Speaking loudly, face to face, a strangers' heart is thus confessed.
    And though to bare was not intended, she now is feeling strong and bold.
Acquaintance made an hour ago through smoke and noise this union blessed.
    A lonely heart, a tortured soul now spills what shallow masks can't hold.

Now seemingly engrossed in her, this man she bares her heart to smiles,
    As if to say she has no need her fragile fears and faiths defend.
He fully understands her woes, her bitter torment of lifes past miles
    In me, he seems to tell her softly, you have no fears, you've found a friend.

A friend in need, a friend indeed, this stranger feigns intent concern.
    Ritual courtship rite ensues, the jungle now a bar at night.
The would-be suitor is acting through the rooted need for trust to earn.
    Actions, outcomes, juggled deftly, unconcerned to wrong or right.

The bribes are offered, the payment transferred; drinks to table, cash to tray.
    A contract hazy as space between them, drafted slowly, never sound.
Every sip a word is added, every glass the terms less grey.
    With every dollar he feels hopeful, with every cent, she more bound.

Spotting there this confrontation a third considers taking side.
    Internal conflicts keeps him watching moving faces, hands and eyes.
Honesty pure from this view shines out, likewise lies just cannot hide.
    Decision made to intercept; protect the trust, attack the lies.

A glance, a smile, eyes locking then, confessions stop a bit too long,
    The predator turns and sees the competition moving in to range.
Again the eyes lock, man to man now, daggers sound a warning gong.
    Not perceiving true intentions, predator finds encroachment strange.

Eyes inviting, smile confirming, a nod which points to open chair.
    Introductions all around, attention added perks her soul.
Conversations then continue, newcomer causing first's despair.
    Shouldering, so to speak, between them, gently rearranging roll.

Subtle hints and innuendoes leads one to finally realize
    Though not a single blow was struck, nor drop of blood to show the fight
The hunter, the night 'till now quite sure has somehow lost his hoped for prize,
    And feigning friends, a glance, a wave, excuse me please, he takes to flight.

Now concern displayed is there, interest shown deep felt and true.
    The innocent saved from needless pain, added on to years abuse.
All to boost a man's esteem, no single thought to victims rue.
    A night, a score, a story told to friends before the next night's cruise.

This time is different, she can't tell why as what she sees so rare displayed.
    A frown, then gone, she tries to place what seems so different about this man.
To admit no pretense to ignore is to come to grips that her life's been made
    Of lies accepted, cheap walls constructed to hide her pain as best she can.

The hours pass, a world separate, friendship builds, relaxed against
    A gentle background noise of voices, clinking glasses, laughs afar.
Hand in hand they leave and notice other battles, stiff and tense.
    They recognize with nervous laugh they too were trapped - this scene at bar.

                -- Flip Nehrt