The words over at Three Word Wednesday are compromise, decision and forward. It’s about time I get back to this writing thing.
His forward motion feels good; the night is gray, overcast and a heavy snow falls, the kind of snow that sticks to everything like powdered sugar. He walks gingerly, not because of the tequila shots and the beers, but he’s wearing slip-on dress shoes that are most inappropriate for this kind of weather.
Still, he walks. With purpose. His breath comes out like a steam whistle, all hot and cloudy, full of determination alright. He’s chugging home, or at least to his truck, which he ditched at the last bar, convinced by his buddies that this club would be different. Better. A “target-rich environment” they all said.
It’s a decision that’s left him with this rather long slog. Time to ponder, he thinks, maybe sort some things out. And sober up a little.
He cuts across Broadway in the middle of the block, so he can be on the same side of the street where his truck is parked. Even though there’s plenty of time before he gets there.
Some 17 glorious blocks to go.
The night is quiet and there’s no wind. The snow falls silent, in straight lines. He passes a sign he finds funny and pulls out his mobile to snap a picture, which he uploads to a few social media sites he favors. His feet are cold. He’s not wearing socks. An oversight, he thinks, considering the change in the weather.
He comes to the creek that cuts the town in half; where he crosses it’s been concreted in, a glorified ditch with little patchy islands of dead and dying grass humps, now covered in snow. He stops, hooks the heel of his shoe onto the metal railing, causing an extra snow squall to hit the weak-flowing water.
He grips the top rail, feels the cold, like a burn, spread across his palms. He smiles, sighs. He puts his palms to his face and the cold is sharp, sweet. His eyebrows curl into arches and his eyes bulge out a little. He brings his hands forward and touches his fingertips to his chapped lips. He shoots a hand to his jeans, feels again for the tube of lip balm that he already knows is still in his truck.
He could have asked her for some, he thinks.
What’s the protocol for that, anyway?
He shakes his head, turns from the stream and stuffs clenched fists into his pockets. The snow gathers on his jacket, a wool sports coat, and he thinks he smells a little bit like wet lamb. It could be worse, he thinks. He could have ditched the jacket in the truck too, like the lip balm. He shrugs his shoulders rapidly, hoping the motion will knock some of the snow free, maybe warm him up a little.
Time - and a little distance from that last tequila shot – has brought the evening into piercing focus. Maybe it’s the cold, too, he thinks. You never know. He replays the night in his head again, pulls a hand from his pants pocket and scratches the stubble across his chin.
It did happen.
Happened exactly as he remembers it, too. No embellishments needed.
One minute he’s hugging the wall, watching everyone else dancing, a longneck hooked in the fingers of his left hand, his thumb hooked in a belt loop. He got a shoulder to the wall and slumps a little.
She grazes past him, even though there’s plenty of room to move, and sloshes a little of the tequila out of the two shot glasses she’s carrying in each hand.
“Hey,” she says, and turns to him. “Drink this. I can’t find the bitch I bought it for.”
He transfers the beer to his right hand and takes the shot. She clicks glasses and they shoot the tequila together, making all the contorted faces people make when they shoot tequila.
“Tessa,” she says, rubbing a thumb across her lips.
“Jon,” he yells, a little too loud, trying to compensate for the shitty techno that’s leaking form the dance floor.
“Uh, huh,” she says. “You need another shot there, slugger.”
And before he can refuse, she wades into the crowd and is gone.
He takes a pull from the longneck and ponders his options, which, at this point, are disappear, or stay and see if she comes back.
He taps an index finger rapidly across his lips. And stays put, watching the exact spot where she melded into the crowd.
“Whatcha looking at?” she asks, coming up from behind with two more shots in one hand, two fresh beers in the other.
“Thought I knew that guy,” he says. “Wasn’t who I thought it was.”
“Here, handsome,” she says, winks, and they down the tequila, make the faces, then each takes a pull on the beers she’s brought.
He can see the truck up the block, maybe two, so he condenses the evening into quick snippets in his mind; it’s like he’s drawn one of those flip comics on the edge of a pad of paper and now he’s filing through them rapidly toward the end. There was dancing, awkward at first, better as the shots flowed.
Then she grazed his lips with hers, off the dance floor, and only for the briefest of moments, her warm hands resting inside his jacket, gripping his chest.
It takes his breath away.
She doesn’t notice this.
She clasps his hand in hers, nudges her head toward the bathrooms.
There’s kissing, then several intimate, compromising positions in a narrow stall that smells vaguely of pee and perfume.
Clumsy goodbyes are said. She returns to her group, turns, winks and waves.
He empties into the street, deciding to walk. He texts his friends, turns and takes his first few wobbly steps back toward downtown.
He reaches the truck, and with a hand tucked into his jacket sleeve, wipes away the snow from his windshield, the back window, the driver’s side door handle.
He fishes cold fingers into his pocket, trying to hook his keys and instead pulls out the white cotton boy shorts he’s removed from her. The very ones he slid down with both hands, starting with one flat against her taut stomach, the other resting on her lower back. She gasped when he did so; then she hooked a thumb into the waistband and slithered expertly out of them.
Slowly, he stretches the panties out between his hands. And lip-reads the seven digits she’s scrawled in purplish lip gloss.
And thrusts his arms into the air, screaming hot vapor, victory, into the frigid darkness.