Rewrite: A Less Common Girl...(offici...
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|Fri, 05-19-2000 - 9:51pm|
Rewrite: A Less Common Girl...(official may exercise and last post for the month).
Lovey Clay was dead drunk and she knew it. She was lying face up on the hard wooden bench outside of Kelley’s Pub trying not to vomit. She placed one leg on the sidewalk to ‘ground’ herself. Her mother always said that would help stop the world from spinning when you were soused. It wasn’t helping. She couldn’t remember if her mother had a remedy for the turning-thirty-blues, but she guessed she was just going to have to wing this one. Thirty. The boys that pumped her gas would start calling her ‘Lady’ or worse yet ‘Mam’. God forbid. She was no longer the hot 22 year old that captured the attention of every guy in the office, she would no longer set the trends for hair-styles or hem-lines. Maybe it was for the best, she was tired of all that crap anyway. Maybe she would just cozy up in her two bedroom bungalow and start quilting, better yet don twin-sets and pearls and throw ‘Bunko’ parties. God, this sucked. Have you seen high school girls lately? Do you remember how shiny their hair is, how supple and dewey their skin is? Jesus, those tight little asses? That was no longer her. She was the dame with the died-one-too-many-shades-of-auburn trendy cut and laugh lines to match her subtle crow’s feet. She tried to think, but her thoughts ran the gamut from buying new nail polish to seduction schemes for interns at the office. Lovey Clay fell asleep on that hard wooden bench outside of Kelley’s Pub, trying not to vomit.
“Hey,” someone was kicking her foot, her new Prada pump slid under the bench to reveal tiny toenails painted ‘I’m not really a waitress’ red. She didn’t look up, “You’re gonna throw up if you lay like that.”
“I’m going to throw up if I breathe” She was in that state of mind where you are completely without self-conscious and you just don’t care that you’re bond-girl red panties are on display for the all of the college boys walking the strip.
“You’re a stranger.” She threw her arm over her face because she just didn’t care what this guy had to say.
“Can I sit?”
“Is this the only bench or something?” She was becoming annoyed.
“No, it looks like you’ve already visited the other bench. Or someone else who had a bit too much tequila and apparently…a bean burrito” He said surveying the damage.
“Really?” She moved her arm and glanced up at him. He was familiar, she had seen him before tonight. Very cute, great dancer. They shared one of those ‘movie’ moments where two very attractive people glance at one another from across a crowded room and time stands still, but Lovey got that all the time.
“Yeah. So, what do you say sister?”
“Ya know, I would oblige you, truly I would but you see I can’t seem to move my legs or head.” She donned her well-trained Kentucky bred southern accent. She had retained the ability to flirt, apparently.
“Look, I’ll just sit up here and you can put your head in my lap. Deal?” Before she could protest, he had lifted and placed her head on his thighs. He must’ve been a bit bonzer himself as he was running his fingers casually through her hair.
“I was flirting with you earlier, didn’t you notice?”
“Yeah, you were miss energy out there on the dance floor, what happened to you?”
“Miss energy met Mr. Daniels and Mr. Martini.”
“Ohhh, man. That’s a nasty drunk. You gotta stick with one type of alcohol. Me, I’m a White Russian kind of guy myself. You should try those, atleast when you get smashed, they taste alright coming up.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“I tried to get close to you, ya know, but you’re unapproachable. You’ve got that whole posse of chicks you’re hanging with, not too mention the guys …….”
“Well, what can I say? I’m just a man-killer.” She looked good tonight and she knew it. Her hair was perfect, she had a nice natural tan from working in her yard, she was wearing her matching red bra and panty set from Victoria’s Secret and her lucky silver hoop earrings. Not to mention the new shoes, which made her legs look fabulous. You could pass off a mini-skirt from Target if you invested in a great pair of shoes.
“Well, you can dance your ass off, that’s for sure. Not that bump and grind thing most of the chicks try to pass off. You break a sweat.” It was true, Lovey had an amazing capacity for fun and enjoyment and she was rather un-concerned with how she appeared to others. As long as it was fun and she felt beautiful, things were okay.
“I like to dance and I don’t like guys trying to stick their cranks up my ass in the name of ‘getting their groove on’.” He was still running his fingers through her hair and she was starting to like it, until her stomache turned on her.
She jumped up and ran, covering her mouth, “Shit!”. She was throwing up in the alley separating Kelley’s Pub from Clara’s Coffee Casa and it wasn’t pretty. Thank God she didn’t still have that long blonde hair she had been so fond of. Although, Prince Charming here, would have probably held it back for her. His hand was on her shoulder and he was holding her purse.
“Are you okay?”
“Peachy. Can you get me a tissue? I think there’s one in my purse.” He fumbled around for a minute, seemingly uncomfortable with rooting around in her Sak. “Don’t be bashful, it’s probably right by the dildo and KY Jelly.” She laughed in spite of herself.
“Here, smart-ass.” He said, getting the little jab at his embarrassment. “Try this too.” He handed her a little bottle of mouth wash.
“You are a prince among men! I forgot I had that.”
“And this.” He handed her some condoms, she had forgotten those too! “And this, now this is important.” He handed her the diaphram she had never, ever used and carried around as a joke. “Oooh, and here, some tampons for your menstrual enjoyment!”
“You’re a shit.” She started throwing the stuff back at him and they engaged in a sort of ‘safe-sex’ food fight, laughing pathetically. Lovey lost her balance in her one good Prada and fell against him. “Name, please?” She didn’t really care, he was just a pretty boy making her feel young for the moment. He was cute as a god-damned button, truth be known. He had a VERY boyish face, which made her doubt the validity of his I.D., light green eyes, olive skin and blondish brown hair. He wasn’t big, he was medium like she liked. Not muscley, but defined and lean. He was just plain yummy.
“Jesse, et tu?” Oh dear, French. He couldn’t possibly be one of those. As if reading her mind he added “I took French for a semester in college, that’s all I remember.” Whew!
“Lovey, short for Lovelia.” It was so easy to get that southern accent off when you were drunk, it came back like grandma’s recipe for fried chicken.
“Oh, I just LOOOOVE that.” He was trying sarcasm now. How cute. “Hey, I need some coffee and as luck would have it, you puked next to a coffee shop. Join me?” Lovey didn’t answer, just grabbed his hand and started walking. She first fished her other shoe from beneath the bench and sauntered, on a broken heal, into Clara’s.
It was cool inside the shop, a sharp contrast to the muggy August night. A Friday, Lovey’s thirtieth birthday. She developed goose-bumps. Jesse took a break from ordering their lattes to remark on the fact while staring at her chest. She didn’t mind so much, she had a nice set. Thank God her nipples weren’t on her ass.
“Funny boy.” He casually dropped an arm across her shoulders and started rubbing her arm to warm her up. It was a sweet, almost protective gesture. That hadn’t happened in awhile. Most of the guys Lovey and her crew ran into were maulers. There were no nice, normal guys left, they all wanted a piece of whatever action they could get without supplying mutual satisfaction. Being single could suck like that.
Jesse ushered her over to a booth in the back of the joint and excused himself to the bathroom. She did a quick mirror check and discovered she didn’t look half-bad. Besides a bit of mascara trailing down one eye, she was totally passable. She applied some lip-gloss, wiped her eyes and rinsed her mouth with the travel scope Jesse had fished from her purse. No sense offending company with vomitous exhalations. Jesse exited the bathroom and retrieved their coffees from the counter. He plopped down, not opposite her, but next to her in the booth. “Hmmm….cozy.” Lovey commented, under her breath.
He ignored the remark and handed her the latte. He was warming his hands on the type of oversized mug trendy coffee shops are famous for, they must’ve had the air conditioning cranked. “Still cold?”
She turned her breasts toward him, “Gee, I don’t know. You tell me.”
“Funny girl.” Ha! “Here, see if this helps.” He took his hands away from his mug and placed them on either side of her neck, then on her cheeks. “Better?” Okay, without getting completely mushy and reflective here, have you seen Bull Durham? Ya know that scene where Kevin Costner makes that speech about kisses that last a really long time and all that shit and all Susan Sarandon can say is ‘Oh, my…’? Lovey was close to that at this moment, but she wasn’t about to get carried away. Still, something in those green eyes was intoxicating and she was sort of transfixed there for a moment.
There was a bang at the window next to their booth and Lovey jerked her head to find her whole crew of homefries staring at her in clear pissed-offedness. She motioned to the door and they scurried to enter. “Girlfriend, where have you been? The bars have been closed for an hour and we’ve been worried about you!” Karla was screeching drunk again. Let’s hope no-one convinced her she was baby Jesus this time.
“I’ve been here. With Jesse. Girls, meet Jesse, my knight-in-dayglo-orange-t-shirt.” They all said ‘Hi’ simultaneously, all seven of them. “Jesse, this is Milly ‘the bitch’, Sue, Karla ‘with a K’, Annie, Jen, Hope and Glory, my sister.” He flashed them a deadly smile, muttered a quick hello and turned his attention toward the window.
He stood up, leaned over Lovey and knocked on the glass to get the attention of a group of guys standing on the street. They looked confused and a bit perturbed. “Hey!” He motioned toward the girls and then toward the doors. You could tell he was instantly forgiven for his absence, he was supplying chicks.
Four guys entered and the group was starting to look like a small public demonstration. Jesse was probably the cutest of the 5, but they were all little hotties. Of course, her girls were nothing to scoff at, they were all pretty damn cute. Lovey usually snapped up the coolest guy from a group, not because she was the prettiest, but because she was magnetic. She drew people to her with her vivacity. She was engaging, even her cynicism was entertaining. Jesse quickly introduced the groups to one another and the guys started to size up their chances with the girls.
Glory tapped Jesse on the shoulder, “Will you excuse me for a moment? I’d like to have a word with my sister.” She glared at Lovey and Jesse moved to accommodate her. Lovey’s eyes reflexively followed him across the room where he filled his cup with some fresh vanilla hazelnut and gazed in her direction, he gave a wink and smiled. She smiled back. “What is this, ‘Lovey get’s her groove back’? Snap out of it. You know we never leave bars with guys, it’s in the handbook….The Bitches Guide to the Universe, remember?”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t leave with him. I almost threw up on him and look how damn adorable he is. Besides, where were my bitches when I was laying on that bench outside of Kelley’s with my panties on display?”
“Whatever, now we have to deal with this group of jerk-offs and I’m not in the mood. I’m tired and I have to work tomorrow.”
“Okay, first of all, those guys are all cute. Second of all, it would do you some good to get laid. Now, why don’t you go over and make ‘nice, nice’ huh baby girl?” Glory hated when Lovey called her ‘baby girl’. It’s what their mother called her and Lovey did it to be nasty as only sisters can be.
“Okay, tell you what. I’ll just take one of those cowboys home and show him a good time, will that make you happy? Nevermind that he may be some kind of axe murderer, nevermind that his dick may be rotten and fall off inside of me, nevermind that……well, I’m out of bad scenarios. Look, you do what you want to do, I’m pooped and I’m going home.”
“Don’t blame me when you’re forty, alone and childless darlin’.”
“Oh, goodie, you’re using the accent.” It was one of those deadpan statements Glory was famous for. She was the only girl Lovey knew that could convey disgust and admiration in a single sentence or gesture. She grabbed Lovey and kissed her on the mouth. “Just call me tomorrow, I’ll worry.” Lovey was too tired to fret over Glory tonight. She donned her Scarlett O’hara approach to life and decided to worry about that tomorrow.
The rest of the girls were living it up with the guys and Jesse felt safe to make his way back over to the table. He whispered in Lovey’s ear, “Wanna get out of here?” so that he would have to graze her cheek with his. It was warm and soft, she could tell this guy didn’t have a great need to shave. She moved her face so that their lips were touching, cool and smooth and whispered ‘yes’. There was no kiss, just a touch.
“Yo, girls!” Lovey stood up to get their attention. “I’m leaving. Thanks for the party, I’ll call you tomorrow.” They all hugged and gave their happy birthday wishes in order; Karla wished her happiness, as she is the youngest and most naïve of the group. Annie wished her health, as her mother had just died from cancer a month before. Milly wished her money because, she was Milly. Sue wished her good thighs for the rest of her life, she was an aerobics instructor. Hope wished her love and Jen wished that, for her sake, Jesse was well endowed and knew the importance of oral sex. These were her friends and she adored them, she wished them a safe journey home and goodnight.
It appeared several of the girls had exchanged numbers with the guys and they were still talking when she and Jesse left. It was so quiet outside, you could hear the silence. The air was sweet with the fragrance of orange blossoms and the muggy warmth was a welcome change to the chilly coffee shop. “Do you want to ride with me?”
“Well, unless you want me to hotwire a car. I came with glory and she’s probably showered and slippered by now. Where are you parked?”
“Horton Plaza, do you mind walking?” He was standing close to Lovey, their arms were touching and she had an overwhelming urge to get closer to him. She was just brave enough to face him, touching her breasts to his chest, her thighs to his.
“No, I need to walk, the air will do me some good” She slipped her body away from his and they both turned in the proper direction and started off at a nice slow pace. He held her hand, which would have normally agitated her, but she didn’t seem to mind.
“Where’d you get that accent, anyway?” She hesitated. What was it mama had always said, ‘Don’t give yourself away too fast’, ‘A girl should reserve some mystery’?. She shook it off.
“I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Mom moved Glory and I here fifteen years ago, after our parents divorced and we’ve been beach bunnies ever since. I can put the accent on anytime I like, but it usually pops out when I’m imbibing.”
“No, I like it.”
She smiled, “I’m not apologizing for it.”
“Ya know, it’s not erotic like you probably think, just musical to the ear. A change.”
“Darn, and here I thought I was being such a sex-kitten.” She smiled and he halted his steps.
“Stop.” He whispered it, pulled her into the concave entrance of an empty restaurant and held her there. “Let’s not do this. I don’t want to banter about meaningless crap all night, it’s too late.” She moved to protest, but he pressed her up against the brick gently, but firmly. He held her there with the weight of his body. “I’m not going to tell you you’re beautiful, because you’re not. You’re pretty and you know you’re limits, you make up for them here.” He tapped his finger lightly on her forhead. “I’m not going to tell you you’re smart, witty, funny…none of that shit.” He traced lines around her lips with his baby-soft fingers and stared hard into her eyes, almost smiling. ��I’m not going to recite poetry or lovesongs and I’m not going to ask permission to kiss you, because lips like those are just begging to be kissed.”
Lovey traced her hand down his spine softly and found her way under his shirt to his skin, God his skin was almost feverishly hot. Jesse kissed her forehead, then her eyes and languished his lips along her cheekbone until they found her mouth. It was one of those kisses where you don’t care what happens after, it was bone-chilling, even with the heat. She would have sold her mother for a kiss like that, which doesn’t really do it justice. His lips left hers and he continued his repartee, “I’m not going to make pretty speeches because I don’t think you’re the kind of girl who falls for that stuff. I just want to spend time with you, I knew that when I saw you dancing.” Lovey placed her fingers on his mouth.
“Stop” she whispered. “Why don’t you just kiss me, you’re good at that. We can think about the rest later.”
“When?” He stole two short kisses from her lips.
“I don’t know, whenever. You have the key to the city.” Hint, hint.
“I’m gonna call you tomorrow, is that okay?” She was confused, she’d heard that line before. She was offering him the goods, to go HOME. Hello, earth to cowboy. “I’m just going to drop you off at your house, so I know where it is and then I’m going to call you. Are you listed?” Lovey didn’t know whether to feel rebuffed or grateful. She chose the latter as she didn’t know how the wax-job on her upper thighs was holding up.
“Clay. Lovelia Clay.”
“Good.” They walked to the car silently, his hands never and his eyes rarely leaving her. He drove her home. They said and kissed goodnight, softly not wishing to disturb the dampness in the air and the song of the crickets. Lovey Clay was in for trouble and she had no idea.
Lovey, was awakened by the incessant ringing of the telephone. She had forgotten to turn the ringer off when loverboy dropped her off last night….this morning. What time was it? The digital alarm said 9:00 and it was too sunny to mean PM. “Shit” She muttered and only answered the phone to bitch the person out. It was Glory. “Hey, what’s up?” Her head was pounding, of course, and she felt on the verge of nausea again. She had thrown up two more times during the night and silently cursed herself for drinking so much. As usual, she promised herself she would never do that again.
On the other end of the line Glory was going on and on, “How’d you make out with Jesse James?”
“He brought me home.”
“Ah, shit, he’s not still there is he? I’m sorry, I didn’t th…”
“No, little sister. He brought me home, he kissed me and then rode off into the sunrise. About 4am, maybe?”
“What? Did you make him leave or something? You didn’t get out your book of poems did you? That’ll scare ‘em away every time.”
“Cute. No. He’s a, this may be a new word for you, gentleman. Did you write that down? Try to use it in a sentence.”
“Glory thinks the GENTLEMAN is gay. How’s that?” Lovey remembered that kiss.
“No, I don’t think so. As my good friend, Juliet, would say; he kisses by the book. He’s going to ‘call’, ya know.” She didn’t believe he ever would and Glory got the joke.
“Hmmmm….maybe you still had puke breath. Guys tend to not like that. Hell, it’s a guy you met in a bar, nothing ever comes of those things anyway. Are you peeing?” She was. Lovey had taken the cordless into the bathroom with her.
“It’s nine in the morning, what do you expect of me?”
“Do you want to meet for lunch? I’m at the office now, I can meet you at Montana’s around one-ish, I have to give a perm today.”
“People still do that?”
“Do gay people live in San Francisco?”
“Okay, I can meet you. Don’t expect a glamour girl, I feel like poop.”
“Don’t embarrass me, don’t wear the thing. I have friends at Montana’s. Gotta go. Kiss, kiss.” And the line went dead.
The ‘thing’ was a bandana that Lovey wore every Saturday without fail. Her normal saturday uniform was a cute strappy tank top, the orange paisley bandana tied around her head like Mammy in Gone with the Wind and some sort of shorts or skirt and sandals. She loved the bandana and orange was a great color for her. She had started wearing them when she was sixteen because her boyfriend at the time, we’ll call him dick-smack, introduced them to her. She kicked dick-smack to the curb, but kept the bandana. Glory hated the guy and the bandana, but she was a hairdresser and considering covering your quaff a minor felony.
As Lovey showered, she started to recall the events of the night before. Was Jesse really that cute? Did he really kiss that well? Did he really have that cute little muscle in the back of his arm that flexed ever so slightly with the tiniest movements? It didn’t really matter, he would never call. He shouldn’t call, he couldn’t be more than twenty two, he was a man-child. They all were until the age of forty, which had been Lovey’s target age for dating since she was twenty five. Still, she decided to savor the memory as she let the hot water beat against her face, squelching the slight melancholy she felt. Then she remembered she was thirty and started to cry. Sob is actually more like it. Thirty was the dividing line between being a girl and a woman. She wasn’t ready to be a woman, it was too heavy for her. Her mother was a woman, the mini-van divas in her neighborhood escorting their kids to soccer and ballet were women. She didn’t know how to fill that role, to be grown up and carry herself with a quiet dignity. To know the humility of never being asked for your I.D. by pre-pubescent teens at the grocery store when you wanted to buy some hootch. It was a lonely feeling and she couldn’t quite express it, so she just cried.
After the shower of water and tears, she felt better, baptized. Even if her sins would be repeated, they had been forgiven for the moment. She applied minimal makeup, quickly blow-dried her hair and carefully affixed her doo-rag. She had a nice natural look and her eyes, flourescent from crying, combined with her tan to make her look like an exotic little gypsy. If there was one thing Lovey truly liked about her body, it was her eyes. Her mother called her cat-eyes, because of their shape and color. They were so bright and green, you would think they glowed in the dark. She could sharpen them to seduce or soften them to comfort. You can go far if you have good eyes.
She was giving her brows a quick twease when she heard the doorbell. Thinking it was a Jehova’s Witness or salesman, she ignored it. Again, the doorbell rang and she stomped across the room to anser it. She peeked through the keyhole and almost pissed her pants. It was him, alright. He looked ridiculous, cute, but ridiculous. He was wearing a faded blue Primus baseball cap decorated with fishing lures, cut-off jean shorts and a goofy grin. He was holding a fishing pole. What the hell was he doing here at eleven in the morning? She pulled the door until it caught by the sliding chain lock and peered at him through the opening.
“Hey. I was in the neighborhood.” His smile was huge, like a little boy smiles when he’s waiting for a girl to sit in the glue he’s applied to her school chair.
“Going Fishing? Or did I miss Halloween? I couldn’t have been that drunk.” She teased, weirded out at his presence.
“Well, I was going to go hiking…with you, if you want. My uncle has this cabin up on Mount Laguna and my buddies deserted me. Come with?” His smile was infectious, ferocious. He tried to sneak a peek inside the house, “Is there a password or something?”
“Sorry, would you like to come in?” She closed the door to slide the lock off and beckoned him inside. “Do you want some iced tea or anything?”
“No thanks. Nice house, lived here long?”
“About 7 years, I inherited it when my mom re-re-remarried. She’s on her forth husband. The three of us, Mom, Glory and me lived here for about 2 years.” It was a nice house, what you’d call a bungalow on Ocean Beach. OB was less trendy than Pacific Beach, further up the coast and didn’t attract the tourists as much. It was Lovey’s paradise.
“I’m gonna have some coffee, join me?” It was a cloudy day, it might even rain, a nice reprieve from the heat of August. She always had a cup of java on the beach before starting her day. In the winter, the city would dump a huge pile of sand on the beach to level out before the spring. She, Glory and their mother would always take their cappucino or iced lattes to sit on the sand pile and watch the surf (and the surfers).
“I’d love to, need some help?” He moved into the kitchen and stood close to her. Was she blushing?
“Do you know how to work a cap machine?” She was gathering the necessary equipment and grabbed an extra mug from the cupboard. It was a mug Glory had made in tenth grade pottery class. Painted amongst the little violet and blue flowers was the saying ‘It’s not your fault your mother and father are related.’ It was one of Lovey’s favorites and she reserved it for special company.
“No, wanna teach me? I’m a fast learner.” This was the first man she had offered coffee to ( and there were many before him) that actually offered to help. Well, usually the other guys didn’t even wake up to have coffee with her, this was a welcome change.
“Here, pour some milk into this, halfway up.” She handed him the metal pitcher and began measuring espresso grounds into the filter. Lovey had worked part-time at Java Joe’s when she was in highschool and coffee had remained her one vice ever since. Ironically, this intake of caffeine was a ritual for her, a sort of relaxation therapy. “Fill this up with water and put it here.” She motioned to the top of the machine. “Go ahead and place the pitcher under that steamer valve. If you wait until it starts going you’ll be wearing it.” He obeyed her commands, placing the pitcher where she motioned.
She placed the filter under the brew spout and stood behind him. “Now, you hold the handle with your right hand and use your left hand to feel the temperature of the milk.” She wrapped her arms around his trunk and covered his hands with her own…for teaching purposes, of course. The espresso brewed and then the steamer started up. She moved his hands in a circular motion around the spout. “If you move it around like that, the heat gets evenly distributed, once it starts getting warm you move the pitcher down so the spout is just under the surface of the milk. Use quick, short up and down motions, that makes the froth.” Jesse was wearing a tank top and when she spoke, Lovey’s lips brushed ever so slightly against the skin of his arm. He was a bit taller than she remembered, maybe 6’1”? He was tan, but not too much. From this vantage point, she could almost breathe him in. He smelled like little boys do when they come inside after riding their bikes or playing kick-ball. Delicious.
The pitcher became hot quickly and the milk frothed perfectly. She measured some brown sugar into each cup and poured the espresso, then the milk, topping them with a sprinkle of white sugar and cinnamon. They made their way out to the beach.
Passing by the bougainvillea, sipping their coffee they discussed the events of the evening prior. Jesse looked at her, like he knew a little secret. “How do you feel today?”
“Well, okay after my shower. I had a couple of episodes in the middle of the night, but I discovered a secret hang-over formula.”
“Wanna share it?”
“Slim-fast.” He was laughing. “No, really. I used to buy all of those damn shakes because I would get too busy to eat a decent meal and then I hated them. I usually drink one after I’ve been boozing it up and it helps soothe my stomache. All those vital nutrients and stuff.”
“Does it help your head?” He pointed to his noggin’, “I have a splitting headache.”
“No, I have a dull ache myself. Every good San Diego boy knows pot is the only thing that cures a headache. I’m not carrying.” She shrugged.
He patted the pocket of his jeans, “I am. Let’s find a tree.” Now, flowers are great and all, but a man bearing marijuana is better than roses any day of the week. Lovey hadn’t smoked a joint in years. Thankfully, OB was the kind of place you could absolutely do that and blend in with the natives. No worries over that.
They found a cypress tree far up the beach, pretty secluded, and sat on the sand. Jesse leaned his shoulder against Lovey’s and proceeded to re-roll his damaged blunt. He was licking the paper in places and patting it down. He had to stop several times to clear a stray bud from his tongue, spitting it softly out. Good God, his lips were so supple and well shaped, like Paul Newman’s. Seriously. Lovey had to fight the urge to kiss him several times, she didn’t have the courage liquor supplied. He lit the joint and they smoked and sipped coffe and talked. Just small talk, things shouldn’t get too heavy when smoking pot. The wind was soft and warm. They just sat leaning against the tree and each other, watching the surf under the gray sky.
A gentle spattering of rain interrupted their reverie and Lovey remembered Glory. “Shit, what time is it?”
“Quarter to one, why?” Glory would be livid, she hated being stood up. Lovey brushed the sand from her shorts and started walking hurriedly up the beach.
“Are you hungry?” She asked squinting into the emerging sun.
“Yeah, I could definitely eat.” He matched her pace up the beach and they jumped into her Honda Civic. It would take atleast twenty minutes to make their way from OB to Hillcrest, so Lovey gunned it.
Montana’s was a great place, Lovey’s and Glory’s favorite restaurant in San Diego. It was at the end of the strip in Hillcrest, the ‘gay’ area of San Diego. Unlike northern California, southern Californians corralled their homosexual populace into one little trendy part of town with the best coffee shops and hair salons. Glory was seated outside when Jesse and Lovey hurried up the sidewalk to meet her, only five minutes late. Amazing.
“You two look absolutely charming.” She glared at Lovey before turning her attention to Jesse, “Jesse wasn’t it?” She extended her hand and cocked her head in a questioning manner.
“Cooper. Jesse Cooper” Up to that point, Lovey had no idea what his last name was. That was Glory, down to the lick-lock.
“What’ll you have to drink?”
“A beer is fine, nothing fancy.” He smiled apologetically. “Sorry, she’s late…my fault.”
“Labatts, okay?” Glory never acknowledged apologies and she never gave them.
“My favorite.” Glory motioned for the bartender, Gabe, and ordered Jesse’s beer. She motioned to the waitress and asked that another place be set at the table.
“Well, dear sister,” Lovey started, “You look stunning today.” She kissed her on the cheek.
“Wish I could repay the compliment, your nose needs powdering. Excuse us, Jesse. We girls always go to the bathroom in pairs, right sis?” Lovey winked at Jesse and followed her sister into the restroom.
“What’s boy wonder doing here?” She turned her sister around to face the mirror and stood behind her retying her bandana.
“I don’t know girl, he wanted to take me hiking.”
“Hiking? Wow. Where?”
“Mt. Laguna. Did you see that hat?” She was giggling hysterically. Lovey didn’t giggle, unless…
“Are you high?” Glory sniffed at her sisters face.
“Shhhh, a little teensy bit. He brought me pot.”
“No shit? That’s alright.” That was a high compliment from Glory. “How old is he, anyway? Is he employed?” Glory was truly becoming their mother incarnate.
“He’s 25, believe it or not and a cameraman for channel 4 news.”
“Well, atleast I don’t have to worry about a statutory charge against you. I ordered you the salad with the strawberries and pine nuts and a mint julep. Hurry up and go pee, I gotta go too.” It was a one seater.
They joined Jesse back at the table. He was relaxed, sucking contentedly on his beer and chatting up the bartender. Gabe was an old friend from highschool. He discovered, after he began dating Glory, that he was gay. He stood her up for the prom to explore a rendezvous with a halfback on the football team. He and Glory had remained good friends in spite of that little occurrence and Lovey had grown close to him over the years as well. He was a damn good looking guy, weren’t they all? Half Mexican and half French, he could model for GQ. He grabbed Lovey by the waist and kissed her full on the mouth, it was a tradition.
“How’s my girl, today? Happy birthday, old lady!” Gabe was surely the only one who was going to get away with that remark.
“Hey, bartender…less smoochin, more mixin. Where’s our mint juleps?” Glory liked to yelp orders.+
“Hey Glo-worm, why can’t you be as sweet as your big sister, here? Did she suck all the nice genes out of Loretta before you were conceived?” Glory snapped her fingers and motioned toward the bar.
“Jesse, this is the only place outside Louisville, Kentucky where you can get a decent mint julep.” Glory informed him, “But, only because we taught this swindler how to mix them.” Gabe kissed Lovey again and scurried off to mix their drinks.
“What’s in a mint julep, anyway?” He seemed genuinely interested, not trying to charm or make conversation. As Glory explained the fragile balance of ingredients in their beloved regional drink, she and Lovey both noticed something. Jesse was actually listening. He went on to ask her opinion about hair care products and certain types of haircuts. They began rating the styles of passerby on the street. Glory was actually laughing at his commentary, they were commiserating. Was this for real? Because Lovey was still a bit under the influence of mary jane, she sat in a cloaked kind of quiet and observed Jesse. He couldn’t possibly care about all of that crap Glory was spouting, but he was making her feel special, included. He even asked Glory to do his hair! By the end of lunch, he had completely won her over and she made him an appointment for a cut following week. Now, this may not seem very special to the common outsider, but it was a standing rule for Glory to hate any man Lovey was interested in, period.
Jesse drove the car back to OB after they had walked Glory back to the salon. The windows were rolled down and the radio was blaring a Nirvana song. Jesse held Lovey’s hand, using it to shift gears when the need arose. She let him. It was nice to not have to talk, just to be with someone and enjoy their company. It was nice to see OB from the passenger seat and really pay attention to the sights and sounds along the way.
Jesse parallel parked the car in the street in front of Lovey’s house. “Gonna pack a bag?” He inquired.
“We’re going hiking, aren’t we?” He looked expectant, she couldn’t quite refuse him. Lovey was a damn good judge of character and he didn’t seem like a uni-bomber or anything. Why the hell not?
“Are we spending the night?” She wasn’t scared, just wanted to know if she should shave her legs or not.
“Yes, I have a tent. We could hike, tell ghost stories, roast marshmallows…all that cool shit. My uncle’s cabin is a couple miles down the road, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind company, if your not the out-doorsy type.”
Nope, she could not refuse that smile. She consented and told him to pick her up in an hour. She called Glory at the shop to let her know she would be out of town until Sunday night. As much as Glory seemed to like Jesse, she begged her to get his ID and his license plate number. Lovey had to promise to leave the information by the phone, just in case. She packed a small bag with travel toiletries, a couple pairs of fresh undies and toilet paper. Also, a must for camping, if there won’t be a shower near by…baby wipes. Just a tip, ladies.
She was ready and he was back in forty five minutes. He drove an old Bronco in excellent condition. He had renovated it himself, one of his hobbies. She forgot to leave a note for Glory with the essential emergency information. She felt no need, she would be back before Glory could miss her.
The drive up Mount Laguna was beautiful, of course and they reached the camp-site shortly before 5 in the afternoon. Plenty of daylight left to pitch the tent and grab a piece of pie in town. The town of Julian was famous for it’s apple pie, there were orchards all over the mountain.
The tent was a bit of a bear to get up. It was big enough to sleep four, which sort of disappointed Lovey. She was hoping for closer quarters. Apparently, Jesse was taking his time with things, he hadn’t tried to kiss her all day. It was sort of nice and just a tiny bit frustrating.
They walked around the city of Julian until dusk and stopped at a little shop to have pie and coffee. They both liked it prepared with cheddar cheese melted on top, a delicacy indigenous to the region. They lit a small, but roaring fire back at the tent and settled in for the night. Lovey had packed her special light-weight sweats for pajamas and donned them when the sun went down.
They sat back to back near the fire, roasting marshmallows and talking. Jesse told her about this tradition he had with his mother that was started at a camp-fire very nearly like this one. They would sit back to back and ask each other questions, personal or frivolous and they had to answer them. They carried the tradition over at home, using the hearth in winter or lighting a candle in the summer. Lovey thought that was wonderful, as her family’s only ritual was dysfunction.
Jesse started “Who’s your favorite poet?”
“Well for one, he was hot and a total lover. Passionate, but a player. He was just interesting.” She thought this would feel odd, but it didn’t. It felt right, cozy and familiar.
“Is that your favorite poem….She walks in beauty, like the night…?”
“Yes. My turn. What’s your favorite color?”
“Green, the color of life and money.”
“Fair enough. Your turn.”
“Kraft Macaroni and Cheese…has to be out of the box and with the powdered cheese.”
“Really? Mac and Cheese? Your turn.”
“Your favorite food, that’s an important question.”
“I’d have to say Oreos and milk. You just can’t beat that with a stick.”
“That’s a good one! Can I change mine?”
“No. Most embarrassing moment?”
“God, I have so many. I guess getting caught giving a blow job by my uncle, the cop.”
“Oh, shit! That beats me any day of the week. How old were you?”
“Sixteen. My first real boyfriend, we refer to him as dick-smack now, but his name was Riley Sumner. My turn. Your first love?”
“You.” Lovey, hit him in the shoulder.
“Don’t be cute, I’ll tell your mama that you lied.” He laughed and bent his head back so that their faces were touching.
“Sarah Gardner. Second grade, she let me touch her….there. Yours?”
“Okay, since you’re trying to be cute. I think his name was Jeff? First grade. He ate glue and I thought it was sexy.”
This went on forever, with intermittent pee breaks in the woods. Eventually, they laid on the ground, their heads next to eachother and bodies outstretched in opposite directions just looking at the sky and talking. They shared little stories about their childhood. Silly things like the time Lovey brought home five kittens she found in a garbage can when she was six. The time Jesse brought his mom roses he had picked from the neighbors prize bushes. It appeared they both had been arrested for petty theft as teens; stealing cds from Target. Lovey got community service, Jesse got a record. They were both banned from Target for life, although admitted sneaking into a store once in awhile for cheap thrills. They grew up on the same music, what they’re parents had listened to; Stevie Wonder, Stealy Dan, The Beatles. They shared a common love of rap, Madonna, Prince, U2 and newer groups like Nirvana, Hole and Pearl Jam.
While they talked and laughed before the fire, Jesse played with her hair, her hands, stroked her arms…he was tactile. The embers were still bright, but rocks had been placed around the perimeter to hold the flames at bay and protect them. They fell asleep like that, full of marshmallows and MGD, holding hands outstretched beside the tent. Jesse fell first and his soft snoring invited Lovey to join him. She didn’t even mind the leaves crushed under her head or the possibility of little bugs crawling into her hair, she was just tired and full.
Lovey woke first to the rising sun and the cry of birds circling overhead. She was so tired, they must’ve been up talking until 2am. She looked at Jesse’s watch and then at him with a scrutinizing eye. He slept like a little boy, his face was imprinted with sleeve marks from the arm he had used as a pillow. He wasn’t beautiful really, he had a bit of a ruggedness about his jaw that saved him from being too pretty. His skin was soft and clear, a bit darker than Lovey’s, even with her tan. His mouth was slightly open and Lovey couldn’t resist the urge to softly kiss his lips, his cheeks and eyes. When he exhaled, she inhaled his breath surprised at the sweetness in spite of the beer and sleep. He jolted awake, seeming a bit disconcerted with his surroundings and then softened.
“Hi.” He propped up on one elbow. He kissed her softly, slowly and for a long time, “Good morning.” He raised his wrist to check the time and Lovey caught it in mid-air.
“It’s eight o’clock. Ready to hike?” He groaned in this beautiful way and stretched his torso, yawning.
They ate granola bars and oranges for breakfast, digging milk out of the cooler Jesse had packed. Lovey always had nightmares about guys seeing her in the mornings without her makeup on or her teeth brushed, but this was so different. She felt , or maybe Jesse made her feel, that he admired her no matter how she looked. It was something in his eyes and actions, his constant touch.
They set off for a long day. They scheduled three hikes, two shorties and one long one before lunch. They didn’t chat much along the way, just pointed out sites to eachother commenting on the vegetation and weather. The mosquitos were fierce and they had both applied Skin So Soft to ward them off. It was a great day, bright and dry, even if it was quite hot. Everybody always bitches about ‘dry heat’ rolling their eyes as if it isn’t true, but it is. Humidity would have killed them after the first hike. They stopped at some high rocky point to eat lunch and take in the view of the valley and Lake Laguna which was about two feet deep all around. Still, it was lovely. The hiking boots Lovey had borrowed from Milly two years ago (who wouldn’t hike if her life depended on it) were holding up nicely. How nice to have friends that share your shoe-size….not a pre-requisite for lasting relationships, but a pithy bonus.
The breeze was soft, providing some needed air conditioning in the glare of the sun. Jesse sat behind Lovey, feeding her grapes and talking about trips to the cabin with his uncle. They had come here a lot and Jesse knew the area like the back of his hand. Lovey was starting to feel like the terrain, starting to feel known and, surprisingly, wasn’t scared.
After completing the last hike, Lovey thought she was going to die of exhaustion. Jesse still possessed the energy of a child and packed up their belongings after taking down the tent. They’re faces were a bit burnt from the beating sun, as they had forgotten to pack any SPF and they were both craving a nice hot shower. The drive home was quiet and Jesse slipped one of his home-made tapes into the stereo. It was a nice concoction of rap and rock with a few soft ballads intermixed. Lovey slept the entire ninety minute drive home that felt like only five when Jesse woke her up.
“Hey, sleepy head, we’re here.” She dragged herself out of the Bronco and into the house, Jesse carried her bag for her and unlocked her door. He dropped her bag on the couch and enfolded her in his arms. “Tired?”
“To my bones.” He kissed her then, deep and soft.
“Do you want me to stay?” He whispered it into her hair, still held by her precious bandana.
“Yes, but you’d better go. I stink, I’m tired and I want you way to much.” She couldn’t meet his stare and was fiddling with the strings on the hood of his sweatshirt. Thirty six hours ago she would have rode him ‘til snot came out of his nose, but things were different now. She liked him and didn’t want their first sexual encounter to be sullied by sweat and fatigue.
“Me too, me too and really, me too.” He let go of her, sat her on the sofa. “How ‘bout this? You take a quick shower, I’ll entertain myself out here. Then I’ll drive you back to my house, which is about two miles away and cook you dinner.” God, he was irrepressible and irresistable.
“I have to work tomorrow.” She said lamely.
“Me too, you’ll be in bed by ten, scouts honor.” She looked at the clock on the mantel. It was six already and she had so much to do. She had bought petunias to plant Friday morning and if she didn’t get the garden weeded there would be no basil left.
“Okay. Make yourself at home, there’s beer in the fridge and some cheese and crackers if you’re hungry.” She kissed him swiftly, not wanting to risk arousal, and made her way to the bathroom. It was odd, in a way, having him here while she showered. What was she doing? He was a stranger by any sane person’s standards. She laughed at how she had misjudged his age and his intentions the other night. He was so complicated and present to her now that she couldn’t begin to wrap her mind around him.
The water was hot and it scalded the red places created by lack of sun-screen. She didn’t care, it felt good. She had a mass of butterflies in her stomache and gave into the anticipation of the coming evening. Her pinky started to twitch involuntarily, which it did when she was nervous. She grabbed it, “Stop it.” She said, “just stop it.” She tried to think about other things, her garden, Glory, her mother (if anything could kill desire, it was that!), but she just couldn’t get Jesse out of her mind. She felt like screaming or singing, but she didn’t have a voice. There was a quiet caught in her throat that constricted her, keeping her silent and taut.
She heard music coming from the living room, Jesse must’ve found her cd collection. She remembered that she didn't have a clean towel and darted from the shower to the pantry to retrieve one. She left the shower running so she could warm up a bit more before drying off. She opened the door of bathroom to take a peek at Jesse and tell him she would only be a few more minutes. He was dancing around, beat-boxing and spinning pretend records to the tune of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘I like big butts’ and a laugh escaped her throat, loosening the tightness. He smiled over at her, still carrying on his little performance, without a trace of embarrassment or awkwardness. She turned, patted her towel covered rear and jumped back into the shower for another rinse.
She emerged from the bathroom, wearing her favorite strappy pink sundress, to find Jesse relaxed on the couch with a Corona and a lime, listening to an old Sade cd. He got up and retrieved another Corona from the fridge, cut a slice of lime with his pocket-knife and handed it to her. “Thanks.” He nodded. She had left her hair wet, adding a little gel to set it. It was naturally wavy and would dry in a sort of old Hollywood doo, which flattered her oval face. She had lightly applied some powder and mascara since her skin had that sun-kissed glow and Jesse told her she looked great.
“You ready?” They climbed into the Bronco, beers in their laps (cops in OB were never bothersome about that sort of thing). Lovey, having noticed the constant flicker of the answering machine light, decided to ignore it but silently hoped Glory wasn’t too damn mad at her.
Jesse’s house was less than two miles away, It was just up the hill situated on a cliff above the water and it was immense. Immense and beautiful, damn near a mansion. Needless to say, Lovey was shocked a bit and overcome with curiosity as they pulled into the circular drive. “Some pad.” Was all she could seem to mutter.
“Thanks, it’s inherited.” Underplaying the house, embarrassed by it’s vulgar beauty.
“Grandparents?” She inquired, thinking it was left to his mother and father.
“Parents.” He said weakly, opening the door for her. Shit, what do you say to that, how do you overcome that awkward silence?
“I’m sorry.” And she was, so deeply that it showed in her furrowed brow and the tiny lines around her eyes.
“Hungry?” He smiled. He didn’t want to go into that. Not now, not ever. Lovey shook her head in affirmation, sensing his need to avoid the subject of his parent’s demise.
“Starving. You gave me quite a work-out today, I could eat you!” She was trying cheerfulness to fill the gap of silence between them and Jesse let it work.
“Good. You can sit in the game room and wait for me, there’s plenty to do.” Lovey stared at him, wide eyed in expectation. The GAME room? Is he kidding?
“Directions? Or are the halls color coded, like in a hospital? You know, follow the red line to the living room, the green line to the bathro…”
“Shaddup.” He covered her mouth with his hand and turned her around. Third hall on the left, first door on the right.” He slapped her on the ass and gently pushed her forward, “Giddyap.”
“I’ll be lonely. Do you think one of the butlers could keep me company?” She walked away, leaving Jesse to shake his head. Someone actually saw this grandiose casa in the same light he did.
Jesse rarely brought girls home with him and never told any of them the truth. He told them he had bought the house with some well invested allowance money….some believed him. He pretty much figured Lovey would be different. She was smart, probably the smartest girl he’d ever met and with wicked sense of humor. He didn’t lie when he said she wasn’t beautiful. Her face was more carnal than pretty, but innocent and sophisticated at the same time. It was the eyes that held her together, kept her from blending into a crowd, they were expressive and could stop a man dead in his tracks. Her body was small and compact with a softness around the curves. She couldn’t be more than five feet four inches, but she carried herself taller. She was comfortable in her own skin and possessed what Jesse could only describe as a casual grace and ease.
He had seen her at Kelley’s Pub several times before their first encounter and she had appealed to him. She was unaware of his eyes on her, of all the eyes on her, entranced in her friends and the rhythm of the music. She possessed a nonchalant indifference to the crowd and did what she pleased and what felt good. He had seen grown men afraid to approach her, knowing she would shoot them down with a glance. Several times some guy, usually a new-comer, would try to horn in on her little tribe of women and a hip-check or hard elbow would send him reeling. If she wanted to dance with a guy, she approached him, inviting him with her eyes and a smirk. She was never refused and when she was done with them, she just walked away….no conversation, no explanations. She never left with them, ever. None of those gorgeous girls did, they were there for themselves and each other, nobody else. He took the rare opportunity, the bench scene, and lucked out with her. Pure happenstance that he thanked a God-he-didn’t-believe-in for.
Lovey was really impressed with the ‘game’ room and was relieved there weren’t dead animal heads hanging on the walls as she expected. It was truly filled with games. There were three pinball machines, pac-man, centipede and space invaders arcade games, a pool table, electronic dart boards, a huge-screen t.v. with dolby surround sound and a kick ass stereo. There were tape and cd collections adorning two of the walls from floor to ceiling and a whole closet filled with videos, Hollywood produced and home-made. It was awesome. There was also a space of hardwood floor set aside for live musicians and dancing….truly smashing.
Lovey had scored only 10,000 points playing pac-man by the time Jesse joined her. He took a little extra time to observe her before interrupting her fun. She was enigmatic and ruthless in her pursuit of those little dots and floating fruit, a true player. He placed his hand on the small of her back, she jumped and smiled broadly, like a kid. “Dinner ready?”
“This way, madam.” He led her from behind, his hand still on her back, a warm guide. They ate out on what Lovey could only describe as a ‘veranda’. It was actually a covered stone patio built around a huge old Cypress tree, it was daunting in it’s rustic beauty. It reminded her of the italian villa scenes foreign movies she watched late at night. Jesse had lit some nice citronella candles against the setting sun and Frank Sinatra was cooing softly in the background…a true renaissance man, this Jesse.
“For starters, a lovely caeser salad.” It was lovely and the dressing was ‘made from scratch’ as Jesse bragged and was delicious. When he served the main course, Lovey just about fell out of her seat laughing.
“Macaroni and cheese, for the lady, complimented by a nice white zin.” He loved her laughter, it was rich and pure, no holding back.
“Yes, the sweetness in the zinfandel will bring out the subtle phosphate in the cheddar.” She retorted, she was literally beside herself with delight. Once her laughter had subsided and she regained her composure, she layed her hand on his. “Thank you, really. This is one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.” And she was telling the truth.
They talked about little nothings, her job as a paralegal at one of the leading law firms in the city, why she never attended even one college class, and her life in Louisville when her family was intact. Jesse spoke more of his uncle, some of his schooling (which was extensive) and his love of photography and movie-making. He promised to show her his work someday, maybe this day. It grew dark and Jesse gave her a challenging stare, “Back to back?” Inviting her into the tradition he had shared with his departed mother. For some reason, Lovey didn’t find this odd or sick, she felt special and part of a secret world she was growing to adore.
“I’d like that.” She moved to clear the dishes from the table and he stopped her with a touch to her arm.
“Nah, I’ll get that tomorrow. Come on.” He led her upstairs to his bedroom where he lit 4 candles and placed them on the floor around a small, very old, persian rug. They sat down, back to back and began.
“What’s your mother like” Damn, he was starting with a toughie. How to describe that person she did not herself understand. She would wing it.
“Hmmmm….Loretta. We call her Loretta, Lo for short. We aren’t allowed to call her mother, ever. She had me when she was seventeen, Glory came at twenty and my father left at twenty two for her ex-best friend, Sally. Loretta is pretty, fashionable and has more shoes than Imelda Marcos. She’s in the process of divorcing her forth husband to marry her fifth….she’s an optimist. She’s a good person, but wounded, she’s never gotten over my father leaving. Is that good enough?”
“Is that all you want to say?”
“For now. My turn. Tell me something no one else knows about you” Jesse thought for a few minutes, weighing information.
“Well, besides my old pediatrician, no one knows I got crabs from some chick my junior year.”
“Get out of town! Really?”
“Yeah, that’s when I discovered the unfortunate need for condoms. My turn and I’ll ask the same question.”
“Well, that’s harder for me, my girls know nearly everything about me. Okay, when I was eight, I let Greg Green finger me on the playground.” Jesse was cracking up. “I did. He let all his friends smell his finger and I gave him a black eye.”
“Okay, okay….calm down. It’s your turn.”
“Ummmmm…what did you want to be when you were little?”
“I went through the fireman thing for a couple of years and then it was a photographer or a film-maker. I was in love with photography, though, from the time I was ten years old.”
“And you are a photographer, right?”
“Yeah, I mean, I’m no Ansel Adams, but I’m getting better.”
“What do you photograph?”
“Anything that appeals to me. You. I would love to photograph you. My mom. I used to take tons of pictures of her and she hated it. She would put on these ridiculous faces or dress up in my dad’s clothes…she was a good sport. She built a dark-room for me down the hall and used to help me develop everything.” There was a long silence.
“It was. She was. My turn. What did you want to be?”
“A proctologist.” She grinned as she said it.
“Cute. Answer the question.”
“It’s embarrassing.” She squirmed against his back. “An actress. I really wanted to be an actress. I used to break into my mom’s makeup supply and paint myself up like Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and act out different scenes from the movie. Then there was the Gone With The Wind era of my life that shouldn’t even be discussed!”
“Have you ever tried it out? Acting?”
“I was in some school plays, stuff like that. I’m past the point now, too old. My turn?”
“No. You should pursue it, really. You have an interesting look and you’re very expressive. I think you could do something with that.”
“Thanks.” She brushed it off, “My turn?”
“I think we’re done. Besides, I wanna show you something. But, you have to promise to have an open mind.” He looked a bit worried. “Promise?” She nodded apprehensively.
“Okay. Come here.” He led her over to the bed. It was one of those huge california king deals in the southwestern style…unfinished tree trunks put together like lincoln logs. It was nice, though. He propped pillows up behind her head and took her shoes off for her.
“Uh, oh. Is this going to hurt?” She asked, feigning fear. Jesse thought for a moment.
“Just me, if you don’t like it.” He knew she would though.
Jesse opened a huge armoir to reveal a thirty six inch t.v. with a vcr and stereo. Down below, in the cabinets of the unit, were various home-made vidoe tapes with labels. Jesse took out a particular tape and placed it in the vcr, waiting until the rewind completed before hopping onto the bed next to Lovey. The candles were still burning and the moon was high. Jesse turned the t.v. on and hit play on the vcr remote.
It was obviously shot at Kelley’s Pub, as Lovey recognized the bartender and the surroundings. Jesse was walking her through it, “That guy there, the blonde is my friend Derrick. This was his bachelor party.” The camera switches from the group of guys to her and the other girls filing into the bar. You can hear some hooting and hollering from the guys, but the girls didn’t notice.
“God, that was Jen’s birthday. That was like, seven months ago.” She was confused.
“Yeah, this was the first time I saw you. As you’ll notice, the guys don’t make much of a re-appearance.” It was true, the camera was trained on Lovey and some of the girls for long periods of time.
“Okay, what? Have you been stalking me?” She was teasing, really. She could tell he had edited the film, cut in some black and white images and juiced up the speed at different areas. It was well shot, for the subject matter. There were multitudes of bodies writhing on the dance floor and he managed to capture just their little group the whole time. At one point, he had slowed Lovey down and layed a back-track of classical music…something by Brahms. It was beautiful, sensual.
“Shhh, this is my favorite part.” The girls were dancing to ‘Cool Like Dat’ by Digable Planets, just breaking it down. Lovey snatched Karla’s cigarette out of her mouth, kissed her full on the lips, and let it dangle casually from her her own. She danced with that cigarette the whole song, mouthing all of the words. The girls and half the pub were watching her. It was choice. Lovey was mortified.
“Jesus, if I’d have known I looked like that…..I’m going to kill those girls.”
“What are you talking about? That was the night my friends dubbed you ‘The Queen’, called you the freshest girl they���d ever seen. Look at you, really look. Look at the line of your body, the sway of your hips, that expression on your face…”
She saw what he was talking about, what he saw in her that she didn’t. When she took herself out of it, looked upon that sinuous girl as a stranger, she saw the draw and she lost her sense of shame.
“Okay, this is my other favorite part.” Some guy, (large build, steroid junky) horned in on their group and tried to dance with Jen. All at once the girls stopped moving and, staring at him with blank expressions, disbanded to the bar leaving him to dance by himself. “There were two hours of footage on you and thirty minutes on the guys. Derrick never let me live that down until they watched it.”
“You showed them this?” She hit him with a pillow.
“Yes and they loved it.” She smiled at him then, huge and inviting. A more common girl might have been offended, might have been too embarrassed to see his true intentions.
“So, is this when you decided to approach me?”
“No, I didn’t even think I would see you again. I asked the bartender about you..”
“Yeah, and he told me your name, that you came in a lot with those girls, how you guys were so tight and all. After that, if I happened by Kelley’s I’d look for you. I’ve only seen you about three times since then before Friday.”
“So, why’d you wait so long to talk to me?” Her voice was soft, she wasn’t challenging, just interested.
“Well, have you seen the way you shoot guys down without a second thought? I do have some pride.”
“So you took advantage of my inebriation? Just waited until I was blitzed enough to be willing?”
“Yes. Honestly, yes. I also thought it wasn’t too safe for you to be lying on that bench at one a.m. with your legs spread.”
“Didja take a peek?”
“A gentleman never tells.”
“That’s why I’m asking you.” She shifted her body to face him on the bed, played with some fringes on the quilt. She looked at him frankly, questioningly. In the candlelight, Jesse’s eyes were so light, she could barely make them out. He placed his hand on her hip, trailed down to her thigh and slipped it under her dress. She felt the heat of it, slide up her hip and settle into the valley of her waste.
“I love this curve you have, this softness and smallness.” Feeling along the flatness of her belly, coming to rest in the cavern between her breasts, he could feel the quick beat of her heart keeping pace with his own. He pulled her onto her knees, facing her and slipped the dress over her head. She carefully did the same with his t-shirt, feeling the muscles banking either side of his rib-cage and the bones beneath. He kissed her mouth like he owned it, stealing her breath and making it his. Their hands performed a dance of discovery, not able to feel enough of the other, craving absolute insight. Light breezes blew across them, evaporating the beads of sweat and tears that flowed during the night. They gave to and took from one another what is best and brightest about all of us, as human souls and then they slept.