Bye Bye Miss American PiebyIan56©
It was Friday night and the big city blues were in full swing. Amidst the swirl of alcohol and misty tobacco I was with a few of the (motley) crew from lower south side getting totally blitzed on cheap vodka and snakebites as we sat listening to the sound of rebellion coming from the Fat Larry jukebox.
Call me Joe by the way. At last count I'm 25 going on 40. Looks wise I'm tall, dark but nothing special at all. Anyway, I looked better in the shadows. In the shadows is what I do best these days. Give me a dark corner away from the bright city lights any time. Nothing beats living and riding on the cutting edge of twilight as day turns to dusk. No rules - No responsibility is my motto. Look after number one. Friday night was the night to hang loose with the band and watch the underworld come to life whilst listening to jumping jack flash having a gas gas gas.
Nate, 22, a slave to his music with his orange hair glowing neon like in the gloom lifted his shaggy head and waved his glass wanting attention from whichever waitress had the bottle of 100% proof vodka to hand. "Hey bitch babe, need a refill like yesterday. Come on honey gimme another shot." As you can see Nate has a way with the ladies.
Across the table Bruno, a 5' 6 pocket midget mongrel of mixed Italian/Portuguese decent and our rhythm king looked up from behind his veil of Cuban mist and flicked a peanut at our ladies man. "Hey reefer, show the lady some fuckin' respect man. If not for her you'd have ta haul that skinny ass of yours to the bar."
Nate made a face at the bass man and gave him the single digit salute. "Eat me, beat me, you slicked back prick." He turned as the waitress came over with a collection of shorts and long burns on her tray. "About time honey." he muttered sarcastically.
The petite legit blonde ignored his pimple-covered face. "Don't call me honey or else." said the girl as she glanced in my direction.
She was attractive in a world-weary sort of way. I gave her the once over then just as quickly shook my head at my own self-disgust. Who am I to judge anyone? I needed another hit so I indicated the empty glass. She poured my drink first much to my loudmouth buddies irritation. "Thanks." I said. Maybe it was the uniform.
Nate sat back smirking at her as she finally topped him up. "Or else what honey?" He was leering at her, looking her up and down as he sat there grinning. I drained my glass watching the cocky little shit. All the other guys reckoned Nathaniel Boone would inevitably and deservedly end up getting a bloody good kicking one of these days. Maybe even from one of us lot if he didn't cut the crap.
The waitress put down her tray carefully and rested both hands onto the table in front of a still grinning Nate. She nodded towards the bar where a huge black guy stood flexing his muscles like he ruled the world as he mixed cocktails and other concoctions. "Or else I'll go get my man to rip out your heart and spoon feed it to you on a plate."
Both Bruno and I chuckled behind our drinks. "Amen sis." he said as Nate's eyebrows shot off the top of his head with alarm. "You listen to the lady slickwillie. You might live longer." said Bruno as he blew a perfect smoke ring in his general direction.
Nate had enough brains left in that thick skull of his to quit while he thought he was still ahead. He sat back all wide eyed and bluster. "Oh ah hey lady. I was just shooting from the lip. No harm meant. Ask the guys. Ain't that right guys?" Nate probably had a yellow backbone but was a good kid all things considered and he did know how to play guitar.
"Ignore junior Miss." I said, sitting forward so that I emerged from the shadows into the pool of light from a honey lamp that painted an orange circle on the table in front of us. "His yelp is worse than his bark. Best refill his glass. It'll be the only way to keep the little bastard quiet otherwise."
The waitress laughed. "I'll take your word for it." she said as she filled all our glasses again before walking back over to her "man" and whispering something in his ear which made him laugh and draw his finger across his throat theatrically. Nate blanched and slunk further down in his seat as Bruno and I pissed ourselves laughing.
It had gone eleven when our lead singer and earth mother arrived. By that time Nate was reduced to running his tongue around the rim of the bottle mumbling endearments to the long since departed liquor. Bruno was just - well, Bruno, and I was sat there feeling decidedly mellow after a day spent chasing money through the darkness of cyber-space. Being self-employed is definitely the way to go as far as I was concerned. The trick was being in the right place at the right time to make a killing.
Shawna saw us and came over to our little alcove. It wasn't until she was closer did I realise she wasn't alone. "Hey everyone." she said brightly which was ironic since she always dressed in black. Hell, even her hair was dyed the same colour along with her fearsome fingernails. "Where's Biffo?" Biffo was our drummer. Biffo gave a whole new meaning to the phrase. "Laid back." Knowing Biffo he was probably on the floor in his flat snoring off a major hangover.
Nate was giving the bottle a blow job and Bruno was staring curiously at the newcomer who was hiding behind our singers back. "Probably trying to figure out how to pay his rent I guess." I smiled. "Old man Bufford has been on his case again since the end of the month. Be careful, he might end up shacked up with you one of these days." I replied as I moved along the curved seat to let her and her companion sit beside me. Shawna laughed. The sort of laugh that shines a light into the dark. Shawna was a year or so younger than me at 24 and we had known each other since we were kids. Not so tall, faux midnight hair and with a figure best described as "willowy" she was blessed with a voice that could make an angel weep. She was a classy lady who was on the road to somewhere. Playing the twilight circuit with the band was another way she could supplement her day job as a temp to pay her way through higher education. Not that we were making a bundle that is. We just toured the regular haunts hoping to get ourselves noticed from some agent or other and were paid enough to cover expenses with a little left over which we split each way. Optimism is a wonderful virtue. It was a virtue we all clung to - desperately.
"Well, that figures." she grinned as she slipped around so that our hip bones touched. "Biffo never was one for being punctual." She looked at Nate. "Hey proletariat, you keep sucking like that you're going to end up in jail doing it for real."
Nate raised an eyelid but kept his lips fixed around the lip of the vodka bottle. "Screw you." he mumbled, his voice distorted by the glassy echo.
Bruno stubbed out his cigar in the faded silver ashtray. "Leave him be Shawna. He's being a good boy now."
"Oh?" she said sounding surprised.
"Let's just say he appreciates working for the minimum wage a bit more." I explained as I glanced at the girl sitting beside her. I tilted my head. "Hi there, I'm Joe." I stuck out my hand across Shawna. Despite the shadows and gloom it was obvious she was a looker. She had a full head of what appeared to be reddish hair that hung down past her shoulders and looked carefree and unkempt in a deliberate way. She looked younger than Shawna but was slightly taller and fuller.
Shawna made introductions. "Oh everyone, this is my cousin Rosemary. She's here on vacation for a couple of weeks. She's American.
Rosemary was day to Shawna's night. As she reached across to take my hand her face caught the light and I caught my breath. Her features were strong, defined and memorable. From that moment I knew I'd be singing about her in some backstreet bar for the rest of my days. She slipped her slim right hand into mine. "Hi. Pleased to meet you Joe. Shawna has told me all about you." Her voice was as memorable as her looks. Each and every word was spoken with clear and pure weight that sounded as if she was singing each and every word. Her hand was warm, her eyes were shining and her lips were smiling.
I glanced at Shawna warily. "Oh she did did she?" Shawna and I went way way back. Even had a relationship of sorts when we were hipsters where we spent a hot and lazy summer exploring the facts of life. "She has been known to exaggerate and tell blatant lies sometimes."
Shawna gasped a laugh. "You shit. I do not." She turned to Rosemary. "See, I told you he was the modest type."
Rosemary picked up her drink. "Nothing wrong with a little modesty Shawna." she smiled. "Anyway, don't they say it's the quiet modest ones who are the most mysterious?"
Bruno laughed. "Mysterious. That's Joe all right."
"Shawna says you have many talents." said Rosemary, looking at me over the rim of her glass before she took a sip. She had sat back slightly into the shadows and all I could see was the reflection of the lamp in her eyes. "She says you know how to make everything tick."
Shawna sat between us saying nothing although I suspected she was enjoying my growing discomfort at her cousin's questions. How much had she told her? Even about our time together? Bruno was still sat opposite watching in that way he had that made you feel he knew everything about anything and anyone. No wonder I sometimes called him the Chief. Nate on the other hand had gone back to contemplating both the bottle and his navel as his stupor sank in. I saw the Chief raise an eyebrow.
"Everything or everyone?" I answered calmly. Inside I was starting to churn. How much had Shawna told her?
The girl from the States just returned my smile.
Sinking slowly over the concrete cityscape the sun bathed the world in a twilight glow that silhouetted the clouds against the red hued sky as it slowly sank into the west. The city itself was becoming lit by neon and its heartbeat moved to the sound of the night people. This was my time. The time I was awake when most were asleep. I was at my regular bar sitting in my regular seat drinking my regular beer just listening and watching the sights and sounds of city nightlife as I loved to do. The Bartender came over cleaning a glass with his cloth. "How goes the flow Joe?" he asked as the light reflected off his spectacularly bald head.
I finished my shot and pushed the glass in his direction. "The flow goes good Hank. No complaints here. How's business?" Hank was in his late fifties and had seen off three wives and god knows how many mistresses. Over 6ft, he kept himself in pretty good shape.
"With people like you around Joe you'll keep the baliffs and tick tack sheisters from my door." he laughed. "Another shot to suppliment my pension?"
"Sure." I said. Who am I to turn down an offer like that? I glanced over my shoulder feeling a twinge of disappointment at the sight of strangers sitting in our regular booth. "Any of the others been in today?"
The Bartender shook his head. "Nope. Can't say I've seen them since you were all together the other night. Nice looking lady."
"Shawna's cousin." He pressed the valve and refilled my glass.
"Oh, you mean Rosemary." I nodded in a matter of fact way. "Yeah, I guess so."
"From the States. Nice accent. Pittsburgh I think she said she was from. Charming too." laughed Hank. "You know Joe, there are times I wish I was 20 years younger but with the same amount of wisdom and hindsight I have right now."
"Maybe she likes older men."
He snorted. "Oh sure. In my dreams. Cute ass though."
He winked as I made a face and groaned something about him turning into a dirty old man. "Can't say I've noticed." I lied. It was probably the only thing on my mind since I'd met her. It had been the briefest of glimpses. Shawna had figured it was late so she told her American cousin they had best go. Surprised to feel a dull disappointment, I had watched her as she slid out of the booth and stood to put on her coat. She had turned away from me slightly and gave me a perfect view of a firm pair of buttocks packed into her tight pair of jeans. God strike me down but I love a woman's ass in denim. Her ass held my attention so much that I was completely oblivious to the fact that she had said something and was staring at me. "Joe..."
I had a vision of those jeans being tugged over her firm backside.
That's my name isn't it? Someone was calling my name.
I had blinked and looked up. "Huh, sorry - what?"
Rosemary shrugged the coat over her shoulders. "I said. Good night Joe."
I shook my head and downed my drink in one. Hank the Bartender was right. She did have a cute ass. A real cute ass. An even better one than Shawna's come to think of it. By God, I had had some fun with her ass once upon a time. It was an interest that had become an obsession at times for I had spent many an hour worshipping it in oh so many special ways. I looked across the bar to see a stranger staring back at me. I raised my glass and the stranger raised his in perfect symmetry. Where had I - we - gone wrong? Never mix business with pleasure. Loving you was the right thing to do. How can I say things that I feel? If I could I would have given you my world. Now you've gone your own way I realise loving you was the last thing I should have done.
I picked up my empty glass and contemplated it. Alcohol - the reason for and solution to all life's little problems.
"Can I buy you a drink mister?" a feminine voice offered.
I was still sober enough to appreciate an offer like that as I turned my head to see Shawna's cousin standing there smiling at me in that way that made the world a brighter place. She tilted her head and lent an arm on the bar. "I take it women are allowed to buy men a drink over here?" she asked, her voice smiling as she said it. She looked stunning. She had tied her long hair back into a ponytail and was wearing a plain white blouse over which she had a leather waistcoat along with a pair of tight fitting deep blue denim jeans and Rough Rider boots. She looked like a cowgirl and from the sudden shift in atmosphere I could tell she had made a big impression amongst all the world-weary souls sat lamenting into their beers.
I eased back on my stool as she sat herself perfectly down on the one next to me. "Before you came in they weren't. Now they can. I just made it a new enforceable law. Just for you. I'll have the same again."
"I guess you don't do Dutch either." she laughed as she caught the Bartenders eye. As if old Hank wasn't staring at her in the first place - every man in the room was. Some women have an aura about them. Shawna's cousin was definitely one of them. I caught her amused gaze and could see the teasing sparkle in them.
"Ah." I replied with a shrug. "Now that depends on what sort of Dutch you're talking about doesn't it."
Her beautiful smiled got wider as she lifted her glass to her lips. "I guess it does mister. I guess it does."
The night sky was neon black as we walked along the river front just enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. Back at the bar we'd sat making small talk about the usual things. Life, the universe and everything. How we'd got here, what we were doing now and where we hoped to end up in the future. Normally I'm not one for discussing my personal life with someone who was for all intents and purposes a complete stranger but I felt strangely comfortable and at ease in her presence. She appeared genuinely interested in my life and opinions, which made me appreciate her even more.
We had left the bar and had wandered where the mood and the breeze had taken us just enjoying each other's company. Sitting on a park bench on a grassy embankment above the city river we sat eating hotdogs under a crescent moon. Her face was in silhouette when she suddenly said "I only have seven days left before I go back home."
I didn't say anything but sat looking at her only hearing the rise and fall of the waves. She brushed the crumbs off her thighs and turned to look at me. She held my gaze. For the first time in my life I appreciated time. I suddenly realised that time was not infinite but finite. My world had shrunk to seven days.
I wanted to say something profound but the surge of despair caught my voice. But she quickly lent forward and rested her fingers against my lips. "Shhhhh. I know. I feel it too." I took and kissed her hand. "In a way, I've known for a long time." she whispered as she moved closer to my side. She saw the question in my eyes as I lifted my arm for her to slip under. "Shawna always talked about you." she said as I felt her warm breath on my right cheek. "By phone or by e-mail. She would tell me everything about you. The things you did together." She looked at me in a sad way. "She always said she thought you were the one. She still doesn't know why she broke up with you. She tried to tell me once, she told me she was day to your night. Does that make sense?"
I dropped my gaze and looked out over the river at the cityscape. It made perfect sense. I nodded. "Yes."
Rosemary raised her hand and caressed my cheek gently. "It took her a long time to get over you Joe - a long time."
"I thought she was the one too." I said. I had the sudden urge to explain everything. "But I always felt she wanted me to be different. To be - normal. I think she was afraid to tell me that for it would have changed everything. In my heart I probably know what it was she wanted to tell me - what she wanted of me. But if I became what she wanted me to become I would have spent the rest of our days together living a lie."
Rosemary sat listening silently. I could see the moonlight reflecting in her eyes. "Shawna told me." she said softly. "Shawna told me the reason why."
Finite time stood still. We were staring at each other with an intensity that was as binding as it was overwhelming. Time may be finite but our thoughts were eternal. Her lips opened slightly and I could sense she was adrift in a storm of indecision and reasoning. Her bright eyes were wide now. I could feel the rise and fall of her breathing and the thunder of her heart.
Shawna had TOLD her?
I could feel her warm hand in mine. With my free hand I pulled her closer until our faces were not six inches apart. "She told you?" How could Shawna tell her something as intimate as that?
Rosemary was still looking at me but there was a different light in her eyes now. Her lips parted slightly as she nodded her head. "I know." she whispered. "I know about the spanking."
In those early morning hours we made love until we couldn't make love any more. Lying across my chest entwined, sated and languid in the snare of sheets I listened to the rise and fall of her breathing as she dreamed a dream that maybe, just maybe I was part of. Gently I reached up and brushed away a strand of hair from her cheek as her lips curved into a secret smile that made her groan softly. She was silver under the moonlight that bathed the room in its frosty glow. Pristine and pure she looked. I closed my eyes feeling the dull ache in my loins and the empty surge as the whisper of past sighs filled my head.
So much had happened between us in such a short space of time. I opened them to find my gaze drawn to her buttocks, which curved in a way that couldn't be described without failing to do their grace justice. They were perfect. She was perfect. Seven days. Time enough to live a lifetime You're just too good to be true. I can't take my eyes off of you. You were like heaven to spank. God I wanted to do so oh so much. At long last love had arrived and I thanked God you were alive. You're just too good to be true because I can't take my eyes off of you.
The riverside breeze caught her copper hair as she whispered the words "I know about the spanking."