Who is She?

This week I went to the Bay Horse pub in the Northern Quarter. I was with Sir Pubert Gladstone (He requested a pseudonym, so he got one.) who informed me of a ‘lady in a glass box’ located downstairs in the basement. I went to investigate and sure enough, there she was. A blonde, sunglasses-wearing lady staring at a bird in a cage. Who is she? And what was she doing in the basement of a fairly average pub? This lovely lady and a bit of Nick Cave and the Black Seeds have prompted the following story.

Lucy and the Bird

Lucy’s limbs flail as she dances in the corner of the Bay Horse basement to the music that only she can hear. She dances alone in an almost empty room, everyone else settled in booths sipping whisky and beer, conversation underway. She has been here before. Every night, in fact, for what feels like forever. Next to her a bird sits silently and motionless in a silver cage, watching the scene unfold. Only its eyes flick back and forth, back and forth as the clientele pass. Few people notice the bird and those who do are disappointed by it. A dry martini sits untasted on a small mantle next to a half-melted candle and a stack of Jim Beam coasters. Lucy has the same drink every night but never takes a sip. The owners don’t ask what she would like; they simply nod at her and pour. Her blank face shows no response, she simply treats the small glass as a fee for being there.

Lucy is given a wide berth as she dances, her eyes covered in dark, rounded sunglasses. Her peroxide blonde wig is dry and frizzy; fibrous strands pickup static charge as her hands brush past it. Her legs are encased in criss-cross stockings; shoeless, she dances unflinching as her feet stick to years of sticky alcohol accretion.

Upstairs the bell rings for last drinks and the small crowd finish the last drops of precious liquid, pull on jackets and leave. Lucy continues to dance in her corner, bar staff collecting empties and placing chairs on tables around her. A quick mop just for the sake of it, the final glasses washed and put away for tomorrow. The doors are locked and the lights turned off, leaving Lucy and the bird together in the darkness of the Bay Horse basement.

Lady at the Bay Horse

Lady at the Bay Horse

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