Strange things happen at the strangest times. Last week a client of mine gave me a ticket to the opera. Why I don't know, but he did. Me at an opera would be a terrible thing to consider from anyone's point of view, especially mine. Now don't get me wrong, I love music, all kinds of music with maybe the exception of acid rock, rap, and hard opera. The idea of a fat lady belting out a story in song and in a foreign language to boot is just not my cup of tea.
The only reason I even accepted the ticket was that he is a good customer. I figured I could give it away later. When I asked why he didn't go, he told me he had to be out of town on business and anyway his ex wife had the other ticket. I hadn't even known he was married, much less recently divorced.
Checking the ticket, I found out the opera was Saturday night at eight. Now that it was Saturday afternoon and I hadn't found anyone to give the ticket to, I felt bad about taking it in the first place. Several people were interested but wanted a pair of tickets, not just one.
Sandy, one of the people I thought might want the ticket jokingly said, "Why don't you go? You would definitely meet a better grade of people than you would in here tonight."
We were sitting in the local bar and she was right about that, this is not the classiest place in the world, that's for sure. But still, me at the opera, who's kidding whom here? Then I got to thinking about the ex wife. Well that got my curiosity up and that's a hard cat to kill.
Back at the house I checked out my closet, what exactly does one wear to the opera? Tails and a top hat crossed my mind; I got a good laugh out of that. With a little digging and a lot of head scratching, I finally settled on black rancher slacks, the gold pin stripped shirt I had gotten married in years ago, a bolo tie, my good ostrich boots, a light tan pigskin coat, and a whisky colored Stetson.
After a quick shower and shave, I got dressed. Looking at myself in the full length mirror on the bathroom door, I had to grin and shake my head, talk about the sow's ear trying to be a silk purse. I hadn't been this dressed up since I couldn't remember. I know it's been a long, long time. I didn't look bad for a fifty something member of the over the hill gang. The only problem was that my pony tail looked out of place with the outfit. I took the holder off it and brushed my hair out. With the hat back on I thought it looked better but what the hell do I know.
Checking the clock, I figured I had time for at least one quick drink before I headed for the big city. Somehow I figured this was going to be very sobering experience so I might as well start with a little buzz.
Walking into the bar dressed this way was shocking to my friends to say the least. Levies and a tee shirt were normal, levies and a western shirt maybe, when there was a band but this was something no one around here had ever seen. I expected laughs and catcalls but not total silence.
By the time I reached the other end of the bar, that's what I had, everyone's attention. Mary Anne, the bartender just stood and stared with her mouth hanging slightly open.
"Can I have a Jack and water, in a tall glass please?" I asked. She continued to stare for another second before turning to get the glass and when she turned back, she went back to staring as she mixed the drink.
I looked around the room and then back at Mary Anne, "Can't a fella get dressed up without everyone making a big deal out of it? Come on folks, I'm still me under this get up."
Mary Anne grinned and said, "Damn, you sure are pretty when you get cleaned up. I'm going to have to pay more attention from now on."
This brought a chuckle if not a full laugh from most everyone in the room. Mary Anne had chased me for years but I had somehow avoided capture and planned on keeping it that way. Don't get me wrong; Mary Anne is a nice lady and quite good looking but she's way to bossy for my taste.
I moved down to the other end of the bar and found a stool. In the next thirty minutes, I think every woman in the place made a point to stop by and say something; this even included a few married ones. I thought maybe I needed to finish my drink and head out before a husband or boyfriend decided I was trying to cut in on their time.
Several times on the way to the opera house, I almost turned around and went home. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that my old truck was a little out of place to say the least. I parked between a new Mercedes and a fancy SUV that had never seen dirt in its life.
Getting out of the truck, I took a deep breath and headed toward the place, thinking I would at least give these folks a good laugh.
At the door a nice looking young lady checked my ticket and was even nice enough to give me directions to my seat. I found my seat with no problem; it was in the balcony, stage right. As I sat down I noted that I still had twenty minutes to show time and grinned as I wondered if I could get a bag of popcorn.
The place was filling up fast down below but there were only a few scattered groups up here and no one near me. As the lights dimmed there was still no sign of the ex wife, so I settled back to try and enjoy the show. Much to my surprise, it was in English.
About half way through the first act, someone sat down beside me. Glancing over to my left I came eye to eye with a stunning redhead. I nodded politely and returned my attention to the stage. Not my full attention mind you, as my mind replayed the image of the gorgeous woman next to me over and over in a loop. The subtle smell of her perfume wasn't helping matters in the least. Gradually my mind settled down and I got back into the story unfolding on stage.
There was a short intermission after the first act so they could change sets I guess. The lights came up about half way, so I took another glance over at the lady next to me. She was even more stunning with the lights on. If this was the ex wife, then my client was the biggest fool I'd ever met for letting her get away.
She had her red hair up in curls and very little makeup. With her skin and bone structure she didn't need it. A thin diamond choker set off her long neck. There was no problem figuring out what held up the little strapless black dress she wore. A part of my mind wondered what kept those puppies from jumping out though.
The dress ended just above her knees, which were crossed and I couldn't help but notice the high heel shoe on her right foot as she moved it back and forth. An obvious sign to me that her motor was running and there was a lot of energy stored up in that body.
She was one hot lady let me tell you. I tried to be as subtle as I could, looking her over and I thought I had gotten away with it, until she leaned over toward me and whispered, "Do you like what you see?"
I grinned for a second and replied, "Yes Ma'am, very, very much. You are one fine looking lady."
She chuckled and said, "Thank you, flattery will get you everywhere, cowboy."
Looking over at her, I grinned and asked, "Everywhere?"
She laughed and then covered her mouth and looked around. Looking back at me she said, "You're a bold one aren't you? I'd heard stories of the American cowboys but always considered them just that, tall tales."
I stared at her, as I let what she said sink in, she was obviously not from here, but I could detect no accent, so I asked, "And where did you hear these stories?"
Grinning she replied, "London, Paris, Rome. The usual places where people gossip and let little things slip."
"Well, I wouldn't know much about all those places as my horse can't swim to well," I shot back. She laughed again and looked around to see if anyone noticed.
When she looked back, I stuck out my hand and said, "My names Dan."
Taking my hand she asked, "Do you want the whole thing or just what my friends call me?"
Grinning I answered, "Both, and your phone number too, if I can find a pen."
A look of surprise crossed her face and then she laughed again. "You are quite cheeky, aren't you? You might be sorry you asked for the whole thing though. Carmen Elisabeth O'Malley O'Brien. Isn't that just a mouth full?"
I chuckled as a vision of my mouth full of her and vies versa flashed across my minds eye. I recognized the last part as the last name of my client. "Spanish, English, and Irish. That's quite a combination of names."
Pausing to grin, I reached inside my jacket and pulled out a pen. "Now, what do your friends call you and what's that phone number?" I held the pen above my left palm ready to write.
She looked at me for a long second then asked, "You're serious aren't you?" When I nodded she continued, "My friends call me Irish. I'm tempted to give you the number, but I think I'll wait and see how the rest of the evening goes."
Still grinning, I clicked the pen closed and slowly returned it to my pocket saying, "Dang, so close, yet so far. Maybe by the end of the evening, I may not need it."
She looked puzzled for a moment, but before she could ask anything, the lights dimmed for the second act. The second act was probably as good as the first, but I just couldn't get into it as thoughts of the young woman next to me kept making a better show in the back of my mind. After a few minutes, I had to shift in my seat to relieve some of the pressure that had built up in the front of my slacks from an expansion problem.
As I settled back down Carmen laid her hand on top of mine where it rested on the armrest. When she gave it a little squeeze, I looked over at her, to see her smiling. After a second, she looked back at the stage, taking the hint I did the same. Only by now I had lost the story line.
When the second act ended, I would have left if I had been by myself. Of course, if I was by myself, I wouldn't have the problems that I had. As the lights came up I looked over at Carmen and smiled. If she only knew some of the thoughts going through my mind, she would slug me and probably yell for the cops.
When Carmen said, "A penny for your thoughts." I broke up; I just plain lost it and laughed my ass off. She sat there looking at me as if I was crazy.
When I finally calmed down she asked, "What did I say that was so funny?"
Then it dawned on me that I had to explain my reaction somehow. After some quick mental gymnastics I settled on the truth, all she could do was really slap me and get mad. On the other hand, there was the possibility that she might be flattered by the whole thing.
With a mental shrug I said, "Just before you said that, I was thinking to myself, what you might do if you knew what thoughts I had been having about you. Needless to say, what you said struck me as hysterical."
She looked at me for a long moment and then asked, "What about me did you think was so funny?"
I looked at her for a second as I realized that she didn't have a clue as to what I had just said. Just as I was about to try to explain it to her, the light dawned in her eyes.
"Oh!" she said as her eyes went wider. "Oh my, you weren't thinking funny things were you?" She looked at me for a long moment and then before I could reply she said, "I take it your mind was being very explicit, sexually that is."
When I nodded, she said "Oh, my," and looked away.
I mentally shook my head, thinking I had really blown it but then again nothing ventured, nothing gained had always been my motto. I always seemed to find my mouth to be the best place to park my foot.
When she glanced back at me, I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you."
She looked at me for a long time and then said, "I have a problem in that I'm not sure whether to be offended or intrigued." When I didn't say anything she went on, "I was flirting with you before, so I can't say it was all your fault. I've just never met anyone who admitted to such things in my presents. I guess I was just taken aback by your straight forwardness. I shouldn't have been, after all the stories about you cowboys I've heard."
I had to chuckle at that, I also had a confession to make. "I'm not really a cowboy, I work in the oil field and I'm from Texas so I dress this way. I'm just an old country boy visiting the big city."
She looked at me for a second and then smiled. "There's nothing wrong with oil field work. I have two brothers that work on platforms in the North Sea. There's not a rowdier bunch around, or a better bunch of men to know. They are the ones who told me most of the stories about the men from Texas. When I married my husband that's what I thought I was getting. Little did I know he was more civilized than any English gentleman I had ever met." She ended with a laugh.
When the lights started to dim for the third act she said quickly, "Before I have time to think about this, lets get out of here and go somewhere fun."
I was on my feet in a flash and held out my hand to her. With a big grin on my face, I said, "Sounds like a plan to me."
In the parking lot, she hesitated for a second as I opened the door to my old truck. Luckily I had cleaned it out a few days before or I think she would have changed her mind. The old truck is kind of ragged but it's mechanically sound and not exactly stock. She had a forced smile on her face as I got in, which turned into a grin when I fired up the motor. I let it warm up for a minute, listening to its rumble and feeling the vibrations even in the seat.
I backed out and let it idle across the parking lot.
Cocking her head to one side, she said, "My oldest brother has a racing car that doesn't sound as good as this old thing."
I chuckled and replied, "It's only old on the outside, underneath is what counts and I've got a lot of time invested in making this thing run. The motor and transmission are out of an early model Corvette."
"Why didn't you put it in a newer vehicle?" She asked as she turned in the seat to face me, bringing her left knee up onto the seat. The short skirt had ridden up to mid thigh and I can tell you she had a pair of long beautiful legs.
As I pulled out onto the street and applied some power, the truck jumped forward. I caught second gear and it jumped again. I eased it into third and backed off as I approached the red light. The pipes rumbled for a second as it slowed.
The light changed and I went on at the speed limit. I glanced at her to see a big grin on her face. I smiled and answered her question as best I could. "Well, I had this truck when I found the motor in a junk yard and decided to rebuild it. A little later the motor died in this thing, so I stuffed the rebuilt one in." I chuckled for a second and said. "I guess it just never crossed my mind to put it in something better or newer. I had a truck so I used what I had."
I stopped at the next red light and asked her with a big grin on my face, "What kind of fun do you want to have?"
She chuckled and shook her head. "Slow down cowboy, what would you normally be doing if you hadn't come to the opera? By the way, what were you doing there? It doesn't seem to be your cup of tea, if you'll pardon my saying so."
I laughed as I made a left turn and headed toward the freeway. "You've got that right, a client of mine gave me the ticket as he was going to be out of town."
She looked at me hard for a second and then asked, "That wouldn't be Jimmy O'Brien by any chance would it?"
Oh shit, I thought to myself, I'm getting old. That's twice tonight that I've let cats out the bag. I decided to brave it out saying, "Well, yes it was, how did you know? Oh, wait a minute; your last name is O'Brien. Holy shit, don't tell me I'm running around with the wife of a client. I didn't even know Jimmy was married."
She laughed and replied, "Ex wife, thank you and very few people did know we were married until after the divorce. Like I said earlier, he wasn't nearly the man I thought he was."
I glanced at her as I accelerated up onto the freeway. The grin was back on her face as I ran up through the gears to seventy miles per hour by the end of the on ramp. Traffic was light so I held it there. I glanced over at her again and said, "I don't know him that well, I do some computer work for him. He does seem to be a pretty laid back kind of guy." Glancing her way again I grinned and finished, "And not to smart, if he let a great looking woman like you get away."
She chuckled and said, "There you go with that flattery again."
Keeping my eyes on the road, I let a big grin cross my face again. This caused her to chuckle. After a few minutes silence she asked, "Where are we going? Are you taking me to your usual place? The place you go most every Saturday night."
I laughed at that and replied, "I don't think so. You'd look like a diamond in a coal bin in that place and I'd have to kill about ten guys to keep your honor safe. Those old boys up where I live haven't ever seen anyone like you, especially dressed in that outfit." I paused for a moment and then said, "Of course about half the men there, would die of heart attacks just from looking at you and half the women would die of jealousy. No, I don't think they're ready for you and vise versa."
Laughing she said, "You might be surprised. I've hung around some rough pubs with my brothers, years ago. I think I could handle myself."
Glancing at her, I replied, "I didn't ever doubt that you couldn't. It's the locals around where I live that I'm worried about." She laughed and slowly shook her head.
"There's this small bar north of town that I occasionally visit on the way back home from the city. It has a band on Saturday nights and it's a fairly nice place as dancehalls go."
About ten miles farther on I got off the freeway and circled back to the Wagon Wheel. As I pulled into the parking lot I wondered if this was really a good idea. Too late now, I told myself.
I paid our way in at the door and escorted Carmen across the room to an empty table near the back. The place was packed; I hadn't ever been in here on Saturday night and never this late any night. I was surprised at the number of people. I only knew one of the bartenders and that was only by sight.
Our waitress came over to get our drink order and I ordered my usual Jack and water. Carmen looked at me a second and said, "I usually drink wine or occasionally a beer but I don't have any idea what I should order."
After a little discussion and several questions to the waitress, she settled on a wine cooler. The band was on break so we talked ourselves through several drinks by the time they returned to the bandstand. They kicked it off with a waltz, so I asked Carmen to dance.
I think I surprised her. For a big guy, I'm fairly light on my feet. The next song was a two step and when I asked her to dance again she said she didn't know how, so I told her I'd teach her. After several bad starts, she took off the heels and things progressed better.
The last dance of the set was a slow belt buckle polishing number. This was the first chance I'd really had to hold her close and I must say she was a nice warm arm full. I think the wine coolers were a little stronger than what she was used to because she snuggled up close with her arm inside my coat and her head against my shoulder.
As we slowly moved across the floor, her body was pressed tighter and tighter to mine. By the end of the dance we were just barely moving, just standing in one spot, and swaying, hugging each other tightly. When the music ended we stayed that way for nearly a minute before we realized the dance was over. We both grinned at each other as we separated and headed back for the table.
As the band took their last break, she leaned over and whispered, "I think I'm getting drunk."