He stood at the far end of the bar, watching her through the lens of his pint. She looked like an interesting creature. There was something unusual about this one… a different species from the rest, shimmering and elegant amidst the usual shoal of drab guppies. He wasn’t sure if it was the effect of the glass but her movements seemed almost fluid, translucent, as if she was dancing in water… a beautiful mermaid gliding gracefully through the murky, stagnant depths of the nightclub.
He’d caught many before of course. Sometimes up to a dozen in a single night. Most of them weren’t worth keeping… dull dab-like creatures or common bloaters, but he liked a selection and sometimes it was fun to see just how many you could catch in one night. Some, though, had turned out to be nothing like he’d expected… beautiful exotic creatures, designed to entice, but so full of poison when you got to open them up that you had to throw them straight back. Occasionally though he’d landed a real catch. True, these were not the easiest to reel in but he’d perfected the art. The prize catch were more wily. They sensed the bait from miles away and you had to slacken off for a bit, pretend you weren’t interested, let them swim around in their little pool of freedom…. Let them think they were the hunter. Then it was easy. Sometimes you almost didn’t need the hook…. they’d jump straight into your net.
He watched from the end of the bar as she made her way off the dance floor. There were four more with her but she stood out from the rest. They stopped about fifteen feet away from him, the others all giggling and silly, waving ten pound notes at the barman, desperate to get more alcohol down their gullets. She’d noticed him earlier…. he knew that. He’d caught her looking several times from the dance-floor. But now she stood there, looking somehow above it all…. feigning indifference like they always did… flaunting herself like a piece of bait. Like she was the hunter? He knew her game.
It was just a matter of getting the technique right. He was staring at himself in the large mirror that stretched for the whole length of the bar. He wouldn’t look directly at her just yet. She’d feel safer that way. Less threatened. But he could see her reflection. He could see her inching her way towards him with every sip of her posh Chardonnay or whatever it was. She knew he was watching her intently as she chatted with the others, laughing and throwing back her mermaid’s hair that fell like soft gossamer around her delicate shoulders. Every so often she’d throw him a furtive glance, checking he was still in sight, checking him out, but still looking around to see if there was anything better in sight. He knew there wasn’t. He smiled at himself secretly in the mirror opposite. Half past midnight…. He was ready. He downed the last of his pint and turned away from the bar.
Bingo. His eyes caught hers… like a fish on a hook. He recognised that familiar feeling… That definite bite! He could start to reel her in now…. slowly, carefully, deliberately.
She felt the pull.
She resisted at first, looking everywhere but at him. Then a quick glance, all of five seconds. He was still looking, head to one side as if questioning her…. Are you coming over or what? No… she wasn’t that easy. She’d play with him for a bit, wouldn’t make it too obvious. Besides, she hadn’t decided yet. She had choices. That’s what they always thought. It was the usual game, this air of nonchalance.
But it was too late. The line had been cast and the bait had been swallowed. Other fish would pass by and she’d be momentarily lost in the sea of bodies.
But he knew he’d caught her.
He could feel the tug.
And now he knew that it was only a matter of time before he’d have her there at his feet…. flapping helplessly in his net.
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