"Four hours of sleep?" she thinks, "I might as well stay up."
Tossing her chef jacket aside, she heads out the back of the restaurant, through the kitchen, through her tiny apartment, and out the back door.
A meteor shower, or meteor downpour rather, greets her eyes when she steps out into the balmy air. The lights flicker and propel across the sky, then slow as they dither away behind the silhouettes of stocky buildings. Ann heads down Main Street to O'Harley's tavern, passing the leaky fountain that she usually only sees from behind a restaurant window.
The bar is far from empty. Bar stools and pool tables are occupied by a plethora of characters, from community college fraternity kids to drunken motorcycle men with grey, stringy beards. For as many years as she's lived and worked in this town, the only people she's truly gotten to know were the butcher at the market and regulars at the restaurant, so fresh faces are a pleasant change. One face, however, is not so pleasant. A man sits wedged in the corner of the room, scanning every single person as if he was searching for a murderer. Three sips of chilly beer later, a woman sits in the vacant stool next to Ann. The man across the room moves his gaze towards Ann and the stranger. The woman's bright red hair twists, curls and whips every which-way, orange freckles dapple her cheeks and nose, and her voice is that of a leprechaun, distracting enough for Ann to forget for a moment about the man staring them down.
"Do ye mind if I set with ye?" she asks Ann with a crooked smile.
"Not at all," she replies quickly.
"What breengs ye teh the bar this leht in the evenin'?"
"Just needed a change of scenery, I guess, and you?"
"Well, teh be quite honest with ye, I'd much like teh have a smook, but I've told mehself I'll only be a soocial smohker, that wehy I don't do it too often ye know, so I came luhkin' fer someone to smook with- so it becomes a soocial event, ye know. Does that mek sense?"
"Oh sure. Would you like to go outside for a smoke?" she says, beer in one hand and her own pack in the other.
"I'd like that very mooch!" the redheaded woman replied.
Out on the patio, the two stood, gazing at the falling stars, sipping their cigarettes and chatting about nothing in particular. Unbeknownst to Ann, a little boy, no more than five years old, creeps out from behind an empty discarded keg and tip-toes towards Ann's purse. For only a fraction of a second, the redheaded woman's eyes dart to the boy and back to Ann's, locking eye contact with her, holding her in an inescapable gaze. The boy delicately reaches into her bag, fiddles only for a moment, and retrieves her wallet- without a blink, without a sound. At that exact moment, the back door opens from the inside, and a man, the one that was staring at Ann from across the bar earlier, literally catches the boy red-handed. He grabs the boy's skinny, freckled arm and yells in his own leprechaun voice,
"Winsley, me oown nephew, what on earth are ye dooin'?"