An instant that had remained in a second, a brief instant that is lost among the faces of that crowded place. There is a latent stress, I can taste it. I know those eyes, those crossing stressing looks, those attentive looks. Too many eyes. I haven't forgot why we're in this place. Nothing can't distract us. We had made a great bet. I still feel the stress, too much stress. Something is happening. I can smell it. I can foresee.
Gharin has approached a table. It's full with empty jars and some liquor bottles.
One of the girls is going to clean it. I notice Gharin studying her with sharp eye, the whole of her. He smiles at her. He likes her. She smiles at him too, but it's a forced smile. I'm busy, observing the stressing enviroment. I had not realized she is the one who is serving us. I can not be distracted, so I go on watching. I hear Gharin asking some ale for us. So many years traveling togheter make unnecesary to question some likes. The serving girl passes by me. She smells like beer and cheap perfume. Probably it's not hers. Her hair is impregnated with burned wood from the kitchens. When she passes by me she leave her smell on me: a campfire under the stars, early morning chats, a cup of spirit before closing the eyes. It smells like liberty and horizons... and then I look at that place full of smoke and noise. A chorus of too much painted girls -the Bocas fashion- look at the customers from the mezzanine. They are almost a sample book. A product catalogue of this place. It's everything except liberty, everything except the horizon.
The serving girl is coming back. She has short hair and she is petite, almost fragile. She desappears among the men of that crowded hovel. Her face is sweet but she has fierce eyes. She passes by me again to serve our ales. The smell of the kitchens comes back. I'm smelling dungeons and prisions. I don't know why. There is something that makes me feel so sad, but I can't explain it. I look at her and something inside me breaks. I try to keep my concentration. I'm there for other reasons and the stress in the air beats me strongly again. Too many angry gazes. I've already said it to Gharin. Something is happening here.
I can hear Gharin flirting with the girl. It is as always. I think he fancies her just because she is a serving girl and she can not alternate. His ability is to provoke. I listen to a lost sentence in a conversation. She has been searching to stay with us. She spents a lot of her time to serve us. She is cleaning the same portion of the table. If she goes on doing it, she will make a hole.
"I would finish my drink and I would off the tavern. It's a bad night to stay here. I have said nothing."
«I have said nothing». I look at her. Her pupils pretend to be strong, they want to mantain my look, but finally they fail. She feels herself guilty. She knows something. It's an advise. She is not faking. She is trying to tell us something. Something is happening, she knows it and I want to know it. I'm betting my life, we are betting our life.
My hand fixes her wrist to the table. She doesn't wait the movement. She is in shock. She looks at my gesture frightened. I'm used to this kind of looks. Her expression has changed. I imagined it wouldn't be forever. However, now she is not the woman whose eyes confused me. Now, she is the person whose lips have the chance to give us the advantage in the destiny game. A game whose bet is our lifes.
"I want to know what is happening here." My face forces a smile. "Smile" She also knows how to fake a smile. "Pretend to enjoy the conversation."
But the fate had laid the cards on the table. I still didn't know it. I was about to know it.