verb, transitive. To twist together intp a confused mass. Usually "be tangled."
verb, intransitive. "Tangle with" To become involved in a conflict or fight with.
Also a noun. A confused or complicated state, a muddle. A fight, argument or disagreement.
Susan thought as she sat at the bare table and waited. She knew someone would enter soon and interrogate her. She needed to be as alert as possible. She had tangled her stories so intricately that she feared she would be unable to keep them straight in her own mind.
She closed her eyes and pictured the setting before the fight began. She hadn't paid much attention to the two men at the bar as she went about her job, taking orders and serving drinks, except to note that they spent more time facing each other than they were spending looking at the ranked bottles of spirits before the mirrored barback. They were not her problem. They were the bartender's responsibility.
Her back had been toward them when she heard the outburst of cries and shattering glass. She turned to see one of the two men's follow-through after he had thrown something. The other was reaching to grab his arms. The bartender was nowhere to be seen. Other customers were leaping to their feet and crying out in fright or anger--difficult to tell. Susan had abandoned the table whose order she had been jotting down and rushed to the bar, to see Buddy, the bartender, struggling to his feet on the slatted floor behind it, blood dripping from a cut on his temple. Shards of a whisky glass lay near him, and a broken bottle on the barback dripped down the mahogany and brass doors.
Susan joined Buddy and supported him as he rose, then staggered.
"We're going in back, Buddy," she told him. "I want to look at that cut in good light."
He murmured, but she couldn't make out words in the rising din of the bar. She was aware that people were swaying and punches were flying near where the two men stood, but her priority was Buddy. She was just realizing that the man who had thrown the glass at him was someone she knew. Knew, but hadn't seen in a long, long time.
"Carlos," she whispered. What was he doing here? I thought he was long out of my life. Now he's turned up again. He was nothing but trouble before and it looks as if he hasn't changed a bit. Surely he hadn't come to see her. Or had he? She had been useful to him once, and he probably thought she might be so again, but she hadn't noticed him eyeing her earlier. Perhaps he hadn't recognized her. She had lost weight and let her hair revert to its natural brown. If he hadn't come to the bar to find her, why had he come?
Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.