A Bit Rusty


isis2_icon.gif sahara_icon.gif

Scene Title A Bit Rusty
Synopsis Two women share a mid-week drink.
Date February 6, 2019


Part bar, part arcade, Add-a-Ball is a neighborhood fixture in Elmhurst and a favourite haunt for the Safe Zone's younger inhabitants and those with a weak spot for 80's nostalgia. The building's labyrinthine layout seems to go on forever, branching out into narrow, uneven corridors lined with old arcade and pinball machines, dozens of which are out of service at any given time. This said, it's impossible to get lost; every pathway connects with another, and eventually leads back to the bar.

Behind the bar, shelves of cheap spirits are stacked all the way up to the ceiling, creating a glass collage of eye-catching colors and shapes, not unlike the games themselves. Tall stools that swivel a full 360 degrees provide seating at the bar itself, but there are also a series of tables clustered nearby that are almost always covered in empty plates, crumpled paper napkins, and leftover glasses tipped with beer head.

Ceiling fans swing lazily overhead, providing the circulation desperately needed to prevent the room from turning into a furnace.

Sometimes, you just had to get away from your usual haunts in order to really relax after a rough day, and it was this mentality that brought Sahara as far away from home as Elmhurst. Add-a-Ball wasn't a place she'd normally consider to be her sort of dive, with its arcade games and a lack of sports games up on a TV set, but it as alcohol — and so it will do.

The blonde woman lifts a hand to idly scratch her brow as she looks down at the shot she has poured before her, contemplating if it'd be better to drink heavily and then try something familiar like a pinball game, or if she should get the latter out of the way sooner. She chuckles to herself as she weighs the pros and cons, sliding off her winter coat and hanging it off the back of her chair. Sahara looks comfortable without that extra layer on; a modest earthy green three-quarter-sleeve sweater worn with slacks.

"Can't wait for the weekend," she sighs to nothing in particular as she tilts the shot back. Her face screws up at the taste, and she leans back into her seat like the shot shot her or something. It's obvious hard alcohol isn't usually her thing.

Visit Memorial Wall: Check! - Find place to stay: Check! - Find nearest bar: CHECK!
These were Isis's top priorities in her return to NYC and they are officially done! There was some debate between whether locating the bar or locating a place to sleep was top priority, but lo-and-behold - shabby apartment near shabby bar. Score!

The redhead finds herself one skipped stool, for personal-bubble's sake, away from Sahara. She's shed her coat, but either has something wholeheartedly against the cold or she is an exaggerated fan of clothing. A maroon turtleneck flatters her slim shape, meeting black leggings at her hips. It's a business casual sorta look except for the combat style boots and the fact she's still wearing her gloves.

"Right? If I hear one more person say 'hump day'…" Her hazel eyes roll back up in her head before they spare a glance over at the blonde. Her pale lips twitch up easy at the corners and she lifts her highball glass in idle cheers towards Sahara. "Work to live, don't live to work." With that she tips back her drink and flags down the barkeep for a refill.
The twist to Sahara's mouth becomes more amused than disgusted at hearing Isis' take on Wednesdays, and she lets out a warm laugh before turning to look at her barmate. One cheek dimples as she grins in return, swirling her shotglass for any last drops. "I'd drink to that, but, I'm out," she announces. The glass is lowered slightly to be stared at ruefully. "Unfortunately."

It's a dramatically done expression that's wiped away as soon as she looks back to Isis, brows arching in a friendly invite for more conversation.

"That's a philosophy to live by, though! As good a one as I've ever heard." Even though she sounds disgruntled, there's a honey to her voice — a certain brightness that can't be stamped out.

"The next two days had better behave themselves if they know what's good for them! Weekend just can't come fast enough." Her legs cross as she waits for the bartender to make his way down to Isis, thinking ahead to what she wants to drink next.

Isis's drink is a concoction of a few liquors and a wedge of lemon with sugar. She takes up glass and citrus and nudges her head sideways in Sahara's direction as she speaks with the bartender. "Her next one is on me. Sounds like she needs it". With that, she swivels in her seat to face her impromptu drinking buddy more properly. She freezes, blinks, and blushes. It's just a moment, easily unnoticed from the outside perhaps, but there's a flicker of doubt in hazel eyes before her smile reaches back to those prismatic irises and lights them anew.

"My dad used to say it. But, that man really had something against any work that wasn't of his own design." She shakes her head, lazy crimson strands bobbing against her cheeks. "You don't strike me as that type, though. What is it you do, if I may ask?" With that sucks on the lemon just enough to draw her sharp features into a silly start of a pucker and sips at her drink. She seems to melt just a bit where she sits at the effect of warm booze.

"My daddy was much the same, except he's passionate about what he does," Sahara remarks, and her voice tugs a certain way, the honey filled with twang for just a moment. "Bit of a self-made man these last few years." She's thoughtful, but doesn't let it swallow her up, going on to remark, "War was tough on us all. You sort of had to be self-made to get by those years."

She seems abundantly aware suddenly that she's drifted into topics that might not be considered pleasant, and straightens posture, brightening with a renewed smile. "Oh, I'm a massage therapist by day, I work at an office out in Bay Ridge. It's a great place, great people, but … you know how it is. Clients and all. Sometimes you get some people who just aren't your favorite."

Her hand lifts from her folded arms and strikes out toward Isis. "Sahara Jackson. Pleased to meet you!"

The redhead nods kindly enough as Sahara shares a bit more. There's something about that sweet tone, and even the sincerity of the shifting tone and redirect, that draws a nostalgic sort of smile to Isis's features - the kind where one side of the smile comes up just a bit more and you find yourself tipping your head as if it helps you to imagine just what the other party is seeing.

As Sahara announces her profession, though, Isis's erect spine and shoulder buckle and slump. "Massaaaaage," her warm alto voice just melts into a purr of a word. She straightens back up, continuing less dramatically. "I mean, they're wonderful from the receiving end, but I don't think I would ever willingly sign up to do what you do." She reaches out and takes the offered hand, her grip a little firmer than is common for the female variety, but polite enough. "Joanne King. Happy to meet you, also. You can call me Jo, if you like."

With that she lets go the hand and instead leans forward conspiratorially. "I have to ask," she whispers, "is it true some people moan and men get… aroused sometimes when they get massages?" She leans back with an apologetic type of grimace bitten upon by her top teeth.

While Isis slumps over in her seat, Sahara chuckles and turns to the bartender as he arches his brow expectantly. Without the slightest bit of shame for putting him on the backburner for a moment, she just bobs her head politely and says, "I'll try what she's having. Couldn't hurt, right?"

And why not! New place, new things to try.

Her arms fold back over her chest again after the shake, posture relaxed otherwise. The question 'Jo' announces causes Sahara to lean her head forward just slightly in return to better hear the question… before she rolls her eyes. Not at Isis, no, but at that whole topic. Instead of answering directly, she says, "You know, it's normally not that busy this time of year, but with the year-round construction efforts, we have a few regulars that are hard to shake." Her shoulders lift in a hapless shrug. "It's like they don't even try to follow-up with the exercises we send them home with."

Head canting to the side, Sahara looks back. "Anyway, with those sorts it's usually more of the 'Honey, you don't have to be gentle with me' or the types who repeatedly say they're open for more pressure…" She lets out a sigh tinged with a melodic note, reaching out for the prepared drink. It was fast! They were right here, after all. And all the better for Sahara. "But it does take a special person to do this sort of thing. Definitely takes some getting used to all the repetition at first, but you just… ease into it and it gets relaxing for you, too. You fall into a rhythm and the routine for different cycles can get pleasantly meditative."

Glancing back to Isis, she smiles again. "And there's the added benefit of the other person walking away feeling much better than they came in. It's wonderful to give people that bit of peace and relaxation." There's not even a hint in her expression that she'd like to follow up that statement with a dry 'usually'. She's genuine.

What Jo is having is a funny little piece of alcoholic magic called Chocolate Cake. It's equal parts vodka and a hazelnut liquor called Frangelico. Something miraculous happens, though, with the citrus and sugar and booze the whole mix ends up tasting like chocolate cake on the tongue.

The redhead waits literally on the edge of her seat, but it would seem this divinely sweet blond is not going to give her the behind the scenes scoop. Isis chuckles as Sahara professionally swings back 'round to all the positive, fulfilling aspects of the job, an easy smile plays at her nude lips as she gives a little nod and steal another sip of her own boozy blend.

"See? Now that's the sorta of work I need. Not massage, as we've clearly outlined." She gives a 'clearly I'm not the right fit'-style shrug. "The kind that makes a difference in someone's day, you know? For the positive." She finds herself nodding subtley but repeatedly at her own statement. It'd come off more thoughtful if it wasn't for the setting and the possibility that she's been here an hour or two taking in the drinks. "Yes, that's what I'll aim for. First thing tomorrow."

There's a tinge of curiosity in Sahara's expression while she sips her new drink. Her tongue smirches her lips right before she asks, "What sort of skills do you have you'd want to use to do that?" The curiosity turns immediately into smiles again as she adds, "There's plenty of opportunity for it all across the Safe Zone, for sure."

Isis rests an elbow on the bar, supporting the side of her neck in one gloved hand as she considers Sahara's question. "My skills are… rusty", she admits with a groan. "I've been… a stay-at-home for a while," she says, fidgeting a moment to cross her legs deliberately at the ankles. "I used to tend bar before that, but really my life has been all about the kids these last couple years." She shrugs casually and looks to Sahara expectantly. "I dunno how that's going to translate to work in the SafeZone, you know?"

The vague response is something Sahara understands well, even one that piques her intrigue. It's to the point she raises her glass in acknowledgement. "It sounds like you also have a skillset that takes a special person." She lapses into silence for a moment, mind working. Helping people was something she loved to do, and Jo suddenly seems like a huge opportunity. She takes a moment to slide a case from her coat's pocket, prying it open to slide free a business card. "My cell is on here. I'll keep you in mind, if you want to reach out. Could find you a new place of purpose in no time, if we get lucky!"

Isis lifts the card up to eye level with a pleasantly furrowed brow. "Thanks!", she replies in a tone that mingled with surprise and gratitude in equal measure. Her luck is never this good! Best call it quits before things turn south. She waggles the card to go along with her nod and tucks it safely into a pocket of the jacket she takes up from the back of her chair and begins to work onto her slender arms and shoulders. "Wow. Just…" She pauses, jacket half on and makes sure she's meeting Sahara's gaze. "No really, thanks. I'm so glad I came back." She zips up her gray jacket and fluffs her long red hair out from under the high black collar. "I'll shoot you a message first chance I get. Hey, maybe we can meet up for dreaded Hump Day drinks again if nothing else." She grins. "I gotta go get some rest. You aughtta also - it'll make that weekend come quicker." With a quick wave and a smile she lays a tip on the bar and leaves a little bit lighter and more certain of her choices than when she'd arrived.

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