The couple at the table by the pinball machine look by far the most interesting in the place, to a peoplewatcher like me.
The girl looks tired, as tired as I have ever seen anyone look. Her hair escapes from the band she has tied it in and random locks straggle across her face. Her skin is dull, and her eyes downcast as if they are too heavy to lift. She sits, slumped forward, resting her forearms on the table, idly tipping her glass from side to side, watching the liquid move within it.
In contrast, the man opposite her seems full of energy, gesturing as he speaks, shifting in his seat, his eyes fixed on the girl, as if to pin her there, and force her to return his gaze.
I take a seat at the table next to them, and pretend to be absorbed in a book, not letting them see that I am listening, and occasionally glancing in their direction. I know it's none of my business, but I find the lives of strangers fascinating, and it gets me out of my own dull little world for a while, so don't judge me too harshly.
His voice reflects the tension and nervousness of his body. "There has to be something I can do," he says urgently, pleadingly.
Still looking down, she gives a little shake of her head, and says nothing.
"Damn you, Lisa, why won't you let me help you?"
She sits silent, and gives a slight shrug of one shoulder.
I wonder what he has done to make her want to punish him like this. It clearly is punishment. He is becoming more distressed with every moment, his voice rising in both pitch and volume
"You didn't even tell me you were pregnant," he goes on. "I had to hear it from May. I drove all night to get back here when she told me. Why didn't you tell me?"
She speaks, finally, her voice without inflection. "It wasn't your concern"
"What the hell do you mean? You surely aren't trying to tell me it isn't mine? I don't believe you!"
I've put my book down now. They aren't going to notice my interest, and if they do, well I'm not the only one looking at them by this time.
"It isn't yours."
He looks dumbfounded, outraged. he starts to speak again, "I....."
She interrupts. "It isn't yours, it's mine. My body, my pregnancy, my baby, my problem. None of it is yours."
"My problems stopped being yours when you said it was over. You were very clear about it being over, weren't you Paul? If it was over then, the fact I'm pregnant doesn't change that."
Her voice has become full of bitterness, and she is looking at him at last, glaring, her eyes hard and unyielding, but now his head has dropped, and he can't meet her look. He seems ashamed. I wonder what he said when he ended it, whether he was really as cruel as she evidently thinks he was. I look at the flush on his face and decide that he probably was. Even so, I can't help feeling sorry for him. It's so obvious he regrets it, so obvious he wants to mend the hurt....
"You say you want to help me -- do you really mean that Paul?" She asks.
"You know I do. You know how much I care about you, that I'll do anything I can, anything."
"Then go away. Don't come to see me, don't call, don't mail. Don't ask your friends about me, and don't send me messages through them. Go back to college, back to the girl you left me for, and forget I ever existed. That's all you can do if you really want to help.
"But the baby...."
"Damn the baby!" She is screaming at him now. People are trying to look away, embarassed, but at the same time, dying, like me, to see the how this story ends. "You didn't want me, and you don't want me, what difference does a fucking baby make? I'm not keeping it anyway, why would I want to keep anything that reminded me of you? I wish you'd never come back -- now GO!"
He pushes his chair back, and rushes out, a poor, immature boy, who has no idea how to cope with any of this. He leaves her there, shaking, with angry tears running down her face.She takes several deep breaths to get herself under control. Then she turns to me, looks full at me. "I love him, you know," she says, her voice strangely calm, "If he'd hugged me when he first came in, the ending would have been different."
Then she wipes her eyes with the back of her hand, stands, slowly and with dignity, walks out of the bar, never glancing back at the silent crowd behind her, and disappears.
Ain't love grand?