Helene was no particular slouch in the looks department, though approving her in the looks department would be like approving a V8 engine in a bicycle. Best to play it honest and give her due credit for what would be in any appraisal a tongue-ejecting specimen of smoke and sex. Honestly? Such a thing to ask for with Helene. With perfectly toned legs that, as they say, go all the way to the top, the merest hint of acrobatic sexy-flexy more than just made a bottom half begging to be twisted and turned in a tumult of steaming potency, instead making it the men brought to the begging positions, sparing her knees the effort. Even without being US-legal a drinker, she was a punch-drunk knock-out stretch of coiled sleekness. Why she was working in the bar-- nobody knew.
When she moved, it would always be as a pouring of muscle in every sense of the fluidity one thinks of with the words 'lithe' or 'mercurial' come out in your paper's yellowing crossword puzzle. Add a pair of wings to those heels she has a hidden stamina for wearing from one end of the evening to another, and she's suddenly a Hermes on the decidedly pink end side of the androgyny wall. Well, pink and black.
The engineers would come in and make whispered jokes about getting the numbers on her curves, and sometimes she would smile at their barely suppressed premature ejaculations of calculus notation, spreading all along the edges of whatever writing paper could be found. And sometimes she would taunt a more literal reaction out of them by daintily picking up one of their rulers or protractors, holding it to her breasts, asking for measurements (it was never elaborated on who would be providing them).
After all, it was all about fluidity: stalking from one dry spot to another, watering down whatever sobriety threatened to bollock the mood fuelled by cheap jukebox jingles and cheaper ethyl of varying quality, spills and splashes of conversation, blood, beer, vomit, laughter, song, urine, or unmanageable combination of most of them. The pub heaved and sighed, crested and waned, and Helene hopped about to treat the dry sores.
It wasn't that Jason ever remembered the place as being nice, or fun, or even forgivably cheap, nor did he ever expect that it would get better, worse, or change in any particular sense. The point that it was a constant hodgepodge, predictable in its turbulence, a little chaos fractal generated by the simple equations containing the usual variables and coefficients for tempers, stupidity, pathos, and intake. Simple things, simple people, leading to something occasionally fantastic, usually if you zoomed out or waited long enough to see it. Oh, sure, bias in hindsight, maybe a little bit of cognitive dissonance where your memory decides to Stalinize every last image with an airbrush of nostalgia, attachment, or other crap-- still, the place was as it was and as it always would be, the firmament that came with the void and chaos just because there needed to be a place for people who, from the moment the first fermentation put the first protoplasm a good two sheets to the wind, had been giving the whole of Creation the finger. Ernie's Den earned that distinction, being a repository for all manner of assholes, ingrates, and fuckers with a reputation that could outdo Hades if only it were to get itself a proper mastiff guardian instead of the limp-wristed security that pretty much regarded the legal drinking age as a suggestion.
That had been the initial appeal to Jason and Stan, who had moved beyond the faux maturity of the trendsetting cliques who drank (heavily sweetened) cappucinos, complained about migraines, and broached the octogenarian mode of thought in that they inundated one another with contempt for how the world was turning out under the leadership of people whose greed blinded them (preferring instead the visionary idealogues whose clear political and social iconoclasm were obviously the only reasons for their repression). By the time that the mid-stage teenagers had discovered the ether pit that was Montreal, flocking as they would to the buses and parents who would be wont to purchase summer homes in Dorval, Brossard, or else on the island itself, the two had already become afficianados of malt, hop hedonists of the snobbery of which would regularly further the divide between the Pabst-drinking pursuivants of the high-proof rush and the selectively consumptive have-nots who preferred the complex tastes of the brasseries to actually admitting that even heavy integration into the former group of swill-drinkers would not in any way get them laid by a woman of Coors-compromised critical faculties. So it was that Jason and Stan would grace the hormonal urges and demands of their newly de-alopecia'd genitals with the company of suds rather than sex.
Ed's, the bar in question, was as much to them a part of their education as the classes they skipped out on to go there. They didn't just learn about throwing a punch (in Jason's case), or taking one (in Stan's), playing darts, or hustling at pool (again, also Stan's)- they made their own strides of maturity in deft contrast to their social superiors, most important of which was not the contempt of the popular groups, but instead a rich and fertile pragmatic cynicism.
Of course, other lessons were learned, a necessity in the face of the fresh and screaming infant on their shoulders that was puberty, which could only be moderately stunted by immoderate consumption of abortive spirits, or perhaps by gorging onessself on engorging imagery followed by self-administered release motions. Nevertheless, despite the varying strategies to calm untested lust with a literal handful of strategies, the only clear resolution would be to actually go and divest themselves of their virginal charges.
“Helene.” said Stan, one night, knee rattling worryingly against the underside of the table. He gripped his Pilsner with an intensity that might fling it out of an already sweat-filled space between hand and glass. “I totally need to fuck Helene. Oh, Christ, I need to get laid.”
“Nobody fucks Helene. Not only is she more likely to lay you out than lay you, but you have to deal with the fact that she's a cocktease of lethal proportions. Picture a nymphomaniac who exudes venomous barbed wire from her skin. That's Helene.” Jason busied himself with overdue homework, already spattered with flecks of drying lambic, the particulate remains of which were a vague eyebrow-raising worry as to when the pub had last cleaned its taps.
“Don't make me picture that, Jesus, don't you see I'm already jonesing for this?”
“Boys.” There was a stifled squeak from Stan as he only partially succeeded in reining in his sudden anxious terror. The glass did not make it, ruining a full page of Jason's scribblings, causing him to move in one motion to the backing of the booth and raising his arms and hackles to their full height, his mouth framed in a wordless 'O' of fury. “Another round for you?”
Helene had a habit of flowing into the environment without being noticed. She had her lips curled in a canine demi-smile, and was dressed in her usual oil-slick dress that resisted the greasy anarchy around it to a level of remarkable endurance that was on par with her resistance to being worn down in heels. She flicked a mascara-rich lash at Jason. “Better get that blow-dried.”
Jason, oblivious to the wink or at least feigning it to further punish the ham-handed unhanding of the hops (which was working, by any measure of the full-body stiffening of Stan), dryly said, “Stan, you can help me with that, can't you? Just purse your lips, huff, puff, and stop blowing down your damn beer.”
Helene's canines exposed themselves further. “I'll get you a new one, Stan-man. Can't have you jonesing about like that.” She bent past a crimson Stan, bringing a suddenly produced washcloth in swoops about the table, mopping up the beer. This exaggerated the movement of her breasts, and with the barely measurable proximity that Helene was putting herself, a similar tinge to Stan's red crept up Jason's collar. Helene straightened up, slapping the cloth onto the dress that wouldn't even notice it.
“I'll tell Morgan at the bar to set you up. Call me if you need me.”
She slinked away in a writhe-inducing writhing, and Stan slammed his face down onto the table.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Also:Fuck.”
Jason, however, was drawn to the one dry corner of his workbook, where appropriated ballpoint sounded out a local number. A 'call me' would probably have been superfluous, distracting from the point that the number had been given at all. “That's new.” he said. It wasn't. It was just Helene attending to the dry spots. A knowing smile crept about Jason's face. “Cheer up,” he said to the bruised ego sitting opposite him, head still in an unmopped puddle of flat beer, “You don't have to deal with barbed wire and venom.”
Stan muttered a thanks steeped in sarcasm and followed with profanity. Jason tucked the number in his pocket without particularly announcing the motion. No point in being excessive about it. Well, even if such things promised to exceed... Well. The pragmatic cynicism drifted into his now unflappable good humor. Virginity's loss, by the large, would already be humiliating, disgraceful, and probably forgettable. Better to go in being certain of that. Better still to have a fucking wonderful time doing it.
“Well, blow me down.” said Jason, rather relieved at the prospect of dousing his ailing parts with something less volatile than booze.
“Just shut up and get me my beer from the bar. I'm jonesing.”
Of course he was.