Friday, October 16, 2009

Interlude [i]

"I saw her today at the reception, a glass of wine in her hand. I knew she was gonna meet her connection, at her feet was a footloose man."--The Rolling Stones

She stood against the bar, running her finger on the brim of her glass, eyeing herself in the mirror behind the bottles. The dress was a black one, ending right above her knee so I could chase her calves down to the matching black shoes that almost disappeared against the black oak floorboards.

Her hair was loose, but in the sexy way only true brunettes can accomplish, framing her dark eyes and her pink lips and waiting until under her jaw line to start the inner march over the breasts. Her waist begged for me to wrap my hand around and pull her toward me, and I knew that I could do it, hell, had done it, long long ago. Memory flitted through my mind like dropped polaroids: her on the balcony looking back over her shoulder bathed in sunlight, her smoking a cigarette in the tub and the look of anguish when she dropped it, her crying as I pulled out of the driveway.

She was not there for me. Henry and Laura were finally taking the plunge, and they had invited the two of us before they knew that we weren't us anymore. She had gotten the letter, as she still lived at the house, and she had politely called me and told me that she didn't have to go. After all, they were my friends. Of course I insisted, because what else could I do? I could be the bastard and hurt her more than I already had, or I could be a man and fess up that everything I had done was wrong and that she was still important to me and that now that I had my own house and my own sheets and my own ashtrays I didn't sleep anymore and I smoked too much.

Instead I landed somewhere in between and told her she was invited too and that it would be foolish to refuse free food and drinks from friends.

I didn't realize she would bring a date. He seemed like a friendly guy, too much hair on top, like he was building a tower that smelled of Brylcreem. He smiled at me with lots of teeth when we met, crushing my hand when he shook it to mark his territory. "I'd like to punch you in the face just to show the little lady that I like her bunches," is what his beady eyes told me as he smiled and introduced himself. His name is Hank. I nearly laughed and sprayed white russian all over his fancy car-salesman tie. Hank. Like a cartoon character.

I had come alone.

I roamed the reception after the deed was done and while most folks were still choking down their dinners and before the dancing started. The bartender didn't seem to mind, I apparently tipped him well enough to actually give me a little alcohol now and again. Eventually I found the Bride and Groom yucking it up and I made a few of the appropriate jokes. She asked me how I was doing, and he told me he was sorry, he didn't know she would bring someone. Her eyes were sad for me, his the traditional "I'd feel for you if I hadn't just gotten married" look I'm sure everyone gets after time. I felt awkward, after all, it was their day, not my pity party, so I told them I was fine, that I didn't mind that someone great who's life I had crushed like an insect was here and the only thing stopping me from getting on my knees and begging for forgiveness was a giant lunkhead of fat Elvis proportions who thought bone-crushing handshakes were the epitome of success with the ladies. I told them I was fine and carried on.

The dancing started, and I roamed over to the bar, and I saw her. I saw her there, waiting for someone else, and I felt my heart ache the slow, hurting ache of the dead. Her man was tearing the carpet up with a nameless blonde from the Groom's side, and it did look like they were enjoying each others company.

As I watched, she bought another glass of wine and stared at it for a long time, still rubbing her finger on the brim, waiting for someone who wasn't me.

I held my breath, and went anyway.

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