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[ talking to strangers in shithole dive bars ]
by kHo

The first thought he had was what a shame it was that this man had no eyes, because the first thing he wanted to do was make him smile. He had a feeling this man hadn't smiled in a long time, and that was very disturbing to him.

"Wh… what's your name, sir?"

The man with the dark sunglasses would have glared at him if he could have, of that much he was sure. "What the fuck does it matter?"

"Well, my name's Sam," he said, sticking out his hand and then frowning at his own stupidity. "I uh…"

A hand met his and he almost jerked it back because there was no way this man would have seen his hand sticking out. The man had no eyes, for God's sake. He had pits in their place.

"I couldn't help but notice, um. You, uh…"

"Have no eyes?"

Sam ducked his head in shame. Of all the dumb things to say. "I'm sorry."

The man laughed, taking a large puff off of his cigarette. "Yes, well. What happens in Mexico…"

Sam's eyebrow rose as he waited for the man to finish his thought and began to pray that Joon would come out of the bathroom soon, because she always knew how to handle these things better than he did. "I'm sorry," he said again.

"Sands," the man said, letting the tiny brown cigarillo dangle from his lips as he dug in his pocket.


"Sands," he said again, anger tinting his voice as he threw a ten dollar bill on the bar. "My name, dipshit."

"Oh," Sam said, laughing and casting a longing glance at the bathroom door. "Okay."

He tried not to flinch as the man's hand closed over his shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut, thinking that perhaps he and Joon should have asked Benny to come along on this trip to Mexico. "Little hint Sammy?"

Sam frowned. Very few people called him Sammy, and this man certainly had no reason to be one of them. "Huh?"

"Don't talk to eyeless strangers in shithole dive bars in Mexico," he hissed in his ear. Sam could feel the smile curving against his neck and it gave him shivers all the way down his spine. "Never know who you're gonna cross."

"Right," Sam said, breathing only once the hand was off of his shoulder and the man's lips were no longer near his ear. He turned his head to face the man. "I apologize if I offended…"

"Who are you talking to," Joon said, staring at him as he looked at her with wide eyes.

"The man," Sam said, pointing over her shoulder and frowning when he saw no one.

She looked behind her. "What man?"

"The man," Sam repeated, standing up and craning his neck around. "The man with no eyes."

Joon giggled, covering her mouth. "Sam, quit playing jokes on me."

"I'm not joking," Sam said, shaking his head adamantly and continuing to look around the bar. "He was here. He was here and he… he had no eyes!"

Joon nodded, shrugging. "Well is he still here?"

Sam frowned. "No."

"Then let's go shopping. I saw the cutest Sombrero stand down at the end of the block."

Sam nodded, picking up his hand and putting it on his head. He frowned again, looking around one more time before taking her hand in his. "Joon," he said tentatively as they stepped out into the hot dry air of the street. "Do you think we could not go to any more bars down here?"

Joon laughed. "Okay."

Sam nodded. "Good. Cause I… I'm not good at those kinds of things."

"Good at what kinds of things," Joon asked.

Sam shrugged. "Knowing when to be quiet, when to talk."

Joon rolled her eyes. "Sam, if anything, you could do with more talking."

"Right," Sam said, tightening his grip on her hand. "But… not in bars, okay?"

Joon laughed, stopping and kissing him quickly on the mouth. She laughed again at his startled expression. "Okay," she said, nodding her head. "Now. Sombreros!"

All feedback much appreciated!
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