Wanting to escape the cold night air and warm up somewhere – anywhere will do – he gives the heavy oak door a hard shove with his shoulder and steps inside. Restaurant? Bar? What is this place? It doesn’t matter. Quaint old tavern in the middle of a bad dream. He weaves his way through the crowd to the back and heaving a shuddering sigh sits down on the last stool. He rests his damp forehead in his cold hands. Just for a minute he closes his eyes.
He has to think, decide what to do next, find somewhere to spend the night. He is bone tired, broken. Maybe this is what defeat feels like. That nowhere place that cradles you before you fall asleep, the final giving up.
Her warm voice breaks through with a soft question and he shakes his head. Nope, I’m not okay. But if you’ve got coffee, or some hot soup…. His voice trails off when he looks at her face. God, not pity. Anything but that.
Then she smiles, gives her shoulders the faintest of shrugs and he can almost feel her compassion. It’s that powerful. Strong enough to warm him from the inside out. He hardly has time to process these thoughts before he’s cupping his hands around a big white bowl, inhaling the aroma of sweet thick chowder, scalding his tongue with his first impatient spoonful. Starving. For food, for tenderness, for the end.
A blast of cold air hits him in the gut when two men he recognizes all too well push through the door, obviously looking for somebody. For him. How in hell did their search lead them here?
She steps around the counter blocking him from their view, puts her hand over his and tells him to come with her. There’s a room in back where he can hide. Nothing about this makes sense, but he blindly follows her anyway. His life makes no sense. Still he doesn’t want to lose it. Not yet.
Trifecta: Week 110: Between 33 and 333 words using the third definition of the word
QUAINT (adjective) – unusual or different in character or appearance : ODD
– pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar