pomegranate mojitos, thanks,” Sam ordered with a flirty smile.
He returned with our cocktails, smiling at Sam as he set our drinks before us. Sam extended a twenty but he waved it off.
“These are on the house, a welcome home drink. Besides, they may prove to be medicinal in a few minutes. I don’t feel right charging you to lessen your prospective suffering.”
“Thanks?” Sam and I replied in unison, both lost after his confusing statement. The Stop never gives free drinks. Never.
We clinked our glasses before enjoying our first sip. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Griffin, who had served us drinks minutes ago, mounting the stage. Ah, medicinal—I get it. He must be the live music for the evening. He didn’t have much faith in his abilities if he believed his performance would necessitate alcohol to be tolerable.
I had seen Griffin countless times during my tenure at Hensley, both working at the bar and on campus. Neither Sam nor I had spoken with him beyond polite acknowledgements, but he always bestowed a smile or chin lift when he saw us. Despite our previous interactions, I felt I was seeing him for the first time. He was at least six feet four and strong, not artificial like a bodybuilder, but naturally muscled. An image of him dressed as the superhero Thor sprung to mind, which I instantly resolved not to share, unsure if he would see it as the compliment I intended. His wavy blonde hair glowed like a halo in the spotlight adding an ethereal quality. His facial features were decidedly Nordic with a square face and jaw, light eyes, high cheekbones, and a wide mouth with full lips. He could easily pass for a Viking, minus the raping and pillaging.
“Hi everyone, I’m Griffin Evensen. The artist scheduled to perform was a no show,” he paused to allow the crowd to ‘boo’ their disapproval of the flakey musician, “so you’re stuck with me. Don’t worry, I’ll restrict myself to covers, you won’t have to suffer any clumsy originals. The silver lining is the set is only forty minutes, and the bar will remain open.”
He smiled self-deprecatingly. He was charming, whether he sang in key or not, his introduction had earned him a fan. After positioning the acoustic guitar, he settled against a stool, trying to appear relaxed and failing miserably. The guitar seemed tiny against his vast body, similar to an average-sized man playing a ukulele. His entertainment score rose further as I couldn’t fathom how he would finger the frets with his mammoth hands. He cleared his throat nervously before strumming the opening cords of "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. He was a masterful guitar player, just as good as the original track. It was the perfect opening song, inspiring Sam and me to bop and sing along.
His voice was fantastic, complimenting the song, and he was perfectly in tune, a pet peeve of mine. As his set unfurled his confidence rose, allowing him to relax and lose himself in the music. His set planning was clever—he transitioned from fun songs to comforting songs that offered greater depth of meaning, and I was captivated. After the final chords rang out, the trance holding everyone silent broke, the cheers and applause were nearly deafening. Sam and I whistled our approval as loudly as we could manage, trying to voice our praise above the roar of the crowd.
“Wow!” Sam whispered reverently. “He was amazing, I never would have expected that voice to come out of his body. And his set was brilliant! We should make a playlist with all those songs.”
I agreed, and we texted ourselves the set list to download tomorrow.
“You still have to tell me about your enlightened day,” Sam made air quotes around the word enlightened. “Spill it.”
Sam listened intently as I recounted my run in with Hunter in painstaking detail. She snorted, unsympathetic to my plight of tolerating Hunter in another class. She believed fate was having a laugh at my expense and was smug when I revealed my presumptions about Hunter’s intelligence were proved false. I edited out my near strangulation by scarf, determined to retain a small shred of dignity.
"…enlightenment struck on the way to my car—Hunter is gay!"