Jenn Malinowski Visits the Orange Grove Bar
March 6th, 2016 -Orange County, CA
Jenn checked her cell phone. It read 7:57. She was early. Her friend was going to meet her here since she was visiting town.
She parked her rental car in a back way and walked over to the bar where they were supposed to meet. It was called the Orange Grove Bar and Grill. It was on the outskirts of Orange County, near Costa Mesa. The bar was not much on the outside, with a big green sign that read ‘Orange Grove Bar and Grill’ with no other unique coloration otherwise. The doors were wooden and splintered, and the bar had an old feel to it.
As she walked in, she bobbed her head around, looking at the décor. Several pool tables
and a foosball table stood next to the dark green booths. Multiple beer signs littered the walls, and imagery from the American past sprawled across the wooden frames. The barstools were ruby red, and Jenn plopped her butt on one of them and checked her phone to see if she had gotten any messages.
The bar was mostly empty, sans for a man with a brown goatee sitting near her stool. He paid her no attention, just sipping his beer. The bartender straddled up to her. He was a large black man with long braided hair and a black goatee. His face curved into a smile when he saw her.
“What can I get you?” asked the bartender with a charming, almost malevolent smile.
“I’ll have a Margarita,” she said, clearly and eloquently.
“Can I get an ID check?”
Jenn blushed. It made her happy that she still got carded. She brushed her long dark brown hair, and focused her brown eyes on him, reaching into her purse and talking out her ID card, and handing it to him. He checked it, looked at her, and smirked.
“How do you say your last name?”
“Malinowski,” she replied. “It’s Polish.”
“Damn, don’t see that every day.” He handed the card back to her, and she accepted it and placed it back into her purse. “I’ll be right back with your drink.”
The bartender left to make her drink, and she checked her phone. It read 8:02. Her friend was late. As she did this, the door opened, and she turned her head to look, but it was another guy. This man had curly brown hair and a clean-shaven face that sported a way-too confident smirk as he straddled into the bar. She made the mistake of making eye contact with him, giving him an unwanted opening. She quickly averted his gaze, but it was too late. He walked up to her and sat on the other stool next to her. The other man still paid her no attention. This man paid her all the attention.
“Well, well, you are new,” was the first thing this man said to her.
She ignored him, thinking if she did this, maybe he might leave her alone. Instead, he persisted.
“Are you here by yourself?”
She sighed. She still did not look at him.
“I’m waiting for my friend, Rob.”
“Well, what a coincidence. My name is Rob.”
She finally looked at him and saw the man more clearly. He was not ugly, but he had a smarmy face that was a total turn-off, and it was clear he had one thing on his mind.
“I’m sorry, I’m not interested,” her voice rattled off awkwardly.
“What’s your name? I could be your friend, your very special friend,” Rob persisted.
“Tanner, what the hell are you doing here?” her bartender had returned with her drink.
Rob turned to the bartender, his face filled with contempt.
“I missed you, Hunter. Don’t you miss me?” he asked, his voice ringing with sarcasm.
“Has he harassed you?” The bartender asked Jenn. “He tends to do that with women.”
“Don’t be salty because your friend wants a piece of me,” Rob gloated, directly in the bartender’s face.
“Erika would never touch you,” Hunter shot back.
“Oh, she will, and she will do it again and again,” Rob teased.
The man to Jenn’s other side finally turned in their direction.
“Will you shut the fuck up, please? And stop being such a damn creepy bastard.”
Rob stepped off his stool.
“Who do you think you are?”
The man stood his ground and Jenn noticed he towered over Rob by a few inches. The man reached into his jacket and took out a badge.
“Taylor Young, D.E.A. Agent. Who the fuck are you?”
Rob’s expression softened, and he backed off. He looked at Jenn and shook his head.
“It’s okay, I’ll come back later.”
Rob exited the bar as quickly as he arrived, and Taylor sat back down. He finally looked at Jenn.
“That guy was a douche.”
“I know,” Jenn replied.
Taylor nodded, placed his beer down, and then walked out of the bar. Hunter presented Jenn with her Margarita.
“Sorry you had to go through that,” he apologized. “That guy is a loser who’s currently accused of murder.”
Jenn’s jaw dropped. “Holy shit.”
“Yeah,” Hunter went on. “And he is a perv, too. Always hitting on women with no restraint. By the way, the Margarita is $11.”
She took out her credit card and presented it to him, and he swiped it. He handed it back to her.
“My name is B.J. Hunter. I own this bar. If you need anything else, let me know.”
“Okay, thank you.”
Hunter nodded and left to tend to another customer. She sipped her Margarita and just looked around the bar. She checked her phone again. It read 8:06. She sighed. The door opened again, and this time, a woman walked into the bar.
She was a pretty woman, with light brown hair, high cheekbones, and a shapely figure. She sported a business suit and sauntered into the bar like she owned the place. The woman plopped herself on the stool previously held by the pervy Rob.
This time, a pretty bartender with dark raven-colored hair walked up to her and greeted her with a large smile.
“Hi Megan, what will it be today?”
“Whiskey Sour,” Megan answered. “And tell that B.J. that his favorite district attorney is here, and if he knows what is good for him, he will roll the damn carpet for me.”
“Will do,” replied the raven-haired bartender.
The bartender went to make Megan’s drink and Jenn minded her own business, sipping on her Margarita.
“It’s amazing how stupid some men can be,” Megan said, and Jenn looked up from her Margarita in confusion.
“You’re waiting for one, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am waiting for a guy, but he’s not my boyfriend or anything. He’s my friend.”
“And he’s keeping you waiting? That’s not a pleasant friend, is he?”
“Well, he must have a reason,” Jenn relented.
“They all do, sweetheart. They all do.”
The raven-haired bartender returned with Megan’s drink and handed it to her. Megan barely acknowledged the bartender and then sipped her drink.
“You’re a pretty girl, well, besides the bangs, don’t demean yourself to waiting for some guy.”
Did this woman just compliment and insult her in the same sentence? Jenn laughed nervously. Megan went on.
“Most men in this world only want us women, for one thing, and when they can’t get it, they get agitated. But they don’t realize that we hold control. Look at me, sweetheart.”
And Jenn looked at her. Megan rambled on.
“I am the district attorney of this county and still have the looks to knock any man’s eyeballs out. What do you do for a living?”
“I―I work in advertising.” Jenn stumbled over her words.
“Advertising,” Megan scoffed. She reached into her purse and handed Jenn a card. “If you ever want to make a real difference, then come learn from the best―me.”
Megan finished her drink and left it on the counter. And stepped off the stool gently and walked out of the bar. Jenn held the card and looked back in the door's direction and shook her head. Had she entered some sort of crazy land? And where the hell was Rob? Not creepy Rob, but her friend Rob.
Hunter returned and was cleaning a glass.
“Looks like you met Megan.”
“She’s a little―intriguing.”
Hunter smiled. “You haven’t heard the most of it. Anything else you need?”
Jenn shook her head. “I am going to wait a little more for my friend and then maybe get another drink.”
“Okay, I’ll be around, and so will Scotty.”
Hunter left once again, and the front door swung open again. She turned, expecting to find another weirdo or eccentric character, but it was Rob, her friend Rob. He dashed into the bar, and his face filled with regret.
“I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic was bad.”
She got out of her stool, and he hugged her.
“You owe me carpool karaoke and maybe a chocolate from Dominique Ansel.”
He chuckled. “Done.” Rob sat on the stool next to her. “So, did I miss anything?”
Jenn smiled, shook her head, and told him the story of the last fifteen minutes and the eccentric people she met.