Gennie Taylor’ had curly blonde hair and wore Aviator sunglasses so often that the combination of hair and glasses had earned her the nickname Medusa. It stemmed not from her hair looking like snakes, nor her ability to turn people to stone – but that when she wore those Aviators, her expressions were so often stone cold. Don’t get me wrong, she smiled and frowned, pouted and grimaced, but you could never really be sure without seeing the whites of her eyes.
When I say she wore them frequently, I mean nobody saw her without them – in the mornings, afternoon, and evening. She wore them clubbing, in the cinema, and rumour had it, even in bed – no matter who she was with. I didn’t know her well, but I’m one of the few that saw her without those sunglasses – only once.
We moved in the same circles, drank in the same places and shared quite a few nights out, but we never spoke to each other when we weren’t out and certainly never arranged to go for coffee, lunch, etc… so you may ask how I earned the honour of bearing witness to her without those sunglasses.
I’d had a pretty stressful day at work, an unprepared report had gone out and there were going to be repercussions. I’d gone straight down to our usual drinking hole and was nursing my first pint when Gennie and some of her friends had turned up. The place was pretty empty so early, so we racked up the pool table and played while we waited for the place to start filling up.
I’d won the first few games against some of her friends and Gennie was up. She pocketed a ball from the break and got down another three balls before she missed an easy sink, and it was my turn. I’d had a couple of pints by this point, but still managed to get down to the 8 ball pretty quickly. Gennie stood opposite me as I lined up the pocket.
As I went to make the shot, a flash of light reflected off her sunglasses and the shot went wide. I looked up at her to see a subtle smile on her face. She lined up her shot and sunk it without hesitation. I looked around to see where everyone was and since they were all at the bar, I asked, ‘another?’
She stood there for a bit, completely deadpan, before putting a coin in the slot and nodding.
For the next few hours, we played game after game, drinking and talking together more than we’d ever done. Whenever anyone else wanted to play, Gennie would turn to them and glare, stone faced, and they’d walk away.
As the night drew on, we gave up on the pool and just sat down together. We were pretty wasted by this point and as the last bell rang declaring last orders, we had a decision to make. Call it or night or move on to somewhere else, ‘Shall we go into town?’ I asked.
Again, I waited for her reaction staring at myself in the reflection of the sunglass. She sat there, holding up a shot of vodka in mid-air before downing it, taking my hand and walking out of the bar together.
Now we did something categorically and unmistakably stupid, we got into her car and drove off from the bar. Lights danced off her glasses as we drove through the city, my head spinning, the corners making me feel sick – then the blue lights began flashing and panic sobered me up pretty quick.
Gennie pulled over to the side of the road and we waited. I could smell the alcohol on her breath, and she could tell I was getting nervous because as the police officer approached, she reached out and put her hand on my thigh to calm me down.
She wound the window down and the police officer bent over to talk to her, she turned away from me, flicked her hair back and lifted up her sunglasses. The police officer stood there, still as stone and stared into her eyes with his mouth agape, ‘your brake lights’ he mumbled.
She pulled down her sunglasses, wound up the window and we drove off, leaving the police officer standing in the road. In the rear-view mirror, I saw him walk back to the car and just sit there as we drove out of sight.