I had gone in with a complaint feminine in nature: stomach troubles. With health insurance for the first time in my life, I found myself in and out of the doctor's office on whims, because I could, and because it seemed that I had been ignoring things in myself(more) for so long that I couldn't tell what was benign or serious.
On that day a trainee was on duty. A resident. He was nervous as he palpated my abdomen, and feeling nothing bulging, he deferred to his superior, who suggested that it might be worth talking to a counselor. I had never tried therapy, but since I was there, and the insurance covered it, I followed the resident into a closet-sized room off the hallway. Inside a woman with dark curly hair invited me to sit on a chair with scratchy upholstery and dirty oak arms. After twenty minutes of conversation, she volunteered:
"It sounds like you lead men on."
A few minutes later I was standing, dizzy, my stomach no longer a problem. I had tried for a moment to clarify but realized quickly that she was not my audience.
John and I had a habit at that point of meeting at the bar and seeing what happened. If he met a girl, he'd pack me off in a cab, and if not I'd walk home with him and we would keep company in sorrow.
That night I stood there, watching women who knew how to flirt, who were shouting Woo Hoo and who were leaning in close. I hadn't really noticed them before, and I wasn't sure if we were all the same creatures. I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing. John found a girl and tried to get me a cab. I walked.(less)
My father drank but he wouldn't have been described as a drinker. Back when he was my age and before he got sick he went to bars only occasionally, usually with other men from the logging company. Someone told me about the time he took his Berkeley friend to a(more) Klamath Falls bar filled with loggers and introduced him as Jim from California who works for the Sierra Club.
I've been watching him now for an hour and a half. I'm drinking whiskey and hoping to impress him. He's standing next to an overweight man with a thick black beard and a camouflage hunting jacket. My father does most of the listening but every once in a while he quietly deadpans jokes that I keep missing, and his friend erupts into laughter.
He's still nursing his first Budweiser out of a thin beer glass that looks too dainty for this place. He is my height, about 30 like me (with two kids already but he hasn't fathered me yet), and he's wearing jeans frayed around his boots and a white and blue Pendleton that I wish I could end up inheriting.
When I walk up to him he meets my eyes, smiles easily, and I sense a shared confusion, as if for just an instant we can't tell ourselves apart.
But then I'm drunk and speechless, my heart pounding like I'm trying to ask a pretty girl to dance. I just stand there breathing, trying not to cry, and his smile drops slightly. His friend barks something about "this fagot" and laughs. My father's eyes apologize. His mouth squirms in embarrassment.
His lips part to speak, but the emerging noise is static, quickly becoming the violent rush of branches, then the gunshot sound of wood breaking before the tree falls.(less)
A matter of outstanding debt. Eighty dollars owed a bar, so I walk frosted streets as winter freezes into temporal context. In empty lots, a world of crystal chandeliers in the beam of my flashlight - scotch broom wearing ice. The crown of a honey locust engulfs a street(more) light, and a thin, yellow shaft illuminates a gray tree frog impaled on a thorn. A shrike sizes me up defiantly as I lean in for a close look. Rising through bands of fog, the straw-colored first quarter moon carries both an ochre corona and a ghostly blue halo. Lake Union holds a painting of the night.
I'm paid up. Moods blur to drinks. Watching the Kingdome collapse on television, I am surprised to find myself cheering along with the crowded bar. We celebrate our aloneness together. Spring is a well whiskey.
Autumn comes flooding like cream ale over Thanksgiving weekend. We regulars are lost in laughter. It never rains in November! Somebody thought it a sound idea to allow the pontoons of the I-90 floating bridge to fill with water. Environmentalists, they are! I watch as sections of concrete peel and sink through the television. I am saturated. A new bridge on the surface and the subaqueous bridge below.
The bar is a trampoline where time bounces.
It is 2011. A matter of outstanding debt. Eighty million dollars owed on a was stadium. Indebtedness is a good state for a walk outside lest the watch monger start filling pontoons.
Things get sticky. Feeling around the room with my eyes, avoiding the puddled humanity which has let itself go, wondering where all the fireflies have gone.
I put my hand in some beer and search around for a bar napkin, always out of reach. How am I supposed to write m(more)y number down? Tearing a page from my book, wish I hadn't done that, its going to bug me now, I scrawl ten numbers down and slide it to you.
False pretensions. I wish I could have found a bar napkin.
Nothing to find here but human misery covered in alcohol. Leaving I light my last cigarette, start walking, then hand it to the bum who asks for a smoke. I hope I have more at home.
Everything is sticky here. I wish I would have found that napkin.(less)
He was a man--I was used to liking boys. Big and strong wasn't usually the type that I went for--I preferred the skinny ones with glasses and delicate wrists and beat-up sneakers. Not men, with real beards and not just cultivated stubble. With boots and plaid flannel shirts somehow(more) neither ironic nor sincere. He sat beside me and asked if I was going dancing with the rest. When I hesitantly said I thought so, he smiled--at me, not at the floor or off into the distance--and said he was going too. (less)
A strong arm curled around my waist from behind and yanked me through the doorway of the dressing room before I could blink.
The slam of the door was covered by the thunder of drums as the first band of the night began their set on the other sid(more)e of it. My nostrils flared at that spicy-sweet scent tickling my nose. The smell of James is very intoxicating and I know it like I know my own.
Honestly this whole vampire smell thing was still freaking me out but I digress, point is, I knew it was James immediately.
He had me pinned against the wall.
It felt awesome.
Things had been uncomfortably weird between us recently for no discernible reason. It really sucked.
His hands sank into my hair as he molded his body to mine. Every single coherent thought in my head disappeared along with all the reasons I was annoyed with him the moment I felt his mouth take mine.
"Take" is much too calm a word to describe what James' mouth did when it met mine.
Each drop of blood in my body began to heat up at his touch.
Don't believe those stories about vampire's bodies being cold to the touch, we're no different than humans. The first few times I fed, my flesh felt the same way it did after a bad sunburn as my body got used to an influx of new blood.
Now, as James claimed my mouth as his own in a roomful of band equipment, my skin was sizzling and I mentally thanked the band onstage for turning up their amps loud enough to cover any wayward sounds that might give us away.
We still had alot to talk about but for now our bodies had some catching-up to do.(less)