by R. E. Bearlee
Of course I went to the bathroom. Galba’s face at first was sort of shocking. I had to get a good look at myself in some real light. I dashed in the men’s room, closing the thumping music behind me with the door. I stared hard into the cracked mirror. The splotches were pretty big and noticeable on my white collared shirt. The buttons were lopsided. There were little trails of red going down the right side of my neck. That same side was stained and soggy, making it droop compared to the other side. I pulled in close to the mirror under the indifferent bright bathroom light. There were two tiny little holes about a half inch apart on my neck but they weren’t bleeding at the time. I gasped as I heard the door open and a club goer walk in. I quickly splashed water on my face. I rubbed some blood off my neck and washed my hands. Then I stared at myself in the mirror. My skin was paler than usual. I looked tired because I was tired.
We left the club soon after. I told Galba I’d be fine walking home alone but he insisted. As we walked the streets were deserted and cold. Silence and the occasional whoosh of a car, blare of a speeding siren or dog barking in some lonely fenced in backyard.
“So you’re telling me this girl you danced with at Disco 9000 took you in some back closet and fucked you? And along the way you got bit by a rat or something.” Galba laughed as he said it. We were deep in a neighborhood that didn’t look too good. Every 3rd house was abandoned.
“The first part is true.” I said with confidence, a slight smirk in the dark.
“You lucky dog.” We shuffled along in the center of the empty residential street.
The walk back to my place was simple enough. We took the stairs like we always do, only at 3 am the stairwell does seem creepier.
“You never have trouble with break ins?” Galba asked as we passed by red graffiti on white walls. In scrawling letters it said ‘We making crabcakes’ and then some unrecognizable symbols after it. Gang shit. I wouldn’t know anything about it.
We got to ‘313’ and I fumbled with my keys. A minute later we were inside. Just the stove light was on in the kitchen; the place seemed neater. No posters on the walls and no houseplants or sculptures. My place has just a television, a couch and table that had random magazines and stacks of mail and other papers. A bunch of folded up chairs stacked in the corner for when there’s company. A kitchen that I keep very clean and a refrigerator I clean out every week. Galba went straight to the kitchen and poured himself a drink while I went to the bathroom to assess my situation. Under the familiar light my condition looked even more bizarre. A misbuttoned and bloodstained white dress shirt. A good one too, one I had worn to interviews. I stared at my face in the dirty, blurry mirror. The same tired face. The shit on my neck was beginning to form a scab.
“This shirt is ruined.” I muttered.
“Hey, now you’ve got the beginnings of a good zombie costume. Positive thinking.” Galba downed his drink in one gulp, smacked his lips and went into the kitchen for another. He quickly emerged with the whole bottle of whiskey. He plopped on the couch and searched his pockets for his ipod.
“So you’re staying here tonight?” I tried to sound annoyed but really I was glad he was sticking around. I walked into my bedroom to get out of the club clothes.
“Let’s see…almost 4. Yeah I’ll stick around. Is that ok?” Galba got up from the couch and strolled over to the stereo.
“What was that woman’s name again?”
“Be careful.” He muttered while he plugged his ipod into my speakers. Before he played anything he made sure the volume was low because he’s a considerate guy like that. He picked some soft samba music and sat back down. Immediately he dug in his jacket pocket and pulled out a little bag of green dust. He likes to grind his weed up beforehand. I leaned over and pulled my glass pipe out of a drawer and handed it to him.
“When I pass white women on the street they adjust their shirts. Either pull them down over their hips or pull them up over their chests. Often both. When I walk into a room it happens too. What’s that shit about?” Galba asked as he stared down packing a bowl.
“Maybe you’re hot and they want to fix their outfit? Maybe they don’t want their boobs hanging out around hot guys.” As I put the lighter to the bowl and inhaled I couldn’t remember if women did that when they saw me. It happens of course but not that often. Usually I’m ignored.
“So maybe they suddenly realize their shirt has bunched up when I approach them? They suddenly feel a need to make sure their tits aren’t out when I walk into the room? Boobs are sensitive. You’d know when they are falling out wouldn’t you?”
“I’d think so. But who knows? It must bother you huh? You think you give off creeper vibes?”
“Yes!” Galba threw his hands up as he shouted.
“Well I can see you coming off as a bit scary to some people. With the tattoos and the scowling. The tough guy leather jacket and boots.”
“I don’t want my presence to make women uncomfortable before I even do anything! It isn’t just white women but it is white women that do it the most. It makes me feel like an outcast. I already know I am but shit give me a chance to do something weird first.” Galba sighed heavily and the smoke billowed out of his nostrils in thick clouds.
“Women have it tough in that way. They want to look cute but they don’t want people undressing them with their eyes ya know. Catcalling them. Hitting on them in that pushy way. It has to be annoying. Sometimes dangerous.” I was just talking. I was tired, drunk and getting higher by the second. I could feel a pulsing throughout my body. I guess it was my heartbeat.
“Yeah I get that. They always have to be on guard about that stuff. What I don’t appreciate is being treated like I’m gonna do something before I even do it! It makes me mad!” Galba threw back another swig of whiskey and coughed afterward.
“Man you can’t worry about how others perceive you. It isn’t up to you. Just be yourself. You’re a nice dude. If someone can’t see it that’s their problem.”
“They think I can’t control myself or something?! I wouldn’t want to fondle most of those broads anyway. They think they’re so hot. They think I’m just dying to assault them. Fucking bitches.”
“Chill out man. Go to sleep. I’m going to bed. I have work at 11.” With that I closed the door. I drifted into dreamland while jazz strutted and pranced softly in the living room.
National Geographic says attraction is all chemicals. Isn’t everything when you get down to it? Our whole world, or identities and thoughts are just thunderstorms in our brains. Sorry I was on a tangent. The point is that only certain people can give you that release even if it is dumb.
You know I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. These past few years were filled with hijinks. They just don’t like me enough these days. I’m older now; and the game changed. Girls look for guys that are tall and cute. They check to see if he’s popular or if he has a car. Women however are intensely focused on males with status and resources. Just like men are intensely focused on cues to fertility. I read it in a book somewhere. They’re older and smarter. They’re thinking long term. They’ve fucked around with enough losers that had a special certain something. Now they’re looking for someone that has a pot to piss in. Someone responsible. Someone with a future not among the underclass. That’s their right.
When I woke up around 9 Galba was gone. I showered and got ready for work. I should probably skip boring stuff like this. Work was uneventful. We had more campers than usual that day though. One guy in a suit camped out at his table for 2 hours. Yeah he was alone the whole time. Kept his shades on the whole time too. What kind of a douche keeps his sunglasses on indoors? If he was blind he woulda had a cane or a super dog or something.
At work I tried not to think of her. Most of the time I didn’t. You know that is another good thing about work; you get so distracted chopping peppers, flipping burgers or deep frying nuggets that other things just fade in the background. I did think of her often though. Wondering when I should call. Wondering if ejaculating in her birth canal was a good idea. Wondering how this thing was gonna play out. Work wasn’t busy and it wasn’t slow. A steady pace that kept me moving. I told a co-worker about my hookup and from the jump he suggested I get tested.
“She did that with you. You think you’re the only stranger she’s fucked raw? That girl is freaked the fuck out. Better make sure you didn’t catch nothing bro.” He said as he dumped a basket of fries into the hot oil. At that moment the sizzling sound make me grimace.
On the ride home I decided I was going to call her. When I got to my apartment building there was a guy in a black suit just standing on the sidewalk talking on a cellphone. Something about him seemed out of place and it wasn’t just him being white. Who wears sunglasses at night? Yeah that 80s song is cool. I shuffled past him up the stairs to my place and I could feel his eyes turn to me. I’m not sure though because I didn’t turn to look. Before I turned the key I looked around more than I usually do. As soon as I got in I took off my dirty uniform and tossed it into the bathroom. I went into the kitchen and grabbed a pot and a can of soup. It is funny that I cook food for a living but after work I just order a pizza or heat up some soup. As I went to the window to close the blinds I noticed the man in the suit was gone. I had no idea about any of that but I did know I wanted to call Violet. A swig of whiskey later I was looking for the slip of paper with her number on it. She picked up in the middle of the 5th ring. A very abrupt:
“Hello?” Her voice sounded flat, like she was bored.
“Hello. This is Tom. That guy from the club. How are you?” I tried to sound upbeat and confident. No one wants to hang out with a downer.
“Oh hi! I’m alright how are you?” Her tone suddenly brightened up and it made me smile. I muttered something about being great and took another long gulp from the bottle.
“Did you want to go out anytime this week?” Suddenly I felt like I was rushing things. I looked around my apartment. At the boring brown carpet, the lack of posters or knickknacks and the bulky old television I rarely watch connected to the outdated playstation I rarely play. I knew the trash bin in the kitchen was full of empty soup cans, pizza boxes, paper plates and napkins. I was going to take her back to this?
“Of course. What are you doing tonight?” She really sounded excited.
“Nothing much. Might watch the Twilight Zone later. What do you want to do?”
“Doesn’t matter. I know we’ll think of something. Would you like to meet on the corner of Warren and Cass? In about an hour?”
“Yeah that would be cool.”
After a couple more minutes of talking I hung up and rushed into the bathroom to clean up. After that I probably spent 10 minutes picking out what to wear. Twice as long as it usually takes me. I put cologne on; something I rarely do. Then I was out the door.
I stood there at the plaza waiting on my date like a jackass. I was at least 10 minutes early with my khaki pants and ugly kaleidoscope sweater. The wind was barely blowing and the streets were almost empty. If I wore a watch I would have been checking it a lot. Nervous isn’t the word. Why? I remember I wanted to make a solid connection. What Violet and I did earlier that week was just a random thing I thought. I was sure she was gonna tell me all about what a mistake our hookup was over dinner. She didn’t seem to care much but she’s got to right?
“Hey guy.” I was turning a corner and a sweet voice rang out from under a stone portico of an office building. I stopped and Violet emerged from the shadows. She was wearing a black turtleneck tucked into tight pale blue jeans. She had on black jump boots and they were actually laced up and tied like an adult. She wore a man’s black sportcoat and no hat. Her thick curly hair was pulled back into a fluffy ponytail and she wore thick dark sunglasses. Pretty sure the sun was almost done for the day so I didn’t get why she had them on.
“You look like Bill Cosby. I love it.” She giggled.
We got a nice corner booth in the back of the restaurant. The lights were low and there were candles at each table. It was a family owned Italian place, with murals of the leaning tower of Pisa on one wall and a painting of St Paul’s Cathedral taking up the opposite wall. The carpet was a deep burgundy. The tables and chairs were a dark brown, the wood shiny and glossy. Right it is called lacquer. The tablecloth was of course checkered red and white. You’re Italian aren’t you Laura? What’s with the checkered tablecloth? Oh you aren’t Italian like that. I get it. I’m French but not like that. God bless the melting pot am I right? Well technically mostly French Canadian.
We settled into a booth and I bought a bottle of moderately priced red wine. I didn’t get the cheapest one because I didn’t want to seem cheap to Violet. She’d find out soon enough.
“Hrm I love it when there’s not a lot of people in here. Reminds me of those mob movies.” Violet was looking directly at me as she spoke; with an expression I couldn’t quite figure out. Staring into my face and holding her gaze like someone actually interested.
“Yeah. Like we’re special and can’t be bothered with overhearing someone else’s dining experience. Or is it just 8:30 on a Sunday?” I forced a chuckle so my statement wouldn’t sound so snarky. Violet called me on the fake chuckle and did not return it.
“Will you relax? Think about it like this. I’ve already fucked you. Odds are we will fuck again. No need to be phony even in the slightest. I like authenticity like everyone else.” She was still looking right at me with a smile that was barely there.
“People say they want authenticity. Then when you’re being authentic you’re weird. Or rude.” I slightly resented her powers of perception in that moment. The waiter wordlessly brought the open bottle and two glasses to our table.
“I’m not them. I’m Violet. You’re Tom. We’re different. The phrase for this date is ‘brutally honest’. Can you dig it?” She smiled big at me and my teeny weeny resentment at her awareness melted away.
“I can dig it. So why did you choose me? Out of all the hot guys in leather and fishnets why me Violet?” I jumped right into it much to her amusement.
“We chose each other. Besides I’ve already had the obviously hot guys in the scene.”
I was swallowing a large gulp of wine when she said that. It took a real effort to not choke or spit it out everywhere in a laughing explosion.
The candlelight flickered on her smooth bronze skin and looking at her like that I felt that awe you know? She just kept looking at me with that slight smile and I was unsure of what to say next.
“That was a joke Tom.”
“I know I had wine in my mouth. You almost made me wreck this tablecloth. Or your outfit!” Before she confirmed it was a joke I wasn’t quite sure.
I ordered something with rigatoni pasta, sausage, mushrooms and peppers. Violet ordered some chicken fettucine with the broccoli and alfredo sauce. I poured myself another glass and she asked me:
“Aren’t you tired of being called weird? Don’t you want to leave all those negative opinions behind?”
“People will say what they want. You can’t let it affect you. I do try to listen in case some real points are made.”
“Most of the time there aren’t any valid points. Just bitter people talking shit in a cheap effort to feel good about themselves. It doesn’t affect me at all.”
“It sounds like you have a lot of haters?”
“Not a lot. Still too many though. Are you excited for the food?” She looked away to pour herself a glass of wine.
“Yes. Where did you grow up Violet?” Everyone that knows me knows I hate small talk.
“I was born in a small town in Lowndes County Alabama. It is near Montgomery. Since I grew up I’ve moved around a lot. I came to Detroit about 3 years ago.”
“Hm. I don’t hear a southern accent from you yet. Does it only come out when you’re mad or something?”
“My accent was never strong. I’ve always been different. I’ve always been myself. Where did you grow up Mr. Thomas Marat? Do you have a middle name?” She titled her head as she asked and then looked around at the empty restaurant with satisfaction.
“I’m from here. My middle name is Strange.”
“So what? Tell me what it is.”
“No Strange is my middle name. After Robert McNamara.”
She smiled then, a delighted smile of recognition. An acknowledgement of chemistry. I smiled back. We sat there just grinning at each other for a minute.
“What do you want most from the people close to you?” She asked right before gulping down her glass.
“I want the people close to me to accept me for who I am but have no hang-ups about calling me an asshole if I’m being an asshole.” I blurted it out quick as hell.
“Everyone wants that you’re not special.” We both laughed.
We walked along the river, taking slow steps with our heads turning around over and over to look at everything; the activity of the big city. The skyscrapers of downtown to one side, the river and another country on the other. I was stopping myself from putting my arm around her, holding her hand or anything like that. Looking out at the dim distant lights hurrying along I felt that old sense of inappropriate closeness. A premature feeling of intimacy and understanding. I tried not to think about it as we talked. That sort of stuff ruins the moment; thinking about how wonderful something is while it is still happening. ‘Just go with the flow’ people would tell me.
“I just don’t know what I should do for a career. I’m not sure the things I’m good at will make me any money.” I feel I’m always saying the same old defeatist shit to too many people. No one likes a downer.
“Just keep training and getting better until you can command decent rewards? What are you good at?”
Violet knew she was being vague. She shrugged with a smile.
“I’m good at a lot of stuff. Like talking about something else.”
“Alright. I’m sure we’ll get back to your life plan. What made you decide to call me?” She turned and looked at me when she asked. My mind raced for something good to say that wasn’t ‘Cause you’re hot’ or ‘Cause I’m lonely’.
“Well any fool would give you a call after what we did right?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“I was curious. More than curious. I had to get to know you. I felt like we had skipped some steps. Like I had backstory to catch up on or something.” I looked at her to see if my answer satisfied her. It didn’t. She was looking at me waiting for me to finish.
“You are hot! You are freaky! There’s a mystery there that I have to figure out. I just have to see where this goes and that doesn’t mean I’m expecting-“ The words were just falling out in short bursts. I would have kept going if Violet hadn’t interrupted me.
“I’m different? Thanks. I know I’m different than all the other girls you’ve met Tom. The other women weren’t vampires!” She laughed.
“Wait what?” I stopped walking and stared at her. ‘Here’s where the other shoe drops’ I thought. She had to be crazy. You can’t do crazy things and not be crazy.
“Come on silly! The bite on your neck? I did that! Don’t play dumb. I’m a vampire and I like your blood. It gives me wings.”
Sitting on that bench watching the water and the lights with Violet gave me a good feeling. Sitting there watching lights from buildings flicker in the waves and feeling the chill from the Detroit river…felt like a movie. With other people a moment like that wouldn’t have counted, just a pause on the way to fun. With her it was all fun.
“Do you think about your future a lot Tom? Of course you do why am I even asking?” Violet asked with her eyes still on the night sky.
“Yes I think of it too much. I think of my past too. I think too much about bullshit that doesn’t matter. Stuff that happened a long time ago and stuff that could happen and stuff that I’d love to happen. I’ve been trying to appreciate the present more.” Saying that while staring out at the water got me thinking about the coming winter. How last winter I drank all the time and took pills and didn’t leave my apartment except to go to work. How Galba and Hella had to drag me out and how I was a bummer on the barstool when I went out. How I ignored their calls and they just came over anyway. I shook my head and the thoughts scattered. I focused on looking at the buildings, the water and the sky. The present moment was all: spaced out lovers digging the scene.
“How do you know what stuff is bullshit?”
“Trust me. Do you think about the future much?” I turned the question around on her. She answered immediately.
“Yeah. Always the very near future. I’m always thinking about my next fix.” She smiled and nodded with closed eyes as she said it. We were still talking without making eye contact. Were we stoned? Yeah actually.
“You inject it?” I tried to be casual about the heroin subject. Skipping the ‘Are you talking about the dangerous kinds of drugs?’ intro that squares do. No I’ve never touched the stuff. That junk is bad news. You have?! How are you not a junkie?! Anyway after I said that she turned to look at me with a confused face.
“No not that. I’m talking about blood.” Then she burst into laughter. A cackle that was very hot and a little too loud. It rang out among the waves and passing cars.
“You still don’t believe me. Tom you’re a trip.”
The moon was a silver sliver and the lights on top of buildings blinked in rhythm as we sat on the bench by the river. Across the water was Windsor in Canada. I couldn’t see the stars very well that night but it was comforting to be sure they were there.
“Its nice isn’t it?” I remarked to her. She nodded slowly.
I just stared at her. A bum behind us muttered something and quickly turned in the other direction.
It was past 2 am on a Sunday night but the club Violet picked was having an open mic. Right on a main street the place called Viola’s was still half full, listening to a trio of seasoned jazz men bouncing along easy and free. An upright bass player, a drummer and a guy on saxophone had the stage while I sat in a corner with my back against the wall. Violet had stepped out and she’d been gone almost 10 minutes. Her full of stout sat idle on the mahogany table while mine was tipped back to my lips. The men on stage wore slacks and ties; short grey curly hair under old school brimmed hats. The audience matched them mostly. They nodded with the music, leaning in close to whisper to one another and smiling after. I wasn’t the only white person in the club but there couldn’t have been more than a few. Not like it matters.
The beer was hearty and thick and I swallowed a big gulp as I saw Violet re-enter through the back exit. She gracefully made her way back to our table; not bumping into anyone and not slowing her stride. She was grinning as she sat down. Grinning at me.
“Are you sleepy?” She asked sweetly.
“No just drunk.” I mumbled as I took another swig of my dark beer.
“Do you feel out of place here?”
“Why because I’m white? No I’m used to it. Or is it because the people here are older? No it is nice; I don’t care. I feel safe.” She nodded in response.
“Tom you ever thought about getting circled and starting a family?”
“Oh. It doesn’t seem likely for me. My longest relationship was a year. That was years ago.”
“You feel incapable of sustaining a romantic relationship?”
“Are you too drunk to fuck tonight?” She asked bluntly as she drank long from her glass. It shocked me a little. I’m sure my eyes got wide because she chuckled when she looked at my face.
“Don’t think so. Let’s find out.” I loved that there wasn’t any forced mystery about her. She tried to be as upfront as possible and it was so refreshing. You know how it is with most people. They drop hints, give clues and leave crumbs. They expect you to read their minds. All in the name of being mysterious and interesting. Just because they’ve been conditioned to be ashamed of their sexuality. It isn’t cute it is frustrating. Especially when you’re a dork like me.
We both slammed the rest of our beer and quickly put our coats on. We stood up and walked out of the front door in an obvious hurry.
There we were walking through the sweet smelling hallway to Violet’s room. We were walking side by side and when I turned to look at her she had that same archaic smile on her face. So naturally I asked:
“What are you smiling about?”
“Oh…it just felt good to tell you some real shit about me that’s all. It is such a relief that you know Tom. And look you didn’t run away or call me crazy. Kudos to you.”
“I still don’t totally believe you. You know that right? After all you have a reflection. I checked.”
She burst into laughter. The sound echoing through the empty hallway made me smile. It reminded me of adventure and vacations.
“Don’t worry I’ll show you. Oh yes.”
Violet is hot of course but that is just for starters. We have a connection, a real vibe that is strong and easy. You know when you really like someone and you just feel a pull toward them? When you start imagining a bunch of fun possibilities for future events. When you’re cuddling and overall it feels right? Some stuff you can’t explain. I’ve always doubted that romantic crap.
With a swipe of her keycard we stumbled in Violet’s hotel room. The air was chilly and dry.
I walked into her hotel room and I remembered that I hadn’t seen a lot of hotel rooms recently. The neatness of it all was surprising. There wasn’t a lot of stuff everywhere. The room had tan carpet and walls but white sheets and countertops. Directly in front of me was a window and a desk off to the left facing a wall. To the right was a neat bed with white sheets. Beyond that to the right was a sitting area with a couch and a television mounted on the wall. Further up was the kitchen with a fridge, a microwave and she had a stove too. On top of the stove was an electric range. There was a dishwasher as well. I couldn’t see the bathroom because it was in the opposite corner. The closet was in between the kitchen and the sitting room and it had mirror paneling on the front. Yeah I guess it was a suite.
As I mumbled a compliment about her room she grabbed me and kissed deeply as I was taking off my sweater. I felt a jolt of pleasure as I tossed the ugly thing on the floor and wrapped my arms around her. We stood there with our eyes closed; our heads turning and twisting in the silence. Slowly we made our way over to the bed; still embracing and frenching.
I withdrew and opened my eyes. Violet was staring back at me and she looked calmly pleased. I unbuckled my belt and took off my shoes. She threw off her black turtleneck in one fluid motion. As I fumbled with my shirt she united her boots and moved them to the side. As I took my socks off I felt giddy. As my pants dropped I felt understood and valued.
We fell on the bed hugging and kissing. The air in the room was chilly and the curtains were shut tight. As we turned and twisted on top of the covers my boxers were struggling to contain my erection and she still had her bra and jeans. I felt slightly off balance cause of all the booze; the comforter felt like a cloud. As I paused for a breath she kissed my forehead and stood up. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her as she took her pants off under the dim kitchen light. I crawled under the covers as she undid her bra and slipped out of her black panties. She was looking at me a focused interest and not smiling. Her teardrop breasts bounced and her hips swayed as she walked over to the bed. She bent over to climb in and her bronze body had a sheen in the shadow. The sight of her full ass made my dick throb. A second later we were in each other’s arms again. We moved all around each other’s bodies with our hands. When we met the other’s fingertips we clasped tight.
Out of nowhere she broke away from the kiss and gave me a slap across the face. She laughed as I jumped up.
“Let’s fuck now!” She shouted with glee. As I looked down at her in confusion she was smiling at me. Her moon face half illuminated. I smiled back and got on top of her. She reached under the covers and guided my dick inside. First the wetness of the gates and then that smug warmth that some men kill and die for. Some women too. She gave a squeal as I entered her. The rush of feeling me gasp as my head leaned back and my eyes rolled. I looked into her eyes and they were wide looking back into mine.
It had to be past 3 am and here we were groaning and grinding. I started with slow thrusts. Going almost all the way out and then slowly back in to the hilt. I slid one hand under her back and my other hand was gliding along her pillow lips. Stroking her face. Tugging on her full curly hair. I didn’t close my eyes because I wanted to remember it all clearly. It was so dark the last time but this time I could see her mouth slightly open. I could see her breasts bounce and her hungry eyes. I lost track of time doing my long stroke. I was buzzed so I wasn’t even close to nutting yet. I thought about souls being intertwined and destiny in the making. I felt fearless because there was nowhere else I wanted to be more.
“Fuck me harder Tom.” Her breathless whisper tickled my ear and I felt a pang of anxiety. The pussy was too good; if I went hard and fast it would be over soon. I discarded the thought and remembered my training. I pulled in close to her; my face was buried in her neck as I tugged her hair harder and increased the speed. My training? Well I replay the first few levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in my head while I’m really thrusting. So I don’t bust in 2 minutes. I still hear the moans and taste the sweat. I’m still there. Its just the right level of distraction to keep me in there. You gotta do that when you want to fuck right for a long time. Stop laughing.
“Yes. Oh Tom that’s it!” She liked it. Her arms were around me and her fingernails were on my back. She wasn’t clawing me or anything but I could feel them digging in. She was holding on to me while the bed began to rock. It must have been a newer bed because the springs didn’t creak. I kept right on; replaying a battle with Dr. Robotnik while I ignored the pressure building in my core.
Warmth everywhere that’s what I felt. The salty taste of sweat and the sweet moans were swallowing me. The shadows seemed to swell as I forgot all about which zone I was on in my mental re-enactment of Sonic 2. I kept thrusting as I felt like I was falling. She kept shouting “yes” and I kept tumbling through warm shadows. I lost track of how long. I felt myself dissolve into the bed, into her and into the shadows. I grunted long and low as I landed gently back into reality. I rolled over out of breath and covered in sweat that was growing colder by the second. As I stared up at the ceiling everything was blurry. I could only hear my hard, quick breathing in my ears. Violet leaned over and kissed me. Her mouth tasted metallic.
“You’re a fuck machine Tom. Thank you.” A blurry smile from the shadows told me. Her voice echoed as I felt myself falling again; falling backward while my body seemed to spin. I was passing out. I surrendered to the darkness without a twitch of a muscle.
I woke up a few hours later to find Violet reading in bed next to me. She promptly put her book down and we talked. The sky outside was the dark purple color like dawn was coming. I realized I had to get home and she agreed.
As I was putting on my clothes Violet got up and sluggishly walked over to the closet. She opened the door and between clothes on hangers was a dark brown box leaning upright. I stopped zipping up my pants to look at what she was doing. The box was a big as she was but she picked it up and laid it on the floor as if it were half the size. It was a coffin; it was her coffin. The wood was dark and smooth. The box was simple and unmarked. Violet looked around at all the windows and then moved her coffin so it would be out of the approaching daylight. Chills ran down my back. Things about her I kept excusing for harmless weirdness were adding up to something real and strange. I went back to zipping up my pants without saying anything.
“Yes I sleep in it. I don’t need to but it is preferred.” She said as she yawned. I walked over to her slowly, staring at the box.
“Check it out.” She casually lifted the lid to show me. I saw the reddish tan dirt at the bottom. The box looked deep enough to be pretty roomy if you were in it.
“You sleep in dirt?”
“Soil from my native land. Once again it is a comfort thing. I also sleep naked too. You freaked out yet?” She gave me a smug side eye as she stood there holding the lid beside me.
“Good. So you believe me?”
“Yeah. There’s no way you would go through all this trouble to fake it.” I smelled the dirt from the coffin while standing there. I looked in the box for worms or bugs and didn’t see any.
“Right. Come on let’s go. The sooner I take you home the sooner I can jump in this thing. I’m sleepy!”
“Uh…right.” I quickly put the rest of my clothes on.
I stepped out of Violet’s car as the sun was starting to rise. The birds were chirping in the crispy cold air and some were jumping into their cars to go to work. It was a Monday morning after all.
“It was fun spending time together.” She said quickly, her face unreadable under thick black shades. She kept her hands on the steering wheel and made no effort for a goodbye hug so I didn’t give her one.
“Yeah. Glad I have the day off. I’m tired as hell.” I mumbled as I gently shut the car door.
“See ya.” And with that she shifted gears and drove off. I stood there on the sidewalk watching her black Buick pull away and she was definitely driving like she was in a hurry. She made a left onto the main street and was gone in seconds. I had feelings that I couldn’t pick out as I began climbing the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment. There were vague feelings of satisfaction with the pull of my bones urging me to get in the bed and power down.
As I approached the door I heard music from the other side. Shitty rap music a little too loud for 6 in the morning. A couple people have my key. Galba, Helena and my ex Romi. Yeah Romi and I stopped talking a while ago. I just never got it back from her.
Behind the door was my sister Helena. She was on the couch in her pajamas taking a bong hit while some angry guy rapped about all the things he’d do to his haters if they ever crossed paths. Yeah Hella is 19 now. She’s still weird. I thought she’d grow out of it too.
“Whaddup doe? You musta been having fun last night.” She didn’t even look at me while she greeted me in my own place. She stared up at the ceiling exhaling a large cloud of marijuana smoke while the music boomed and rattled. Was she smoking my weed?
“It was fun. I met a girl. What are you doing here? Are you smoking my shit without asking?” Hella stared blankly at me for a second. Remember her long wavy black hair? She cut it. She now has a forest green bob. She says it matches her eyes.
“I wouldn’t touch your shitty shit. I’m over here blowing top notch guy. I got the day off. You met a girl huh? She got kids? Is she blind or does she just see you as a project?”
Helena chuckled at her own shit as she took another hit. I reached my hand out for the bong and she passed it and the lighter while coughing. I flicked the lighter and brought it to the stinky stem. The smoke tasted like a fruity smoothie. As I handed my bong back to my sister I was already starting to feel it. Felt like I was growing taller or something.
“You feel that? Top notch.”
You’ve met my big brother Victor right? He usually dresses nice and is always calling people he doesn’t know stupid or lazy. Yes ‘driven’ is a word people have always used to describe him. Along with ‘straight shooter’, ‘ambitious’ and the conviction that Victor was ‘going places’. I didn’t know what people were talking about then. I just saw him as an arrogant control freak. A snobbish social climber. Well he’s pretty successful now so I can see why he went through with it. And look at me? Hanging out with my little sister while she rots her brain. I’m talking about the shitty rap music.
What could the present mean to someone with so many years ahead? I was talking to Violet about it. I was telling her about time slipping away from me. How the years were adding up but it still wasn’t enough to cover costs. What is a slow motion self destruction? A fizzle.
We were zoning out on the roof of a hotel. Not her hotel. An old one I used to work at. Yeah the Clifton Grange. We snuck a picnic basket to the roof. Indica, a bottle of shiraz and some really aggressive downers. Shiraz is a sweet dessert wine I didn’t know she wanted. The sky looked like shit. The clouds were all thin like streak marks. The moon was half assing it. We were laying on a lot of blankets. We put down cardboard before the blankets.
“When you were turned into a vampire was it a simple process?” I asked in a low voice; not quite believing what I was saying or that I was saying it.
“It was a long time ago and I didn’t have a choice. I was walking home from my job as a maid for the Espers up the road. A bit of a walk from where my family lived but not too bad. I was walking home after my shift. It was pitch dark but I had some light. Remember this was back on a country Alabama road in 1956.”
I tried to think about what was going on in 1956. They still had black and white tvs. Everyone was nuts about communists. There were more jobs. Suburbs were new and exciting right? I couldn’t even imagine.
“A man drove up and offered me a ride. He was fine and he drove a nice car so I got in and that’s how it started. He sucked me dry by the side of the road. Instead of letting me die he turned me and kept me as some sort of adopted daughter.”
“Did you ever see your family again?”
“Yes a few days later I went back. They knew something had happened though. They said I smelled differently and carried myself differently. It had just been a couple days. They said I was tainted with evil. My folks were very religious.” Violet stared out at the sky as if distracted.
“Jesus. How old were you when all this happened?” I was starting to really believe her. The weirdness was too consistent.
“So what happened after that?”
“So I left with Conrad. Never saw them again after that. Never went back and never tried to find any of them.” I was really starting to believe her now.
“But being how you are…being so different the years have got to feel so different. But maybe it feels worse because you have like 3x the regrets…”
“You’d be surprised. And you sound like a defeated old man. You don’t even have kids. You’re reasonably healthy and your circulation is superb. You’re only like what 25?”
“I’ll be 26 in a couple months. I’m whining I know.”
“Tom I was born in 1927. Under President Calvin Coolidge. I was turned into a vampire during Eisenhower’s term. I’m 86 but frozen at 29. Trust me when I say stop wondering about what could happen. Get out there and make some choices.” She turned and looked directly at me with a very serious face. I stared at her waiting for her to chuckle or laugh. She didn’t.
“If you were an 86 year old human woman you’d be a lot different.” I think the drugs were starting to get to me then.
“Yes I’d be different. I’d be old! The point is you’ve got it so good right now. You’ve got to realize. Your story is just beginning.”
“No it isn’t! I’m not a baby. I’m a adult! The future doesn’t look promising! The grown ups lied to me!”
“You sure do sound like a baby.”
Maybe we were fucked up by then. The second we got up to that roof we dove right into the abuse. I couldn’t feel the breeze by then. Walking just felt like bouncing around. It was suddenly ok to say exactly what was on my mind again.
“I know life is what you make it. Consistent effort is the key blah blah. The fucking credentials quest is a racket though. Licensing and certificates and unpaid training and debt! And I’m just supposed to apply for more credit and watch some cat videos!?”
“The decline in manufacturing has been remarkable. Listen Rust Belt Boy you can whine about it while shining shoes or you can pull your pants up and keep swinging. Take some risks.”
“Violet no one shines shoes anymore! Everyone wears sneakers. And we have machines to buff them anyway. And you’re talking in catchphrases I hate that!”
Then we had a laugh attack. She was right though.
“Would you still like me if I really was an 86 year old woman? Human and all that. Would you still be here on this roof with me?” She turned to look at me with a face patiently waiting for a response. I stammered.
“Would you be able to get to the roof? Would you want to do drugs, drink and lay on blankets at that age?” She laughed when I said it. I felt clever for saying it.
“You know 1985 was a milestone for me. Since then I’ve lived longer as…this than I did as a regular woman.”
“How do you celebrate something like that?”
“Conrad threw a party for me. I didn’t really feel like partying but I had fun.”
“Make me a vampire like you.” I just blurted it out cause I was fucked up.
“Shut up don’t talk like that.” She suddenly grimaced at me.
“Turn me into a vampire. Let’s both be vampires.”
“We’ll talk about this later. You’re fucked up.” So we chilled out on the roof for a while.
“You should be glad this happened. Not worried about it.”
Galba muttered while eating his cheeseburger. We were at a mall food court in the northern suburbs. About 15 miles from my place. It was a nice-ish mall. It had a Nordstrom’s after all. It had been a couple days since I had last seen her.
“I’m not worried. Just confused about the whole thing. Its happening pretty quickly.”
“What’s happening pretty quickly?” Galba paused to look at me blankly.
“You know, the whole thing. We’ve met, we’ve done it and now its either going to become a relationship thing or its going to explode. Or implode. What I mean is that now-”
“You’re talking nonsense. You don’t know what is going to happen. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. What’s her name again?”
“Violet!” I almost shouted it. I was annoyed by my friend forgetting her name. The name of my love interest.
“I remember her name I was testing you. You’re starting to like this Violet. Just go with the flow man. Stop being so anxious. This burger ain’t bad.” Galba looked pleased as he looked down at the half eaten cheeseburger in his hand.
“It is clear she isn’t like other girls. That means you shouldn’t have the same assumptions about her that you’ve had about other women you’ve been involved with. This is all very serious and I’m struggling to use adult language.”
“My assumption is eventually one of us will want an exclusive relationship. If that relationship doesn’t happen then we’ll stop hanging out and never talk again.”
“You don’t know if that’s the case. You do not know what she wants. You aren’t sure what you want. So be glad you’ve been selected and try your best to both treat her right and not be a fool. For now, eat your cheeseburger and fries. Drink your cola and think about this blunt we’re going to smoke when we get out of here. Enjoy the present moment.”
“Yeah. I’m just starting to really like her that’s all. You know how I get when I really like someone.”
“You get pathetic! The first time I saw you cry was in 10th grade. You had a crush on Lucy, made out with her one time! Then she started dating that guy on the basketball team. You stuck your head in a locker so no one would see you cry.”
“I haven’t forgotten Galba.” I probably had a sour look on my face as I said that.
When I got home I made myself a turkey sandwich and watched the local news while I smoked a joint. Then I went to bed. Woke up 3 hours later walking on sunshine. Smoked another joint and decided to go bowling with my sister and her degenerate friends. I don’t understand what they’re so upset about. When I ask them to explain they just make bitchy faces.
The whole time I was hanging out with them I was thinking about Violet. All I could think about was hypothetical situations. The excitement of potential. Like finding a new hiding place. Some nice little spot tucked away with somewhere to sit and think. Where the sun isn’t in your eyes and there’s a view to think on. She felt like that; like a secret garden. I thought of Violet meeting my family. I imagined great discussions on the playground swings in the moonlight. Me meeting Violet’s family. A family she didn’t even have. Us getting married. When you like someone you imagine a future with them right? You try out the idea in your head. It is natural. With V though it was a big question mark. For so many reasons it was a warm, throbbing unknown. That’s when smart people realize it’s a fling. It just egged me on.
I hate it when I get like that. Full of the hope that feels rushed and false. My life was still a hot mess of poverty and unrealized potential whether there was a love interest or not. You know me, always cursing my weakness. I wish I could have realized that there was nothing about my life that was doomed. That I had regular problems just like everybody else.