I am sitting at the bar with my friend Trina. She is arguing the same old points of love and commitment, but I’m only partially listening. I have seen a man. His hair is tousled, dark. The lion tattoos on his arms stand out; as does his Greek god build.
He moves past the candlelit tables, and I lose sight of him. Trina’s words, a collection of fragmented sounds, catch my attention again. I nod and say, “Yeah, I absolutely get that,” but I glance away, searching for the tall man.
A woman slides into the chair next to him. She is what some call a tart, wearing thigh-high stockings and a schoolgirl dress. Too much makeup. The candlelight casts a glow upon blood-red lips she traces with her tongue.
A hint of awkwardness passes between them, as if they just met. Of course, she’s the kind some men look to encounter in bars. The perfect tart. The man seems pleased, a smile easing onto his face, although a bit distant. Still unsure, exploring the scene for better possibilities. Our eyes meet, but only for a second. The woman pulls her chair closer and leans in cat-like, purring her way through the seduction game. Her arm snakes around him. She reaches up and whispers into his ear, moving her lips in the shape of words that can only be dirty—slowly, sensuously.
The waiter takes drinks to their table, beer for him and something with an orange slice on the side for her. All three engage in animated conversation, the server blocking my view.
Trina has my attention once more. She spews out an endless barrage of words that jump from topic to topic. She asks the questions and answers them herself, making it easy to feign interest in a bar full of cigarette smoke, meandering Mae Wests and Don Juans. I am thankful her back is turned to the candlelit tables; thankful she inhabits her own world, oblivious of all else. Then suddenly she stops and that alarms me. Trina points to my empty glass. “More wine?”
I nod, and she snaps her fingers at the bartender.
He looks at me again and I freeze like a stone. I should smile, but it’s a long way from drinks with Trina to flirting in a bar. There’s want in his eyes, something of a play, as if wondering which way to start the night—instant satisfaction or drawn-out sexual intrigue.
I recognize the butterflies I haven’t felt in some time. There’s fear, too. Not many steps separate danger from disaster. I wash it all down with wine and smile at Trina, who’s moved on to the prices of gas and lack of fashion sense in America. Trina is like that.
My head hurts. I should put an end to the game before it kicks off and go home. The life I live is not mine anymore, but it has some decent days. Marrying a cop sure changes a woman’s life—the work hours, the discipline, the ‘do as we please’ mentality.
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by Matthew Daley
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