She walked into an Irish Pub that looked like where townies would hang out.

Hell bent on befriending more locals and jazzed off rum and cokes and bloody marys (a divine rotation which evoked the saucy spirit of old Hemingway), she stumbled up to the bar, her glassy eyes blazing a glorious and unapologetic red (probably still reflecting the dramatic sunset she had been witness to a few hours and well drinks prior). She proceeded to grab a stool at the bar between a couple of grey haired fogeys, but before her rump could make its routine descent, the bartender asked to see some I.D. She pulled out her Iowa Driver s License for the umpteenth time that night, and one of the grayed folks looked over at her and asked Just how old are you? 23. She replied, matter-of-factly. You don t look 23. Yeah well neither do you. She said dryly. Ha. Well how old do I look He dared her, his hand subconsciously smoothing the wrinkles on his face. Hmmm she pretended to be deep in thought, her gaze cast up and to the right as if trying to look inside her brain for an answer, I d say late twenties, maybe 28? He laughed, Perfect answer. You want a drink? Order whatever you want, it s on me. Hell yes. Shit man, I ll tell you you look 12 if you want. She turned to the bartender, You heard the man, I ll take a bloody mary, please. He smiled and began to mix the drink, carefully adding hot sauce per her slurry request. The old man stumbled away. She drank alone, her soggy mind racing at 1000 thoughts per second. As she pondered, a young man wandered up to take the place of the old fogey. Hi there, can I buy you a drink? The mousey brown-haired Martin Short doppleganger inquired, smoothing his hair and sharing a wolf s grin. Why the hell not. She replied. What s your name anyway?

Frank He replied, And yours? Ashley She lied, replacing the truth with her former middle name, the first name which popped into her head. Well nice to meet you, Ashley. And where are you from? Illinois It felt like second nature, lying to this guy she was already beginning to get bad vibes from. Great. Well, I m from here. My dad owned a big shipping company and I live on an island he owned just north of here. Want to come check it out?

She sipped on her bloody mary and vaguely looked him over, a little disappointed in the unbelievable talk-up this man was giving himself. If you re going to lie, at least make it believable. No, I think my step dad would get kind of mad if I ditched him and his hotel room. Oh, you re here with your stepdad, huh? What brings you two to the island? It s my mom s funeral. She died of brain cancer. Oh, I m so sorry. He shook his head in an attempt to express empathy. I can relate, my dad died of leukemia. That sucks. Yeah. So how old are you? 21, and yourself? 27. So what do you do in Illinois? You re very pretty, are you a model? Inside her brain, her eyes rolled intensely. Her ability to be polite was wearing thin but the promise of a free drink kept her carefully sharpened tongue at bay. No, I m in my last semester of my master s degree at Illinois State University. Wow. He looked intrigued. What s your major? I study environmental science. She replied curtly, purposefully being as generic in her lie as possible so as to keep it easy to remember whilst leaving her story open for embellishment. Lying about yourself to strangers is both a science and an art, when done correctly. What do you do? Nothing right now. I just live with my mother on our island. But I plan on going to community college. She chuckled, That s cool. What do you want to study? ( I bet it s business. Jerks like this always say business. ) I don t know yet. I m thinking business. In her head, she promised herself a reward rum and coke for her divination skills. Her crassness refusing to stay jailed, she smugly stated, Is there even a community college on this island? Let s not get into that. So listen, what would it take to get you to come see my island? Oh, gee, I don t think I could, my dad would be mad if I ditched him. You mean stepdad. Shit , she thought, I better keep up with this story. I CALL him dad because my real dad split from my mom when I was a baby and I ve never known him.

Oh I see. What s your mom do? She s she paused, well aware that he was probably seeing through her lies at this point, but also well aware that she didn t care. She s a banking tycoon Or she was. She hurriedly added. Interesting. So listen, do you even remember my name? I m not going to lie, no I have no idea what your name is. Good, because I didn t catch yours. I like that you re honest about it. I m Frank. And you re Nicole, right? Ashley. She replied. She looked around nervously all of a sudden, wondering how he knew her real name. Her I.D. was tucked away in her wallet. Her drunken sense of paranoia was heightened. Did the barteneder tell him? That s the only person in here who knew my name? Is this some sort of conspiracy against me? She started sipping her drink with a quiet intensity, dedicated to its quick obsoletion from the glass. Well, Ashley, what would it take to get you to come home with me and ditch your dad and this bar? Frank grinned, his eyes glimmered with hope. Honestly, Frank, there s not enough alcoholic beverages in the world to convince me that would be a wise or fruitful decision. She began to hoover her drink as fast as she could, the spiciness of the added Crystal hot sauce (the island seemed to be completely void of sriracha) starting to sting her soft palette. Taken aback, he sipped his drink and looked her over. She continued on her quest to reach the bottom of the glass. Okay well what about money, do you want money? He said casually, as if the words were his slogan. She hoped he was kidding. The swarthy grin on his face said he wasn t. She picked up her drink and gave it the old Iowa chug. Dude, I m gonna get out of here. This is just not happening. Honestly. She leveled with Frank, disappointed again that people could actually stoop so low. You don t have to go, stay for another drink. He begged, reaching out to grab her arm. She pressed her arm against her side and swung her trademark green army bag over her shoulder, hopping to her feet. Yeah, Yeah I really do have to go. I make it a rule never turn down a free drink but I think in this case I ve got to get going. She moved quickly to the door, ignoring his feeble protests. As she stumbled into the street, she walked hurriedly to the right, her exit strategy unplanned. After fleeing the scene for a few blocks and being sure he wasn t following her, she got out the free tourist map she had acquired from the motel lobby that morning. She gazed at the map, hunting for some clue as to her whereabouts and the whereabouts of her hotel. She could find neither. Quickly, the irony of her refusal to listen to her dad s obnoxious bike tour came to her. She could hear herself quipping God, dad, I m not a dolt. I can find my way around anywhere. Look this is one big touristy street and this

whole island s not so big. Plus I ve got this map. Swallowing her pride, she dug out her phone and dialed her dad s number.

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