Wednesday 13 July 2022

The Woman in the Red Straw Hat by Lynn Clement, Bellini with a Twist

 The woman in the red straw hat floated by the pool. Her bright blue kimono trailed behind her as the sea breeze blew it away from her long-tanned legs.

 Several male eyes were peering over their sunglasses. One man put down his Sudoku on his sun bed and openly stared. His wife slapped his arm.

The woman in the red straw hat was wearing a crimson swimsuit with tiny blue cornflowers embroidered on it. The front panel was ruched. She’d recently had a baby and wasn’t happy with her mummy tummy, so chose to disguise it.

She arrived at the pool bar and elegantly slid herself onto a high-backed stool, placing her phone and a pack of cigarettes on the bar.

The barman practically shoved the female bartender out of the way.

‘How may I help you today?’ he said in perfect English but with a natural Greek accent.

The woman looked from under the brim of her hat. Huge brown eyes addressed the barman, whose heart thumped.

‘Bellini please,’ she said in a voice as manicured as her red scarlet nails, then picked up her phone. She smiled as she read the message and held the phone up taking a selfie which she sent to the messenger.

‘Bellini!’ he ordered to the female bartender.

Four men sitting on sunbeds round the pool, had asked their wives and girlfriends if they need a drink and barely listened to the answer before making their way to the pool bar, even though the drinks kiosk was nearer for some.

‘May I say, you look absolutely lovely,’ said the barman, who had ignored most other customers waiting to be served. He had taken the Bellini from his colleague and placed it in front of the woman.

‘You may say so,’ she said, ‘but I warn you it’s rather sexist to comment on my looks.’

The barman was flustered. He didn’t want to blow it with this woman. He’d had several conquests already this summer, but this woman was different. So attractive. Aloof and she had something mysterious about her.

‘I apologize,’ he flustered. ‘I didn’t mean to offend.’

‘No offence taken,’ she said, removing a cigarette from the packet on the bar.

A lighter flicked by her face.

‘Let me,’ the owner said.

‘Derek!’ said his wife who had joined him at the bar, unbeknown to him. ‘I’ve got a headache, let’s go up to our room,’ she finalized.

Derek slunk off.

The barman smiled showing his canine teeth.

He moved to the back of the bar but did not take his eyes off the woman. Imagining the nights of passion, once he’d charmed his way into her affections. He knew the women on holiday couldn’t resist him, especially the English. He was notorious amongst the Hotel Team. His bosses didn’t like it but knew he kept the customers happy and as long as he didn’t overstep the mark… He was determined to have her.

She looked at her phone again, smiling.

‘Another Bellini,’ she said into the air. This time the barman made it himself.

A woman wearing pigtails, dressed in light pink shorts and white T shirt pushed a baby buggy up to the bar.

The female bartender waved at her and she waved back.

The barman placed the Bellini in front of the woman in the red straw hat.

‘It’s for her,’ she said.

‘You buy your nanny Bellinis!’ said the barman with disdain.

The woman laughed and the female bartender smirked.

The woman with the pigtails parked the baby in the buggy next to his mother, who kissed her fingertips and placed them on the baby’s nose.

The barman watched. She has a baby, he thought, so what. There’s been no man around. If the nanny looks after the kid while he and his mother have loving time, all will be okay. In fact, looking at her with the baby, made him want her more.

‘How are you feeling?’ the woman asked the nanny.

‘Much better now, thank you.’

The barman watched the exchange. He wished the nanny would go away and leave him alone with the woman in the red straw hat, so he could work on her some more. He needed to make amends for his sexist comment. What should he say next? Maybe he will touch her hand when she orders her next cocktail.

The two women chinked glasses.

Good, they’re drinking quickly, he thought. Time to make another move.

‘Two more Bellinis please,’ said the woman with pigtails.

What a cheek, thought the barman. Who does she think she is, ordering more Bellinis.

‘My lady?’ he queried.

‘Yes please,’ she said.

Once again, the barman made the cocktails and took them to the two women. This time he did touch the woman in the red straw hat’s hand and looked deep into her eyes.

She smiled. ‘I think it’s nap time,’ she said. ‘Let’s take these upstairs with us.’

The barman felt his loins stirring. His heart beat a little faster and he broke out a sweat on his brow. He gulped, ready to answer. His mouth was dry. Boom, he thought.

‘Yes let’s,’ said the woman with the pigtails. ‘I’m ready for an afternoon nap.’

The woman in the red straw hat picked up the two Bellinis and bent forward kissing the other woman full on the lips.

The barman gripped the edge of the bar. He felt his knees buckle a little.

His co-bar worker laughed out loud, as the two women strolled away towards their room.

The barman looked at her with his mouth open.

‘They’re on their honeymoon,’ she said with a knowing smile, and turned to serve one of the other deflated men left standing at the bar.


Author Bio

Lynn Clement is a regular author for Cafelit. Her first collection The City of Stories was published last year by Chapeltown Books. Lynn has a story in Aftermath and also a story in The Best of Cafelit 11, soon to be published.


You can follow Lynn on (1) Lynn Clement | Facebook

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