The room was crowded.
Friday night, a hundred voices blended into a meaningless babble punctuated with the peals of womens’ laughter. A hoot from the pool room, a schizophrenic’s wailing wall of vivid, ever-changing screens, tunes without soul plunked out from the gaming machines, broad laughter from the bar, two women behind me talking about their hair, three shaven haired men sitting shoulder to shoulder at a table across the way, like gargantuan seed pods about to sprout.
One table away a woman facing me sitting opposite her husband, a broad-shouldered grey-haired man. He’s talking. Occasionally she nods without looking at him and meeting his eyes.
He picks up his drink and walks away. Leaving her alone at a table for four in a crowded room. A woman of about fifty-five, short auburn hair, composed, her glasses reflecting a benign light from the ceiling lamps. Her lips set. She too looks around the room as she puts more of her lifetime aside for her husband as he pleasures himself at the bar, or the poker machines, or the pool table, the betting room.
She is an unwavering flame of separate life in this room while all around her would be a bedlam to anyone but us.
He walked over and sat on the seat her husband vacated.
‘My husband sits there,’ she said, looking at him.
‘I won’t be a moment,’ he responded, then, ‘ if I was a painter, which I am not, I would paint you as you are right now.’
Then he got up and walked away.