Silvia Villalobos is a native of Romania, who lives immersed in the laid-back vibe of Southern California. She writes novels and short fiction....read more Her babies have come to life in Red Fez, Fiction365, and Pure Slush. You can visit her at silviatomasvillalobos.wordpress.com.
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.
The bartender pours again and I sip my wine. It’s a good way to erase home from my mind, the worry that I’ve gone too numb to be normal again. I daydream of a time when I finally do what I want. Run in the direction I desire, with a good man, the man I desire.
A hand falls on my shoulder. “Mia, you ok?”
My fantasy lost, I stare at Trina.
“You went all spacey on me. Sure you’re ok?”
“Miles away, but yes, I’m fine.”
The woman pulls at his arm. Soon, they are wrapped up in one another. She’s playing the seductress perfectly. Is it working? She laughs and steps away, swaying her hips in the direction of the bathroom.
The bar is packed to the door—more cigarette smoke and customers searching for short-acting stimulants or a night of lust. I can’t see him anymore. I’m nearing the end of my drink, and it’s warm in here. Laughter comes easily. I am the target of intense ogling by a younger man who leans against the counter. Blond hair, lawyer-cut, at least ten years younger. He waves, tilting his head like Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not, and I nearly wave back.
I tell Trina I need to use the bathroom. I leave her with her wine and views and do what I shouldn’t do. But it’s my moment of strength or weakness, not sure it matters anymore. I take the long way to the door, as techno music booms at a volume not fashioned for human ears. The tall, dark-haired man is the sole occupant of the candlelit table in the back.
The words spill out of me. “Do you want to go next door?” I ask. “It’s a nicer place for a cozy dinner.”
The reply isn’t immediate, but he smiles. “I thought you were with someone.” He points toward the bar, to the blond man. “What’s your name?”
“Mia. I’m having drinks with a friend.” I clear my throat, trying to calm my voice.
If the tart returns, my plan is dead. Even as I stand, I am having second thoughts about tonight. What am I doing?
“I’m Victor. Sorry, Mia.” His stark tone doesn’t match the words. “I’m expecting someone. Maybe another time.”
Pride forces a smile on my face and guides me back with the shaky steps of the half drunk.
My retreat to the bar is timely. The tart returns, taking her place beside her new friend. Her seducing method is working. I want to look away but curiosity prevents me. Time passes like the sea breeze, swirling around too fast, pulling me—my thoughts—in different directions. When he walks away with her, he turns and smiles at me. A smile to die for, and tonight that might just happen.
My feet drag me into the living room. My husband is there, waiting to greet me.
“You were almost perfect tonight.” Victor’s strong hand slithers around my waist. “But you didn’t complete your mission.”
“Lost my nerve.” I glance around for the blood-red lips. He didn’t bring her home? Didn’t keep his promise to change the game rules for an unruly wife?
His hands explore. He is hot and ready, even though I did not carry out my end of the bargain. I did not get cheap and slutty, have another man touch me, kiss me, fondle me, let my husband watch while he groped another woman. Return home to fill the night with moans and groans.
He kisses my neck. “Last time you did excellent. Drove me crazy.” His hand tightens around my wrist, yanking my hand back. “Tonight you failed.”
Another morsel of hope dies, etching a deeper hole in my heart. This might never end.
His right hand runs up and down my body, stops around my throat. I kick back like so many times before, but he pushes me onto the sofa. He’s strong, as a cop ought to be. He does what pleases him. Try to stop him and you’re reduced to nothing. No one tells him what to do, no one walks out on him, no one says no. I cannot stop him. I’m trapped.
His eyes feast upon the show while he rips at my dress like an animal that hasn’t eaten in months.
The door opens, but he doesn’t hear it. He is the crazed maniac, and I am the disobedient wife who ruined his game.
A shadow creeps across the wall. The woman with blood red lips moves closer, a hand behind her back. She looks at me, her eyes questioning one last time, and I nod. A beat cop shot by the slut from the bar, who stands ready to fix the crime scene and disappear with a year’s worth of my secret savings.
His mouth is against my ear, his hands at my throat, squeezing tighter than before.
The woman pulls the trigger, and my pain is finally over.