Nevertheless she couldn’t not go in. She’d almost stepped into the bright rectangle on the sidewalk, and the cloud of smoke and jumbled talk above it, when something made her freeze. Something on the back of her neck. Something in the air. Something like danger, but also irresistible. Juno knew she had to go inside, but very uncharacteristically felt a little afraid. She sought courage in something she hadn’t done in nearly four years.
All eyes converged on Jock when he entered the shabby bar room. No danger at all seemed imminent, though. It wasn’t cards everybody was playing. It was dominoes. Groups of young-to-middle-aged men were huddled ’round the tables, all modestly but tidily dressed. They clearly all knew one another. There wasn’t a word of English to be heard.
Nothing interesting then, Juno tried to tell herself while the hairs on the back of Jock’s neck told her different. It was clear she’d have to stay and find out why.
Thanking her stars for the hunch that had made her switch genders, she made Jock walk up to the counter real slow. Some of the men nodded a hello. A couple even smiled. Seemed a pretty harmless bunch, these dudes. But the air compacted and heaved with every one of Jock’s steps.
‘Oye, chacho,’ came a voice just as he’d reached the bar. ‘Quieres jugar?’
Four years out of practice and still the guy managed to take over, Juno groaned inwardly as Jock rushed to plonk himself down mighty fast, at the only table around with just three men. Looked like they needed a fourth player.
No sooner had Juno caught her breath on her chair than she got totally winded again beholding her company. The three guys she found herself with looked perfectly pleasant, if pretty hairy, and not much older than her. But the air was so dense and lithe at this table she could barely inhale, while Jock’s neck hairs impaled his shirt collar. And yet the three pairs of black eyes gazing mildly at her absolutely weren’t warlocks’. Juno didn’t understand at all. Dazedly she looked around for guitars.