Monday, March 21, 2011
Wanderlust part 6
Photo credit is moi. That is our crazy ass moon Saturday night. Pretty, yes?
Good morning all. Um...happy...Monday? Well, Monday either way. Good morning.
by Sommer Marsden
I wasn’t going to go—no way. I fingered the matchbook—black paper with a neon green name and phone number “Mooney’s”. Sounded like a corner city bar. A place packed with patrons who started drinking with their dipping eggs and smoked inside despite the new laws and settled issues and arguments with their fists. I’d done my share of “slumming” in college and could shut my eyes and imagine the inside of the bar. Probably brickwork on the walls, low ceilings—pressed tin, most likely—and bar stools patched with duct tape.
“I’m not going,” I told the matchbook and stuck it in my pajama pants pocket.
Jackson was reading in bed and I was restless. We rarely roosted for the night together—ours was not that kind of cardboard cutout marriage.
I put a movie on cable, poured myself a drink, but drank seltzer water instead. I flipped through a really good book I’d been reading that was now really boring. I tried to watch the horror movie and on the fifth loud shriek from the actress, turned to a cooking channel.
“I’m not going,” I told my seltzer water.
Jackson was snoring sitting up when I snuck in the bedroom. I slipped through the narrow opening in my closet door. I’d left it ajar and for that I was grateful. In the semi-dark I found a pair of faded jeans, a black sweater, a black pair of flats. Dressing as quietly as I could, I told myself I was going to tell Johnny to back off. That I wasn’t interested. That I was married and sane and had no interest in anything more than a brief fuck. And since he had already made it clear that he was not one of my ‘napkin boys’—someone I could use and then beat feet. There were plenty of pretty boys more than willing to simply have some sex in a coatroom and call it a day.
“Because you are so very special you can fuck with no feeling.”
It hit me that I’d said that aloud and my heart quickened. My stomach felt sick. My vision sparkled with tiny dots of light even in the darkness.
I pushed out of the closet and tiptoed past my sleeping husband. He turned at the last minute, settling on his side and when I started to push the door shut behind me he whispered “Say hi to the new guy for me, Really.”
I pretended not to hear.
The drive to Mooney’s was windy and cold, the fat moon peeking out from behind thick but shifting clouds. I wished I’d worn boots, a coat—fuck—underpants. If wishes were gumdrops we’d all be fat. That’s what my father always says, bastardizing the old saying for his amusement.
I didn’t wish often. Maybe that’s why I forgot to eat lunch and often punished myself by not eating food I wanted and remained perpetually thin. I refused to wish.
But I wished—hoped—that Johnny would still be at Mooney’s when I showed up.
And then I felt like a shit for wanting it.
The inside of Mooney’s made a liar out of me. It was painted brickwork, thank you very much—painted a cream color to lighten the space. The ceiling was pressed copper instead of tin and the window in the front was full of plants. Plastic ones, but still…And I only spotted one barstool patched with duct tape.
Beer signs over the bar threw neon splashes on the patron’s bellied up to the long shellacked length of wood. On closer inspection, beer coasters had been sealed under a protective layer. Johnny sat at the far end, his shorn head dripping in neon blue, his face bent over a paper. It was folded into a neat rectangle. I expected him to be doing a puzzle or something, but he was simply reading an article about neighborhood cleanup. Go figure.
He raised his head as I approached, almost as if he sensed me even in the small cluster of regulars and slumming college kids from the local campus.
“Snowflake, you made it.”
My belly dipped at the rich, gruff texture of his words. It was like being touched with language. It made no sense but it made all the sense in the world.
I nodded but said nothing, pulled out the stool next to him and dropped on to it. My legs weren’t feeling too steady at the moment.
“Didn’t think you would,” he said, raising a finger to the bartender. He pointed at himself and then at me. The bartender gave a nod, his hands dipping into the cooler.
Two Belgian ales were placed in front of us—lacy white heads and a slice of fresh orange clinging to the glass. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I was surprised.
“Sláinte,” he said.
“I’m whatever I want to be.”
He grinned and I was grateful to be sitting. He didn’t smile much, it seemed, so when he did, it had a magical quality to it. Something you felt the urge to pay attention to because you had no idea when you’d see it again.
“So you didn’t think I’d come,” I said. I sipped my beer, liking the sweet bite of the orange on my tongue.
“Nope. Well, maybe a bit. But I was pretty sure about an hour ago that you’d decided you didn’t want to be around the likes of me anymore.” He shrugged, his big shoulders looking much more at home in an open flannel shirt with a dark blue tee under it.
Those surreal blue eyes, that I’d almost—almost—forgotten about, settled on me. “Figured I didn’t give you what you wanted.”
“I don’t know what I want,” I said. It felt good to just say it out loud. To just tell the truth for once.
“Nothing wrong with that.”
“In my world there is everything wrong with that,” I laughed. I downed half my beer in three swigs.
He looked impressed and I couldn’t help but grin.
“I like not knowing what I want at any given time,” Johnny said. He pushed a bowl of pretzels to me and I tried to remember the last time I’d eaten. I couldn’t remember so I went ahead and popped a few in my mouth. They were good and salty and I washed them down by swishing beer around in my mouth like a kid trying to liquefy Jell-O.
“Must be nice.
He nodded. “But right now I know what I want.”
“To do this.” His big fingers snagged the front of my sweater and I watched—mildly stunned—as he twisted the fabric around in his hand and yanked me.
I sort of fell-leaned-careened forward and when he kissed me, I opened my mouth, letting his tongue slide over and around mine. He yanked me in just a little more so I had to splay my hands on his thighs to keep my balance. He kissed me until I felt like I was floating and then he kissed me a little more.