There she was. Sitting at the crook of the bar with her hair looking the best she could get it. But you could see the flyaways in the sugary bar light. She was the only one left. It was closing time and Pedro was talking about his dog again. A home run on the TV screen and Pedro ties this into his fucking bulldog catching a baseball in—
Who the fuck cares where?
Except that baseball I’m watching on the TV has cleared the center-field fence. It’s sailing off into the Meadowlands on the wings of the flared trouble lights.
And it makes me wonder a little where in this stinking New Jersey night it might end up.
I turn in her direction and she’s still hanging onto her drink, but like it’s a microphone and she’s so drunk she’s forgotten the words. There’s a faint smile on her face, a broken hinge of a smile that makes me think she must have just gotten dumped. Or fired. I tell Pedro to send her over another of whatever she’s drinking.
Pedro’s giving a beer glass some attention with a rag. Looking at me like I better watch myself. Like the bathrooms are for shitting and pissing and puking but not for drunk fucking.
I like Pedro but what I’d tell Pedro, if he ever decided to formulate his opinions aloud, is the reason he’s behind the bar worrying a beer glass and I’m sitting here ordering a professional woman lost in her cups a drink is…Well, because I came here in a BMW 5 Series worth more than a year of Pedro’s mortgage. I’d tell him I’m handsome—not a pockmarked Hispanic half-breed with a ball-catching mutt. That’s right, Pedro. And I’ve got a wife you could put up on a shelf. A tennis-playing, sapling-planting, peanut-brittle-baking, church-going daughter of a Wall Street broker that lets me in the backdoor because she likes it.
Pedro’s old lady would know all about that. Poor old Pedro still thinks she ruptured a vein lifting beer. Lifting beer in Pedro’s dirty toilet with my cock in her ass while Pedro was out doing court duty is how I remember it.
But this girl. I look over and she smiles back. It’s always a good idea to acknowledge a free drink. I tip my Balvenie 18 at her. I finish it. I love this stuff.
I move over to the stool next to hers. We’re the only ones left so it’s a fairly obvious gesture. I’m already feeling weary, which I don’t like at all. There are times when they fight back and you’ve got to be all there.
But she does just what she’s supposed to. Asks the questions she’s supposed to. Moves her eyes like she’s supposed to. Twists her hair, looks down at her bare arms like she’s supposed to. It’s chilly in Pedro’s and I don’t see a jacket anywhere. I offer her mine, a silk-shot beauty.
I check the clock next to the TV.
Ten to midnight.
Another round for both of us.
Last one, says Pedro.
Fuck you, Pedro.
I touch her lightly on the arm. Finish my drink. See that she finishes hers. I ask her if she wants to play the machines.
My speech is on the verge of collapse. I nudge her off her stool. We walk in lockstep, hip against hip. I wrap an arm around her waist. She leaves it there.
When we get to the machines and keep walking towards the bathrooms, I can feel Pedro’s eyes boring into the back of my head. One more fuck for Mikey. I like this feeling. I tighten my grip.
I drag her off into the women’s room and push her hard up against the cement wall. Her kisses are sweet, desperate, so I don’t notice the blood pouring from my neck right away. Another few seconds and it’s obvious. My neck is flapping like a basking whale.
She wipes the shiv off on my shirttails and it disappears in her purse. She pushes me onto the linoleum floor. Turns me over onto my back. She lifts her leg over me like a dog over a fire hydrant, and I can’t get any words to come out, only blood. A thin shape forms in my peripheral vision.
Pedro’s brought my jacket. He’s going through my wallet. He slips out my cash and starts to give her half.
He bends over, spits in my face and gives her all of it.