Music of the Night – Part 2  

           by Sara



Luka fumbled drunkenly with his key, trying to force it into the lock. With his eyesight going hazy, there seemed to be two doors instead of one. Eventually, Luka managed to unlock the door and stumble into his apartment. It was cold and dark. Feeling exhausted, Luka decided to go straight to bed. He swayed through the hallway, holding onto the wall for support, and swerved into the bedroom. Luka threw his coat on the floor and collapsed, flat on his back, onto the bed. Without expecting to, he let out a loud, resonant belch before bursting into a fit of giggles. It had been a very long time since he had been this drunk. Luka lay there, still fully dressed, watching the ceiling through the semi-darkness, fascinated by the lightbulb that hung from its flex without a shade, which seemed to him to be spinning round and round very fast. He closed his eyes and groaned, but the room continued to rotate. Gradually, Luka began to fall asleep.

In what seemed only a blink of an eye, Luka was suddenly shocked awake by loud music coming from the apartment above. Luka moaned loudly and heaved himself over on the bed, grabbing a pillow and wrapping it over his ears. He loved Queen, but not played at that volume, when he had the worst hang-over known to man.

The memories of the night before were very hazy, coming back to him in confused waves. Gradually he recalled the bar and the music, the rows of empty Tuborg bottles lined up on the table in front of him. And suddenly he remembered….that girl – that beautiful, mysterious pianist with the wonderful eyes, who was there for a moment and then gone. Who was she? Luka’s head throbbed painfully, but all he could think about was going back to that bar to find her, to talk to her. It was crazy to feel this way about a stranger he had seen for only five minutes, but Luka could not get her out of his mind. He rolled off the bed and went into the tiny bathroom to shower away the grogginess of his hang-over.

Having decided against breakfast, Luka was soon out of the house and making his way back to the bar. The bright Saturday morning sunshine reflected off the crisp white snow hurt his eyes and made him squint. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, the hot smoke stinging his dry mouth and throat.

As Luka approached the side street, his heart beating quickly in anticipation, he was suddenly grabbed from behind by a pair of gloved hands.

“Hey, Kovac! You’re not on today, why the hell aren’t you still in bed?”
Luka turned round to find his assailant was John Carter, a young Resident from the hospital ER department. Carter grinned at Luka’s startled reaction.

“Good morning, John, you nearly gave me a heart attack!” Luka laughed, dropping his cigarette into the snow and extinguishing it with his boot, “No, I’m just out for a walk, you know….Listen, do you ever go to that bar down that street?”

Carter glanced in the direction Luka was pointing, and shrugged,

“Yeah, I’ve been in there a few times, but not at this time of the morning….It’s owned by a guy from Scotland, they have traditional Scottish music there quite a lot. We went there on Burns’ Night once, and believe me, those Scots know how to party! I’ve never seen so many men wearing skirts before…”

“What d’you mean?” Luka asked, looking confused.

“You know, those kilts Scottish men wear. Haleh and Lydia got really drunk and went around the bar trying to see what the guys were wearing underneath their kilts – nearly got us all thrown out of there!”

Luka laughed. The nurses did get quite rowdy when they all got together, so he could quite imagine what might happen when alcohol entered the equation. Although, he could hardly judge them after the way he had rolled home last night, drunk as a lord. Yes, those Scots really did know how to party.

“Oh shoot, I gotta go, I’ll be late and Weaver will have my guts for garters!” Carter patted Luka on the arm and headed off toward the hospital.

Luka crossed the street and, making sure Carter was not looking, went into the bar.

“Sorry, pal, we’re no open yet!” called a man’s heavily-accented voice from behind the bar as Luka pushed open the door. He turned to leave, but as he did, the bar tender stood up and smiled.

“Oh, it’s you, Dr Luka! How are ye doin? Get home alright I hope?”

Luka looked blank for a moment and the bar-tender laughed.

“Don’t ye remember last night? Aye well, ye were very pished!”

Luka smiled, embarrassed. He must have been chatting with people – what on earth had he said?

“Yes, it was… a very good night.” Luka paused, then added, “I enjoyed the music very much. Do you have bands here every night?”

“Aye, most nights we have a few songs. There’s quite a crowd of Scots living round here, and plenty more with Scottish ancestors. You’ll have to come and give us a song some time!”

Luka laughed.

“Tell me, will the young lady who plays the piano be coming back? She played so beautifully.”

The bar-tender smiled. “Aye, that’s ma wee daughter Rebecca. She’s here every night, but she doesnae always play – she’s very shy.”

“Oh….” began Luka, stopping as he noticed the girl standing in the doorway behind her father. She had a wry smile on her face, and approached them.

“Dad, stop talking about me behind ma back!” she laughed, blushing slightly.

“Oh, sorry, Becky, I didnae see ye there!” said the bar-tender, “Here’s a fan of yours”

Now it was Luka’s turn to blush. He looked at Rebecca and caught her eye again briefly before she dropped her gaze, just as she had the night before. The girl turned to her father.

“Dad, I’ve made a pot of tea, d’you want a cup?”

“Och, no, lassie, I’ve a lot to do in the cellar before opening time.” The bar-tender pecked his daughter on the cheek and went out of the room.

There was an awkward pause as Luka and Rebecca stood there, until she said,

“Well…..would you like a cup of tea? It’s cold out there.”

Luka smiled. “Yes, that would be very nice.”

Rebecca poured the last tea from the pot into Luka’s cup.

“So,” she said, “How’ve ye taken to America?”
Luka paused for a moment before replying, “It’s…. a different world, I think. So big, so.. crazy.”

“Aye,” agreed Rebecca. “I know what you mean. There’s the image ye have in your mind of the place, from TV and films, but when ye get here it just…blows ye away. I miss home, though…don’t you?”

Luka nodded. It was refreshing to speak to someone who was also a kind of outsider. For all the variety of different people there were in this huge country, they would both always be viewed as foreigners.

As Rebecca stirred her tea, Luka found himself transfixed by her delicate hand; the long, elegant fingers and slim wrist. He felt overwhelmed by a desire to take her hand and hold it. His heart was beating fast being this near to her, talking with her. Her soft Scottish burr had made conversation quite difficult at first; Luka’s English was improving every day but he lost a few words due to her accent.

He sat quietly as she told him of her home in Scotland, describing the wild heather-strewn hills and the majestic, historical cities. She was very animated as she spoke, projecting a great love for her home, thousands of miles away.

She asked him about his home, and listened, transfixed, as Luka told her all about Croatia. As he talked about the beautiful, blue seas of the Dalmatian coast, it occurred to him that they were both very similar. It seemed crazy, coming from such different countries, but they were both identifying with the same feelings. Luka felt an increasing warmth towards Rebecca as they talked, and he knew he wanted to see her again; spend more time talking. He decided to throw caution to the wind and ask her out on a date.

He stared intently into his tea cup, took a deep breath, and said,

“Rebecca, I was wondering….would you like to have dinner with me this evening?”

“Oh, Luka…I don’t know…I…” Rebecca suddenly appeared terribly uncomfortable, and Luka felt the warmth between them evaporating instantly. He tried to take back his words, clumsily apologising. She had already stood up, and was busying herself with the empty tea pot and cups. Luka stood up too quickly, his long legs knocking into the table violently. The teapot and cups slid off the table and crashed to the floor, smashing noisily into bits. They both exclaimed apologies and crouched down, both trying to pick up more pieces than the other, both trying to take the blame for the accident. Luka found the spout from the tea-pot, and offered it to Rebecca, just as she picked up the tea-pot’s handle. She looked at the broken pieces for a moment, looked at Luka, and he watched as a smirk crept across her face. He began to giggle too, and soon they were both laughing uncontrollably at the absurdity of the situation.

“Yes” said Rebecca, wiping away a tear.

“Yes what?” asked Luka, still giddy from laughing.

“Yes, I will have dinner with you tonight….as long as you don’t knock all the crockery off the table!”

Luka smiled, standing up. “I’ll try, but I can’t promise.”

“Pick me up here then, at about seven?”


“Oy, what’s going on in here? Have you trashed the place, Becks?” Rebecca’s father was heaving a big crate of beer into the bar from the cellar.

Rebecca held up the spout and handle, and began laughing again. Luka joined in, and the bar tender shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, it’s good to see ye laughing again, Becks. You can come here again, pal, but we’ll give ye a plastic cup next time. I can’t afford any more breakages!”


to part 3

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