Elixir

Ilse Lund shifted her weight on the barstool and glanced up at the mirror over the back of the bar.  In its reflection she could see the bar’s bustling activity–licit, illicit, and somewhere in between, depending on whose laws you considered right–and she scanned the room, hoping she would see him again and wishing she could get out of there unnoticed. She could hear the faint chords from Sam’s piano over the din of laughter and drunken conversation, and she nursed her Manhattan (What had happened to her martini? she wondered), thinking about Victor, her husband the hero,  who was speaking at a meeting somewhere in Casablanca. She glance again at the mirror. Would Rick come back into the bar now that he knew she was there? She drank the last swallow of this elixir and set the empty glass on the bar to catch the bartender’s attention. He came over and looked at her expectantly. He was a short man and very skinny, with his shirt sleeves rolled up neatly to his elbows and his black hair parted above his right ear. He smiled at her and Ilse thought his expression intimated his knowledge of so many secrets that might break her heart or Rick’s, or that might ruin Victor’s reputation. She set her jaw and ordered a gin and tonic.

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