The Barmaid is a Consummate Artist
by Kunal S. Modi
Bella watches through table-glass as Yuri executes a point-perfect chasse along the bar. Yuri is never so sad, Bella thinks, as when he is showing-off. He stirs for another performance in front of his potted audience, loudly greeting Bella with the American diminutive ‘babe’ so they can all hear him. This causes a chuckle to distribute amongst the reverent crowd. They think him a god. But to Bella, he is a clown.
He leans over the bar, as if about to plant a kiss on her cheek, and says; ‘Could you pour me four vodkas and a half beer, babe?’
‘Is that half-sized beer for your half-sized penis, ballerino?’ Bella replies, drawing a much louder roar of laughter from the faithful.
That evening when Yuri arrives home, he is plagued by the laughter. Drunk and biting with rage, he decides to go back into town to get his revenge on Bella. At the bar, Yuri finds Bella alone in the lounge.
‘Why must you be such a pig, ballerino? You dance like a new flame, but you act like an old fool,’ Bella says, drying her glassware with a white teacloth.
The frankness of the statement disarms Yuri of his anger. ‘I’m sorry. I was only trying to entertain my guests.’
‘Those sycophants, you could entertain them by misting their spectacles with your beer breath. Besides, you should always consider my feelings first!’ Bella says, addressing the dancer in a more jovial tone than before. ‘Now, let me boil a pot of tea to help sober you up.’
As Bella pours the tea into her favourite steklo for Yuri, he wonders out-loud what her fascination is with the faceted glass. ‘Look carefully,’ she explains, ‘if you stare through the surface of the glass toward the light, you can see many dancing Berehynias.’
Poor, inebriated Yuri doesn’t understand the simple concept – that one might correlate the movement of light to the motion of fairies, as one does the grace of a ballerina to a delphinium floating in the atmosphere – so Bella decides to show him.
‘Here, I’ll demonstrate with my glass,’ she says, seating herself around the side of the bar on which Yuri has never seen her. She lifts her glass up to his face and begins to slowly turn it. Yuri is mesmerised by the motion.
‘See,’ she exclaims, stealing away the vessel just as he is becoming completely transfixed, ‘it is like many dancing Berehynias!’
Yuri picks up his own glass – half filled with hot, red tea – and begins to swirl it carelessly. ‘You’re right,’ he says unevenly, ‘it’s beautiful. Like a million, angelic Berehynias performing a perfect pirouette.’
Bella brings her face closer in. Together, they watch the light dance tenderly through the steaming glass. It refracts and folds, then starts over again.