from "...with Healing in his Hands..."

I started to daydream a little, of places I'd read about. Places where the air was cooler, and the men didn't look quite so worn-out: where folks walked through dark, stone passageways as if they had all the time in the world, and some of the men carried swords…

I was halfway down the path to that secret and beautiful universe when someone nudged me, and I snapped back into the here and now, to find Poppa glaring at me.

“Celeste, are you gonna get this fella a drink, or do I have to do it myself?”

I leapt up from the stool guiltily, embarrassed at being caught, and turned my attention to the man standing at the bar.

My heart all but stopped at the sight of him.

I'd never seen a man like him in this place, and I marveled that he didn't seem to feel like he was out of his element. None of the local menfolk had hair like that: long and wavy, framing his face and cascading halfway down his back. “A hippy,” Poppa and the other men would say, their lips twisting with contempt, “or maybe a homo.”

He was young, probably not much older than me, and had the kindest eyes I'd ever seen, and a sweet smile to match. His pale skin spoke of the moon and cool dark night and, in spite of his black jeans and t-shirt, he looked for all the world as if he could have stepped right out of that stone passageway I was thinking of when Poppa called me to attention.

“Hello,” he said, the smile broadening. “Bourbon straight up, please?”

I smiled and nodded, and brought it to him, and he paid me, then stood there watching me as he sipped the whiskey.

I watched right back, my eyes locking his. He didn't look away, and seemed as if he wanted to speak. Finally, halfway through the drink, he said, “I heard there was music here. Where's the band?”

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