i_17bingo: (Default)
2013-01-07 07:59 pm
Entry tags:

Visiting Hours

previously...


It was almost the afternoon, and my neighbor and I found ourselves sitting in a café just around the corner from our apartment building. Settling down with our post-coital coffees, I noted that they were both black with one sugar. "How's work?" I asked by way of small talk.

"You know: making copies, distributing copies, filing copies, shredding copies, reprinting copies, and copying them again. Pushing a boulder up a hill."

"Wow," I said, "they make you push boulders up hills?"

She wasn't sure if I was kidding. "How about your work?"

"Boring," I replied. "Endless fluff pieces."

"You got thrown in jail last night for writing a fluff piece?" she asked.

"That was something different," I replied. "We call it 'ninja journalism.'"

"We?"

"My paper," I said. "Well, my editor and me." I thought about it. "Okay, just me."

She shook her head with a smile.

"It's my job," I explained, "to get to celebrities who are notoriously tight-lipped. To do that, I have to sneak past or talk my way through armies of publicists, bodyguards, and agents. Ever since I was a kid, I've have a long history of breaking and entering and running cons, so that makes me a natural."

"So you're paparazzi."

"Not quite. The targets..."

"You're not really a ninja, you know," she told me.

"They know I'm a journalist. It's just a matter of getting alone with them and making them like me. To do that, you need to be able to profile them on the spot and become exactly the kind of person they feel comfortable opening up to. Also, you have to be prepared to do a lot of drugs and alcohol."

"Sounds lonely," she said.

How did she know that? Most people at this point expressed only envy. "It's--"

My phone went off, changing the subject. I dug it out, looked at the caller ID, and groaned, "I have to take this." Immediately it began berating me.

As it did, Emma squirmed in her chair. The nails on one of her hands traced a pattern on the tabletop in front of her, and the rest of her fingers stroked her coffee cup.

My mouth went dry. I would much rather have been that cup, that tabletop, or that chair right now, instead of listening to my phone rant. "I know," I sighed, letting it continue for another minute.

Emma's fingers drifted over and began stroking mine.

When the phone went silent, I realized I'd better rejoin the conversation. "I know, I've been busy." It asked me a question. "No!" I replied. "Okay, maybe a little bit." I added, "Okay, maybe a lot."

It lectured me some more while Emma quietly lifted my hand to her face and began sucking on my pinkie.

The phone chose at that moment to reveal something that hadn't occurred to me, and I was forced to liberate myself from her grasp. "Seriously?" I buried my face in my now free hand. "Oh my god, I am so sorry." The phone laid on a thick guilt trip.

Emma watched me curiously.

"I know," I sighed, "I should have called." Another, shorter guilt trip followed.

She started to get bored again.

"I said I was sorry." The next guilt trip was more of a guilt sprint, but it still stung.

Emma began to play with her cinnamon-colored hair.

I so wished I could just hang up and help her, but instead, I had to ask my phone, "What are you doing later?" It told me. "Why don't we go have a drink?" It asked me where. "Let's go to Byrne's. They have that classy sparkling water you like, right? See you in an hour?"

Sighing, I hung up and said to Emma, "Sorry. That was my friend, Sean. I haven't talked to him in over a month. I was supposed to go with him to a cocktail party where I could meet Maggie Gross."

"Who the hell is Maggie Gross?" she asked.

"She owns and runs a restaurant that's a hotspot for celebrities."

"Your 'ninja targets,'" she said with air quotes.

"Most of the reason they love the place is because she keeps the press at bay." I added, "Unless she really likes the reporter."

"And what makes you think she'll like you?"

"Come on, Em..."

"My name's not Em."

"Everybody likes me."

"I don't like you."

"That's probably because I keep calling you Em."

She shrugged.

"So I'd once mentioned in passing to him that I would give my right arm to meet Maggie Gross, and he got me on an invite list to her latest party."

"And you blew him off."

"My cousin died," I whined. "And I got distracted."

"And you haven't called him."

"Distracted," I reminded her.

"You really are an asshole." She meant it.

"Shtupping you is a full-time job."

"I know, right?" She grinned. "I've got a half-finished comic sitting on my dining room table."

"I know we're pretty voracious," I said, "but you seriously can't come up with ten minutes to read one comic book?"

At first she seemed pissed, but after a moment of thought, she softened a bit. "Not read," she told me; "draw."

"You draw comics?"

"You don't think I moved to New York to be a temp, do you?"

"There's a lot about you I don't know," I admitted, "like your full name."

"You don't know that, do you?"

"Well?"

"Dayton," she told me. "Yours?"

"Maximillian Alejandro Fuentes."

"My middle name is Diane."

"I don't know your age, either," I continued.

"You should know better than to ask that."

"Based on your response," I said, "I'm guessing thirty-eight."

"Asshole."

"Twenty-four," I guessed honestly.

"Now you're just trying to fix the damage you just caused."

"No," I said, "there's no way you're older than me."

"You're right, then, because I'm thirty-one."

"How old do you think I am?"

"Thirty-five," she replied.

"Twenty-seven."

"That's impossible!"

I shrugged.

"That makes me a cradle robber," she giggled. "I am so hot!"



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2013-01-02 03:25 pm
Entry tags:

Sins of Omission

previously...


I've been incarcerated a lot over the past thirteen years, so you'd think I'd get more comfortable with the idea of sleeping in jail. I never did, though. And so, this morning, thoughts of my pillow dragged my lifeless body across the length of Manhattan and up the stairs to my apartment.

The instant I shuffled into my room, however, my neighbor's voice appeared from the fire escape. "Where have you been? I've been worried sick!"

I replied, "Have you been sitting outside my window all night?" I then found myself asking a more important question: "You've been worried sick about me?"

"I would have called," she said, "but I don't have your number."

It had been some time since anyone had missed me. The sensation doused me both with confusion and excitement.

"I had another one of those days at work," she continued. "I thought we could discuss it."

I groaned, "I'm too wiped out for that right now."

"How about you just sit back and let me do all the talking?"

I shook my head. "Not today, Em. I just spent a night in a holding cell, and I need sleep."

She bit her lip. "You really got arrested?"

I didn't reply as I pulled off my boots.

She crawled inside, slipped behind me, and began unbuttoning my shirt. "You going to jail is like an aphrodisiac to me."

When her fingers loosened my belt and slipped my pants down my thighs, I said, "You doing that is like an aphrodisiac to me."

"That's something else we have in common," she whispered.

A half-hour later, I stumbled out of my room toward the kitchen for an emergency infusion of protein and simple carbohydrates. I had so little energy that my roommate Cameron's sudden ambush didn't really faze me.

"Do you talk to Emma at all?" he asked.

"Why do you ask?" I replied cautiously.

"She has a new boyfriend, but she won't bring him around."

As far as I knew, nothing in my demeanor betrayed me, but I needed to play it cool. "What makes you think she has a boyfriend?"

"I think you of all people should know the answer to that."

Now I was starting to worry. "Should I?"

"All of that carrying on all the time," he told me, "it keeps Mitchell and I awake all night, and we're on the other side of the apartment. You're, like, right there."

"You mean in the bedroom right next to hers," I clarified, "in this apartment."

He snorted. "It's not like you're in the same room as her when she's making all that noise."

"Because that would be crazy."

"I mean, just now, it sounded like it was coming from your room."

"Crazy."

He leaned in close and whispered, "Between you and me, she's never been this... vocal before. Whoever this guy is, he's really pushing her buttons. I have to meet him."

I was simultaneously honored and threatened by this line of questioning. "I'll bet you a dollar," I told him, "that when you finally meet this guy, you will not believe he's the one doing that to her." This is because the only reason I got this apartment is because I improbably convinced Cameron and his boyfriend I was as homosexual as they were--improbable because I have a lot of sex with a lot of women.

"It's always the quiet ones," he replied.

"Headphones," I said.

"Excuse me?"

"Headphones," I repeated. "Noise-canceling headphones." That sounded plausible.

He grinned. "Those must be amazing headphones."

"They're pretty high tech and shit."

"What brand?"

"Of headphones?"

He nodded.

"I..." Oh, shit. "I. Don't. Know. Because... they were a gift. And I never looked at the brand. Of the high-tech. Headphones."

"Can I take a look?"

"Sure," I replied. "I'll go get them." Oh, shit. Despite the sleep-deprivation and the numbing afterglow, I had to think fast. "Wait. Is that my phone?"

"I didn't hear anything."

"It's on vibrate." I put my cell to my ear and nodded my head, thinking of an excuse to get out of the apartment to find and purchase a pair of high-tech, noise-cancelling headphones. "Celebrity emergency," I told Cameron before fleeing to my room. "Got to go."

I slipped into my room and shook a very naked Emma awake. "Cameron's coming!"

"What?" she whispered.

"I need to pretend to leave, and you need to go home."

She groaned, "I guess this is why we always use my bed." She threw on her jeans and one of my T-shirts, wadded up the rest of her clothes, and escaped.

I tried to stroll nonchalantly to the door, but I couldn't escape Cameron's voice calling after me, "Max!"

I froze.

"I just have to tell you," he said, "that you are, by far, the strangest cat I've ever met. And I'm dating Mitchell."

"Thanks," I replied, "I put a lot of work into it."

He laughed, "Go take care of that thing at work."

By the time I'd locked the deadbolt behind me and theatrically stomped down a flight of stairs, Cameron had lost all interest in me. I waited a extra minute until I was extra sure the coast was clear before tiptoeing back to knock gently on Emma's door. Giggling, she beckoned me inside.

"You got to admit, dude," she said, "this is a little fun."

I shrugged and smiled. I had to admit it that it was.

"Wait right here," she told me and disappeared into her room.

Unbuttoning my shirt, I asked, "Shall we go another round?"

"Dude," she shouted, "are you fucking insane?"

I buttoned back up with a sigh.

She emerged wearing clothes that could be seen in public. "Let's get a cup of coffee. I'm buying."



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-12-12 07:56 pm
Entry tags:

Just One Look

previously...


Hours passed while I stood on my fire escape, marinating in guilt. I made a fist and almost rapped on my neighbor's window before stopping myself. What the hell did I think was I doing? I was having a crisis, and this is how I chose to handle it? With mindless sensual gratification? I couldn't even begin to describe how utterly selfish I felt at that moment.

But what was more selfish than sex? The only point of it--if you're doing it right--is to feel physically good. I was the kind of guy who took great pride in the lengths I went to please my partner, but I'd always known that I performed that way because I got off on getting her off.

Did this mean I thought of her as a sex toy? Did she only think of me as a sex toy?

Emma and I didn't have much of a relationship, but what we did have was raw, carnal honesty.

I knocked.

"Coming!" she yelled. When she opened the window and saw me, her expression shifted from hope to anticipation to hunger and finally to confusion.

"Dude," she said, "you look like someone pissed on your head."

"Excuse me?"

"Not literally." She asked, "What's wrong?"

"I don't feel sad at all and I should and I don't know what to do?"

She sighed, and the look on her face shifted to disappointment. "Why don't you come inside and tell me all about it."

I followed her into her kitchen, which I hadn't really studied before. Last time I was here, I only paid attention to obstacles and solid surfaces I could use for leverage. Now that I wasn't drunk on lust, I was surprised that I hadn't injured myself.

"Need a beer?" she asked.

I shook my head.

"Well, I do. Have a seat."

I turned to the living room, noted a futon, and collapsed onto it.

She entered the room, took a long swig out of the bottle, and curled up on the far end. "So," she said, "what's up, dude."

"Banjo was one of my best buddies but he's gone now and now he's really gone, and I don't miss him. I mean, I did miss him, but not anymore."

"Back up," she demanded. "You were best friends with a banjo?"

I pulled myself to my feet. "This was a mistake," I muttered. "I'm sorry."

With a sigh, she gestured me back to her futon. "You're here, I'm awake, my beer's open, so you might as well explain yourself."

"Seriously?"

"Just try to keep it simple. It's fucking late."

"Banjo's my cousin."

"You have a cousin named Banjo," she replied. "Really."

"Benjamin," I sighed. "Benjamin Joshua. We called him Banjo because whatever."

"And he's gone." She scrunched up her face, trying to concentrate on my verbal diarrhea from a few minutes ago. "Twice."

"He went to prison," I told her. "And he just died there."

"Oh."

"He went native," I said. "Kicked some asses. Knifed a guy. I didn't recognize him the last time I saw him. Hell, I didn't even like him." I shrugged. "Apparently I wasn't the only one. Somebody stabbed him."

"You think it was because his name was Banjo?"

"What?" I yelped. "Why would you say that?"

"I don't know!" To her credit, she really did look like she regretted saying that.

Still: "You are such an asshole, you know that?"

"Well, I'm sorry," she replied, "but I'm no good at this kind of thing."

"What are you good at?"

"Take off your pants, and I'll show you."

I did, and she did.

Eight days later, I was sitting in bed, contemplating something or other, when a tap came from my window.

"Dude," Emma whispered, "are you there?"

I opened the blinds.

She frowned, apparently in shock. "I think I just lost my job."

I opened my mouth to reply, but had nothing.

"No," she continued, "I don't think I lost my job. I did lose my job. What the fuck?"

"You want to have this conversation on your futon?" I asked her.

In a haze, she led me into her apartment, her words spilling out uneasily. "My current gig was supposed to last until Labor Day, but they just canceled the contract."

I sat her down headed to the kitchen.

"And the temp agency can't promise me anything yet. I don't know what to do," she continued.

"Do you need me to make suggestions," I asked, rooting through her refrigerator for beer and finding only empty cardboard boxes that were supposed to contain beer, "or do you just want me to tell you it's going to be okay?"

"Wait until I'm finished, then tell me it's okay."

I gave up and joined her in the living room. "Go on."

"If I don't find work before July, then I don't know how I'm going to get by. I've been living off of credit cards for so long. I'm so scared." She waited a few moments before adding, "You can tell me it's going to be okay now, dude."

I reached over and massaged the inside of her thigh. "It's going to be okay now, dude."

She moaned, "Thank you."

Five days later, she invited me into her apartment to tell me, "The A train broke down two times last week! Twice! I was late to work! Twice!"

"I thought you were unemployed."

"I got a new one," she replied. "And it's in Battery Park, as far as possible from this apartment."

"At least it's not Ozone park."

"Twice!" she reminded me.

"Bed or futon?"

"Either."

Three days later, she opened her window.

"I got arrested again," I told her.

"I can never tell when you're kidding," she replied.

"Not kidding." I asked her, "Have you ever been arrested?"

She shook her head.

"Well, if you're going to sympathize," I said, "you should probably experience it for yourself." With that, I produced a pair of recreational handcuffs.

Three days later, she peeked into my bedroom. "All the copiers at work ran out of toner at the same time."

"I'll be right out," I said.

Two days later, I crawled through her window. "I had to interview Martin Hughes."

"The Martin Hughes?"

I nodded.

She shuddered. "Strip," she demanded

Two days later, she told me, "I maxed out one of my cards.

The next day, I told her, "My editor chewed my head off."

The day after that, she told me, "The heel of my favorite boot broke off."

The day after that, I told her, "My photographer won't quit snapping her gum."

The next afternoon, she said, "I got a paper cut."

That evening, I said, "My knuckles hurt from knocking on your window."

After that, we just stopped with the excuses.



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-08-24 09:40 am
Entry tags:

A Date That Will Live in Infamy, Part Two

previously...


Ten years ago, when Heather, my first kiss, my first sexual encounter, and my first love, became my first devastating heartbreak, I went on a dating spree, which really hasn't come to an end. With that kind of quantity, it only stands to reason that not all of these dates were successful.

But none of them went as poorly as this one. The weird part was that we'd already engaged, repeatedly and with vigor, in third-date-style activities, if you know what I mean.

So what happened to that wild animal I'd spent most of last night tasting and feeling? Where were the throaty giggles and that unbelievably focused, blue-eyed stare? Where was that woman?

And then I saw her. She was strutting out of the restroom in that red turtleneck I should have been yanking off of her torso; that miniskirt that needed to be pushed up to her waist; those gray-stocking-covered legs that belonged wrapped around me; and those fingernails running through those cinnamon-colored curls, both of which would be better served tickling my naked chest. There was that crooked smile that melted me, and it was flirting with some bridge-and-tunnel doofus at the bar. It was then, as she left him and headed back toward me, all enthusiasm fleeing her body, that I had my idea.

But first thing's first: "Give it," I demanded.

"Give what?"

"His card."

She handed it over, and I tore it to pieces while she growled.

"Fair's fair,” I said, referring to the way she'd disposed of the phone number the cute waitress had given me earlier. Okay, so I had rescued it, but it was the spirit of the thing, right?

She pouted. "You know, this is such a disaster, anyway. I don't see why you had to go and make it worse."

"Em, I need you to listen to me very carefully."

"Don't call me Em."

"I think it's safe to say that we have no business dating each other."

She folded her arms.

"And I'm betting that you're interested in being with someone you actually like, but dating is not particularly easy, especially in this town; the reason being that you're trying to be sexy when you're not actually sure you are."

"Speak for yourself."

"Don't jerk me around, Em."

"My name's not Em,"she snapped.

"And about the only time you're that positive you're sexy is when you've just had sex."

"Oh, come on!"

"I told you not to jerk me around, Em."

"My name is Emma."

"I was watching you talk to that jackhole over there, and you were hot."

"Too little, too late, dude," she told me.

"Yeah?" I told her right back. "Then how did you get that guy's number after ten seconds? And how did I get cute little Dakota's attention just now without even trying? It's because, at this particular moment in time, we both knew that we drove someone so crazy that, less than eighteen hours ago, they ripped our clothes off."

"Keep talking," she breathed.

"The only thing you and I have in common is that we enjoy fucking each other's brains out."

She smiled a little. "All right, I'll give you that."

"There are just some days when you really need to get laid, and handling it yourself just isn't going to cut it. Now, I'm not saying that we become one another's sex toy..."

"Dude," she told me, "that's exactly what you're saying."

"I guess it is."

She took a long look at the doofus at the bar. "I was hot, wasn't I?"

"We made it this far without talking."

There was that crooked smile again. "For a condescending asshole, you make a lot of sense."

"For a childish, superficial nerd, you have great taste in sex partners," I replied.

Emma threw enough cash to cover a half-bottle of wine onto the coffee table in front of us. "I'm going to talk to the jackhole."

I grabbed her arm, and a current shot through me, telling me I needed to find a nearby solid surface right away and bend her over it.

She gasped, leading me to surmise that she needed to find the same solid surface.

I noticed that I'd been holding my breath for quite a while, and so I let it out.

She yanked her arm away from me and swallowed a lungful of air. "What?"

"What what?"

"Why did you grab my arm?"

"Like this?" I reached out, because, right now, my body craved that current with more urgency than the most powerful of nicotine fits.

She dodged me and whispered, "The deal."

"I'm just grabbing your arm."

"Dude."

I blinked the lust out of my eyes. "Right."

"Later, dude," she said and strolled away toward the bar.

I called after her, "What about the deal?"

"The deal was that you and I don't sleep together tonight," she said. "We said nothing about other people."

"Yeah, we did."

"Our own beds, remember?"

She growled. "Promise me, then, that you're not coming back for that little girl with the corkscrew."

The number I’d planned to call later burned secretly in my pocket. "I promise you that I will not return to this bar to pick up Dakota." I wasn't being totally dishonest.

She eyed me with little to no trust, which was a perfectly legitimate reaction to me. "Let's go, then."

Our cab ride was short and quiet, but excruciating, since we were overly conscious of the space between us. The merest touch would probably lead to the deal being broken, and we couldn't have that--though I wasn't sure why anymore.

When we finished climbing up four stories to our respective doors, she beckoned me with a sexy finger.

I drifted over cautiously. "Yeah?"

She wrapped her arms around me and stared deep into my eyes.

"Hey, now," I said.

"Shush," she replied.

My mouth went dry, and all the warmth in my hands and brain headed straight below my belt. Her hands caressed my back, sliding lower and lower, over my waist, and into my back pockets.

"Oh," I said, resigned to the obvious.

Behind me, I heard her fingers tearing the waitress's number to confetti.

She leaned closer to my ear and whispered, "Fair's fair." Her hair left burning trails across my cheek as she withdrew her head, her arms still around me. When I whimpered, she just gave me that same smug look she'd used last night to seduce me.

Since I was here anyway, I kissed her hard and slammed her against the nearest wall. She moaned, and her fingers stayed in my pockets and dug in. My hands gripped her face, until one crept down her neck, past her collarbone, and found its way to her breast.

That's when we both snapped out of it and pushed each other away.

"Deal," she panted.

I gulped. "Right. Deal."

She struggled to fish her keys out of her purse and dropped them to the floor. The sight of her bending over to pick them up anchored me there. She caught me looking, and she too froze.

"Deal," I said.

"Deal," she agreed.

I unlocked my door and forced myself inside. From there, I charged straight for the mattress on my floor and masturbated furiously.

From what I could hear on the other side of the wall, she was doing the exact same thing.



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-08-23 11:09 am
Entry tags:

A Date That Will Live in Infamy, Part One

previously...


"I've never actually been to a wine bar before," Emma told me as we sat down on a pair of comfortable easy chairs.

"Neither have I," I admitted. "I thought this would be a nice place where we could relax and not have to be in a bar."

"Oh, no," she insisted, "I didn't think it was a bad idea."

"I didn't think you thought that."

Even though she tried to keep it to herself, I could hear her grunt. This was going to be a long night.

Ever since my last girlfriend dumped me, my neighbor Emma was one of the only two women in my life with whom I've had any sort of relationship. Both simultaneously aroused and frustrated the hell out of me, but I could deal with my coworker, Gretchen, pretty easily; I just tuned out her prattle and fantasized about having conversation-free sex with her while in the privacy of my own home. Emma, on the other hand, was more persistent. For starters, she called me dude, which is not my name. In addition, she seemed to delight in invading the sanctity of my apartment building and fire escape. Also, we can't seem to stop fucking each other.

In retrospect, we should have just left well enough alone.

"So," I said.

"So," she replied.

A minute passed.

A cute waitress showed up at the table with a bright smile and a tray under her arm. "What can I get for you today?"

I smirked at her. "Hi, I'm Max."

Her smile went from being commercial to intrigued, and the pitch of her voice lowered just a little. "Dakota," she replied.

"North or South?"

"East."

"Nice." I asked her, "What do you recommend?"

"Red or white?"

I shrugged at Emma.

She replied, "Whatever you want."

"I'll put it to Dakota, then."

"Casual or serious?" she asked.

"Casual or serious what?" I clarified.

"Your date."

Emma and I glanced at each other. She said, "We're not on a date."

After I took a moment to frown, I returned my attention to the lovely Dakota. "Casual acquaintances."

"I'll be back with a shiraz," she replied.

Turning to Emma, I said, "I thought you wanted a date."

"Well," she told me, "I've been thinking about that. If we were serious about getting to know each other, then we absolutely, positively cannot have sex tonight."

"Just with each other, right?"

She glared over at Dakota. "What do you think?"

"Fine," I admitted. "That does make sense."

She leaned forward and extended her hand. "Swear?"

I peered longingly at Dakota before shaking Emma's hand. "I swear that, no matter what happens tonight, that our clothes will stay on, and we will sleep in our own beds."

We both sat back.

"So," she said.

"So," I replied.

A minute passed.

Dakota returned with a bottle of wine, which she corked and poured with professional grace, all the while making eye contact with me. When she finished, she asked, "Can I get you anything else?"

"I'm sure I'll think of something," I replied. "How about I call you?"

She scribbled in her little server's notebook, tore out that page, and handed it to me. I didn't even need to look to know what was on it, so I folded it up and dropped it in my shirt pocket.

She winked at me and sashayed away.

Emma reached into my pocket, removed the paper, wadded it up, and dropped it on the floor. "Just because we're not on a date that doesn't mean you get to pick up girls."

I sighed.

"So," I said.

"So," she replied.

A minute passed.

"I don't know where to start," she told me.

I gulped down some wine, and she played with her fingernails.

"Um," I said, "So what's your favorite movie?" Yes, I was getting desperate.

"Derelict," she replied.

I guffawed. "Really?"

She recoiled. "Yeah," she said. "It's based on one of my favorite comics, and it's got some really thoughtful ideas about patriotism and loyalty, all wrapped up in people getting kicked in the head."

"Oh, my god, you're serious."

"I didn't say it was the best movie." She shrank a little in her seat. "I just said it was my favorite."

"The dialogue," I moaned, "the explosions; I swear that thing was written by a thirteen-year-old boy."

"So you've seen it?"

"Tragically."

"Why would you do that then if you hated it so much?"

"I had to watch a screener to prep for an interview with Reese Kensington."

Her eyes widened in admiration. "You've met Reese Kensington?"

With a shrug, I said, "I drank him under the table."

"Why would you do that?"

"I bet him an exclusive that he couldn't keep up with me."

"What could you, of all people, possibly have given him if you lost?"

"I didn't lose."

She rolled her eyes. "So what's your favorite movie, Mr. Critic?"

"Easy," I replied. "Janine."

"Isn't that that British one?"

A little surprised that she was familiar with it, I nodded.

"Starring what's-her-name?"

"Sophie Atkinson."

"That's her."

"You are such a girl!" It was clear from her tone that she wasn't kidding."

"So shit didn't blow up in it."

"Nothing," she moaned, "happens."

"It's called subtlety."

"It's called 'the most boring two hours of my life,'" she snorted.

"Clearly you and I won't be watching movies together."

She sighed. "Favorite band?"

"I don't really listen to music."

"How can you not like music?"

"I said I don't listen to music," I explained, "not that I don't like it."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"People are way too possessive about music," I told her. "They get mad when others don't like their favorite songs, and they look down at other people's tastes."

"Kind of like you and movies."

I took a few moments to glare at her, hopefully disguising the fact that she was totally right. "I just don't think it's worth getting that worked up over." I asked, "Who's your favorite?"

She spoke with the confidence of someone who didn't give a fuck about what I thought of her. "Easy: Upward Feedback."

"What's the front-man's name again?"

"Shane Brown."

"Right," I said. "That is a guy is a self-absorbed asshole, but a self-absorbed asshole with really good hashish."

Emma drained her glass and refilled it. "Do you name-drop because you're trying to impress people; or does it make you feel more important?"

"Ouch."

"You were right," she told me. "This was a big mistake." She rose and strode past the bar and into the ladies' room."

Massaging my eyes, I waited until she was out of sight before retrieving the wad of paper from the floor, smoothing it out, and stuffing it into my back pocket to keep it safe from the immature, self-righteous monster I'd come here with. There was no point in wasting the entire evening.



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-06-11 10:26 pm
Entry tags:

Disappear

previously...


Something I'd never really thought about before was whether my sex voice sounded like my not-sex voice. Noise in these apartments bled through the walls like gauze, and if my grunts and moans were at all familiar-sounding, then my roommates might realize that I had spent most of the late evening enthusiastically fucking my neighbor. This was a problem, inasmuch as it was important to my living situation that they believe I was homosexual. It was a thin disguise, to be sure, but it seemed to work.

I could always pretend I'd been engaged in sodomy in my own room, but then they'd want to meet the guy. Besides, Emma was pretty damned vocal herself, and no amount of biting my shoulder could restrain that.

Jesus my shoulder hurt.

I didn't know what time it was; only that I had to leave for work in a few hours--a prospect that seemed so much more daunting now that I was weighed down by marijuana and sheer physical exhaustion. My body and mind agreed that if there ever was a time to doze off, this was it.

"Dude!"

I really didn't need to hear that sound right now, and so I willed myself not to be there anymore.

"Dude!"

That didn't work. I settled for mumbling, "I don't know anybody by that name."

"Come on," the voice insisted, "wake up!"

"For crying out loud, Em," I moaned, "I'm a man, not a machine."

"My name's not Em."

"My name's not dude."

"Fine," she said, "you call me Em, I'll call you dude."

"Good." I began to drift away again. "I'm glad we had the chance to work this out."

"Dude!"

I tried to ignore her.

"Dude!"

"Em!"

"I wanted to talk to you about something."

Okay, now I was awake. Nothing good ever starts with a phrase like that. "Is that why you led me here?"

"No," she said condescendingly, "I lured you here because I wanted to fuck your brains out. But now that we're here, maybe we should talk about us?"

"What about us?"

"Exactly! I don't even know anything about you. It's not like we've ever had a real conversation."

"Oh, yeah?" I replied. "Then what did we talk about the night we met?" That wasn't a rhetorical question; I don't remember a thing about that conversation, and not because I was drunk.

"Um," she muttered, "I was only pretending to pay attention to what you had to say."

"Are you telling me you were only interested in my body?"

"Is that a problem?"

Not really.

Without giving me a chance to respond aloud, she continued, "Most people have sex after the third or fourth date, and here we've had sex four times ..."

"Technically eight."

"And we haven't even had a real date."

"You want to go on a date?"

"Can we?"

I sighed. "You know, there's so many ways this is a bad idea."

"I know, but ..." She breathed.

"But what?"

"I hate this girl shit."

"What are you talking about?"

She brushed one of her cinnamon curls behind her ear and looked at everything in the room that wasn't me. "I've been thinking about you constantly since the last time. You remember, when you propped my up on the dresser and did that thing?"

"I seem to recall being there for that." Mostly because I didn't think I had that in me. Although, to be fair, I was kind of possessed.

"And I'm just thinking about ..." She waved her hand up and down my body, lingering an extra moment just below my waist. "... that. I've been thinking about your cocky smile and your sarcasm and your crooked nose and I just want to know all about you and I'm so sorry I am such an idiot!" She threw herself back onto the mattress and covered her face with a pillow.

I took a few deep breaths. "You're right."

"I know!" her muffled voice groaned. "That is so stupid! I'm sorry!"

I growled. I needed some goddamn sleep.

Suddenly she tore the pillow away and sat straight up. "Really?"

"Really," I replied. "Why not?" Part of my agreement was pure curiosity, but most of it was the desire to bring this conversation to an end.

"It doesn't have to be anything special," she blathered. "We can just have dinner here. I know a great Thai place down the block."

"I don't think we'd actually do a lot of talking if we ate here."

"True," she said.

"Can we iron out the details tomorrow?" I asked.

"Thank you," she sighed happily.

I dozed off, knowing what a disaster this was going to be, but preferring to deal with the fallout later.

However, it took only a minute for her to whisper, "Dude!"

"Dammit! It's..." I squinted at her alarm clock, but it was covered by her sports bra. "... late!"

She didn't seem to care. "Do you think you could do that thing, you know, horizontally?"

"I am so tired, Em."

"Okay then," she giggled, "can I do something to you?"

"For the love of God, no," I groaned.

Her fingernails bit into my inner thigh.

"Yeah, okay."



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-06-11 02:59 pm
Entry tags:

Gobsmacked

previously...


"Mitchell?" I asked my roommate within moments of arriving home.

"Yeah," he replied.

"Why is there an ATM in the living room?"

"I'm holding it for a friend."

"Oh," I said, as if that explained everything. Well, almost everything. "Mitchell?"

"Yeah."

"We live on the fourth floor."

"Yes, we do," he confirmed.

"Of a walkup."

"I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at," he said.

"How did this get up here?"

He shrugged. "You know."

Before I could ask what it was that he assumed I knew, he'd wandered away.

"I'm going to bed," I concluded and headed straight to my room. If the world was going to fling crap like that at me like it was some kind of inbred monkey, I was just going to have to put myself in the proper state of mind. With enough marijuana to intoxicate a water buffalo, I crawled out my window.

After the day I'd had, nothing was going to make me happier than this bowl. But just before I touched flame to green, a voice from my neighbor's apartment called out, "Dude, is that you?"

I considered taking a hit before replying, but I wanted to savor every moment with my green, foul-smelling victory. "No."

"Dude," she said, callously disregarding my falsehood, "I've got to show you something."

"I don't got to see it." Unless it was herself clad only in a lacy pushup bra, preferably in cerulean blue, which would brighten up her eyes. That was negotiable.

"Aren't you even curious?"

"No."

"Guess."

I took a deep breath, unfortunately, of regular air, uncontaminated by cannabis. What was it going to take to get some goddamned peace in my life. "Will you leave me alone if I do?"

"Only if you want me to."

"Oh, I want you to."

"We'll see about that." She added, "Go on, guess!"

I folded up my pipe. This was going to take a while. Now what the hell could be so exciting that I had to endure this? I took a stab at it: "Is it...?"

"It's apple butter!"

My mind said, "What?" My mouth also said, "What?"

"Come inside and I'll show you."

"Can you show me out here?"

There was a long pause as she considered her answer. "Please!"

"Fine," I growled, prying open her window."

"I'm in the kitchen!"

Stepping out of her bedroom, I found myself completely disoriented. Her apartment was only two-thirds the size of mine, so why couldn't I find the kitchen? "Marco!" I shouted.

"Polo!" she shouted back.

Following the sound of her voice, I muttered, "How does one get the apple milk to make the apple curd you need to churn to... Oh, my."

I had to conclude that the unlabeled jar in her left hand contained apple butter, because she was sucking on the finger of the other one, and she appeared to be enjoying it. When I opened my mouth, I'd planned on asking her about that, but what I actually said indicated what was really on the forefront of my mind: "You're not wearing your shirt."

She didn't say anything; she just grinned an enormous, smug grin. Below her waist were her unremarkable track pants--the ones I had once torn off so eagerly not long ago--but above the waist she wore only a periwinkle, pushup bra.

Periwinkle. Okay, I was willing to compromise.

I needed to say something right now. It needed to be witty, but not so funny that it would kill this hypnotic stare-down we had going on. I said, "Apple butter?"

She took a moment to finish licking her finger clean before she asked, "Want some?"

With the grace of a zombie, I reached for the jar.

She pulled away and scolded me, "Like this!" She dipped her finger into the jar and held it held it in front of my face.

Without breaking eye contact, I steadied her hand with mine and enjoyed my first taste of the touted apple butter.

"Although," she said, "there may be one way to make it even better." With that, she dunked my pinkie in the jar and licked it.

Using my free hand, I braced myself on the nearest door frame, seeing as my legs were now useless to me.

"Not bad," she purred. "So what to you think?"

I grabbed the back of her neck, pulled her closer, and kissed her ravenously. From that point forward, only one thought in my head had any sort of coherency, and it demanded that she leave that sexy-as-hell bra alone as long as possible. The rest of the clothing in the room, however, was fair game. Sure enough, my pant, shirt, and tie joined her track pants in a pile in the corner. Don't ask me how they got there. I don't even remember how my boots and socks got off of my feet, and those were usually the things that crippled momentum.

The rational part of my mind only surfaced for a moment when it heard her gasp, "Wait." She fumbled around the counter until she opened her silverware drawer and retrieved a condom. A few minutes of frenzied grappling, fumbling, and thrusting later, she caught her breath and asked, "Can we lie down on the floor now?"

I nodded and helped her off the counter.

After we rested and enjoyed some air, we both laughed. She helped herself out of that beautiful, beautiful bra. "What did you think of the apple butter?"

"It made me forget all about getting high."

"You've got some weed?"

"Pretty regularly," I replied.

"Can I have some?"

"I thought you didn't like to smoke because," I started to say before good sense caught up to me. "Yes, you can have some."



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-06-11 09:20 am

Appropriation

previously...


Tyffanie Grant was only sixteen, but she had spent the past five years selling out pop-music concerts and acting in her all-ages sitcom, Mac and Daddy. She'd always dressed and acted provocatively, yet maintained her virtue. Tonight, she was going to put money on it. Judging by the decorations and the size of this yacht on which I stood, I'd say it was a lot of money.

For a purity ball, I was expecting more white clothing. Even the boys, all athletic and bobbing their heads in unison to the music, wore mostly baby blue shirts tucked into their meticulously pressed khakis--too cool, of course, to dance.

The girls unanimously wore black cocktail dresses with skirts that reached down to their mid-thighs and kept hiking up as they wriggled, writhed, and sweat to the bubblegum blaring out of the unnecessarily large speakers in every corner. To Ms. Grant's credit, none of the tunes were her own.

After hours of this, I barely even noticed my colleague, Gretchen, finishing her photographing orbit of the room and gliding over. "Max, look at this."

"I am looking."

She smacked the back of my head. "Not there."

I turned my attention to the display on her camera. "What am I looking at?"

"Who's that?"

"Phil Ferris," I replied, "the washed-up comedian who plays the titular father in Mac and Daddy."

She smacked me again. "That's for saying tit in a yacht full of teenagers."

"It means title, you idiot."

She shrugged. "I know, I just like hitting you."

"That's nice," I told her. "Can I go back to being a creepy pedophile now?"

This time, when she swung at me, I caught her wrist.

"Do you think you could tell me what's going on without hitting me again?"

"I'm not talking about Phil Ferris," she said, liberating her arm, "I'm talking about the guy behind him."

I squinted. "Looks like a ferret in a sweater vest."

"Yeah, but who is he?"

I scanned the room and caught sight of him swaggering over in this direction, with his loosely knotted tie, well-worn cargo pants, and scruffy blonde hair. I'd never seen him before, but it was obvious to me exactly who I was dealing with: my newly acquired nemesis, who worked for my rival paper and had been snatching exclusive interviews right out from under me.

I said to him, "Allen Dean, I presume."

"Wayne," said someone nearby.

"Say what?" I turned to the voice to see a towering slab of Nordic beef. His blond hair, like Gretchen's, improbably swept over his head in the most stylish manner imaginable. His lips, like Gretchen's, puffed alluringly. His chest, like Gretchen's, threatened the integrity of his button-up shirt. And he brandished a camera, just like Gretchen.

The Aryan repeated, "I'm Wayne."

"I'm Gretchen," she purred, checking him out.

"Knock that off," I hissed at her.

"You must be the lauded Max Fuentes," the ferret said.

"You must be..."

"Not lauded much longer," he added.

"That's a declaration of war, Dean," I told him.

"A bit of a one-sided war, don't you think?"

"This sexual tension is killing me," I said. "Should we make out now, or should we trade a few more barbs?"

He shook his head. "You're funny. But redundant. I'm about to score an exclusive, and all you'll have left to write are captions."

"You're so cute," I told him before cupping my hands to mouth and turning toward the dance floor. "Tyffanie Grant! Come on over!"

A few moments passed, and she emerged from a cloud of giggling teenage girls without a word, just a curious smile.

"If I promised to dance with you and all your friends, you think I could get an exclusive?"

She looked me up and down, grabbed my hand, and said, "Deal."

As she pulled me away, I made sure to blow Allen Dean a kiss.

A half hour and a full notebook later, I rejoined Gretchen, who was standing alone and fanning her face with the hand not occupied with a camera.

"The hormones in there are suffocating," I told her. "If I don't fuck something tonight, I am going to die."

She let out something between a moan and a sigh. "Oh, yeah. It's a good thing I have a boyfriend to go home to." I couldn't tell if the sigh was one of relief or schadenfreude. It didn't matter, because I spent the rest of the evening inebriated to the point of nausea by youthful lust.

When I got home hours later, I tried a cold shower, but I couldn't wash the hormones off of me. It made it worse, actually, as I became aware of how nude I was, and how badly I wanted to share that nudity with someone who richly deserved it.

I tried masturbating, but I kept remembering how young the objects of my fantasies were. Whenever I tried to change the subject, I found myself recalling the skinny, immature limbs of my high-school sweetheart. Whichever way my mind's eye went, it landed on jailbait.

And so I tried climbing onto my fire escape and getting some fresh air laced with tetrahydrocannabinol, but this was the worst idea of them all, because of my neighbor.

I could have fled at that moment, because, facing away from me with her cell to her ear, she had no idea I was there. Yet I was paralyzed by her neck, exposed by a loose ponytail and glowing with sweat, by the damp polyester clinging to her back, and by her workout pants.

Damn. Athletic women: my only weakness.

My mind, already on fire, ceded control to my body, which maneuvered my feet right up to her. The fingers of my right hand slid over her hip so they could tug loose the knot that held her drawstring together. The rest of them stroked her stomach and crept under the hem of her shirt.

She told her phone, "I'm going to have to call you back, Mom."

Fifteen minutes later, give or take, I rolled onto my back and wheezed, "Sorry."

She also rolled onto her back and attempted, with limited success, to slow down her breathing. "Why?" she panted. "Fair's fair, after all."



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-05-04 07:53 am
Entry tags:

Sated

previously...


Most pornography is produced by males for a male audience, and therefore it tends to favor male fantasies. Whether we dream of being all powerful or powerless, one thing is for certain--the pleasure is all about us. For example, if a woman suddenly finds herself consumed by an unexpected, libidinous frenzy, porn would dictate that she begin by performing furious fellatio on her partner.

It turns out this is not the case at all. She came four times before I came once. Between that and the weed, she fell immediately to sleep.

Being objectified sexually was something most men didn't really mind, and, Lord knows, I've had a lot of sex with a lot of women who really didn't know much about me. In this real-life porno, however, something seemed off. I existed only to scratch Emma's itch.

I remained in her bed for quite a while, wondering what the hell had just happened, until I finally decided that any thinking could be done better in my own bedroom. All I had to do was find my clothes.

My khakis and underwear were easy; they were dangling, inside-out, from my left ankle. The reason they were hanging there was the same reason I only needed to locate my right boot and sock. My tie, still knotted around my neck, was clenched in her fist. I tugged gently, but it didn't give. I tugged harder, but it still wouldn't give. I yanked, and that caused her to roll over in the other direction, taking my neck with it. Slipping it over my head, I twisted and arched and squirmed my way to freedom.

The condom plopped into her wastebasket before I untangled pulled my pants and pulled them up. I located my missing boot on top of her bureau, my shirt in her half-open closet, and my sock in the tiny hallway outside of her room.

After dressing, I wondered if I should take my boots off to tiptoe over her hardwood floors to her window, but a long, deep snore from the bed informed me that I'd be okay. All the same, I'd prefer a few moments to myself to get my thoughts together, so I crept as softly as I could for the exit.

And then, just before I made it to safety, she began muttering. I froze. My ears strained, until they heard, "Just bark if you need me."

I retrieved my belt from the fire escape and returned home.

Work the next day was tedious, which was just fine with me. Had anything exciting happened, like, say, former child star Julian Glass getting arrested for DUI as he had twice already this month, and had I been stuck standing outside the courthouse with all of the other alleged journalists, our tape recorders and notebooks in hand, I likely would have snapped.

Every inch of the news floor sensed my frustration and confusion, and all stayed away, except for Bill, who didn't know the meaning of the word couth. He said, "You look like someone beat the hell out of you last night. And you look like you kind of enjoyed it."

I enjoyed it a lot, actually.

That evening, I knocked on her door the instant I'd made it to our floor. When she didn't answer, I tried again fifteen minutes later, and again after another twenty minutes. After the fourth attempt, I gave up and headed to my room.

During the immeasurable amount of time lying on my mattress, staring at the ceiling, I'd completely forgotten that my favorite way to alleviate boredom and stress was smoking weed. When that factoid came back to me, I headed immediately to the fire escape, reaching for my pipe and matches; I mean, if there ever was a time for getting thoroughly baked, this was it.

On second thought, if there was ever a time for not getting thoroughly baked, this was it.

I had nearly made it outside when a barely audible shuffle rattled from the wall. My legs propelled me to her door, upon which my knuckles rapped.

She answered immediately, my tie in her hand-- exactly where I'd left it. "Here for this?"

"Yeah."

We both alternated between looking at each other, looking at the floor, and looking at the ceiling. Finally, I coughed out, "We should talk."

She sighed and beckoned me inside.

We shared a long, anxious moment until she spoke up. "I don't know where to start."

"I'll go," I said, choosing my words carefully. "I have serious, serious opinions... beliefs, actually... about taking advantage of someone under the influence of... you know... anything."

"I know!" she moaned. "I'm so sorry!"

"I know!" I moaned. "I'm..." I frowned. "Did you just apologize to me?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Because I came here to apologize to you."

"For what?"

"For taking advantage of you."

She laughed. "Dude, wasn't I the one who tore all your clothes off?"

"Yeah, but you were under the influence."

"So were you."

"I'm a professional," I told her. "You smoke, and you turn into this lust-crazed monster. That's what I took advantage of."

She paced back and forth, to compose her thoughts. "You're saying I was so strung out that I would have fucked anything, and you just happened to be there?"

"I wouldn't have phrased it quite like that."

She sighed. "Dude, if it were anyone else, I probably would have just run away and played with my toys."

"Really."

"Maybe not anyone else, but you catch my drift."

"Oh." I asked, "So what does that mean, exactly?"

"Dude," she replied, "let's not turn this into a thing. Let's just chalk it up to a bad night."

"I don't know if I'd call that bad."

She grinned a crooked grin and pushed a cinnamon curl behind her ear. "How about 'poor judgment'?"

"Close enough." We simultaneously sighed, letting the air out of our shoulders. "I should probably go then," I said.

"Yeah, dude," she replied, "you probably should."



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2012-03-15 04:46 pm
Entry tags:

Counterintuitive

previously...


I don’t know why I even bother. I mean, I should have known when I took a goddamn train to goddamn Boston and tracked down the ex-girlfriend of Lane goddamn Sheridan to uncover that massive bombshell from his past, that goddamn Allen goddamn Dean would have beaten me to it. Yeah, so he’s only done it once before, but, given that he was my brand new nemesis, it was inevitable, wasn't it? I was getting old--almost twenty-eight. Over the goddamn hill.

And I don't even know why I bothered to schlep this goddamn lawn chair all the over from the goddamn Cloisters and up four goddamn floors and to my goddamn fire escape because I knew full well that the moment I turned my goddamn back, my goddamn neighbor was just going to sit on it. And I would try to goddamn converse with her, even though she was just going to call me Dude, like she had ever since I've goddamn known her. And it was only a matter of goddamn time before she blew my goddamn cover with my goddamn roommates and outed me as a goddamned heterosexual.

I sat in my prize, determined not to let her win. I had no idea where she was, but I knew she was watching me, and that this chair was comfy. Unfortunately, a sizzling jones then set in, and I needed to get high right goddamn now.

I stood and mourned the upcoming loss of my seat. Oh well, I sighed, my funeral. It took only a moment to gather up my pot-smoking and return to the outside, but that was all she needed. The inevitability of it all did nothing to lessen the sting.

"Dude," she said.

I gritted my teeth, and choked out a polite offer, "Weed?"

She shook her head.

I was used to that too. Still, just before I put my pipe to my lips, I told her, "Your funeral."

She sat up in the chair. "That doesn't even make sense. How is it my funeral if I'm not doing something that could make me cough and die?"

I took my hit and held it, wondering how exactly it was that I'd set her off--so I'd know how to do it again.

"Why would you even say that?" she persisted.

I exhaled. "It was just something to say," I replied. "I didn't even think about it."

She closed her eyes and sighed. "That was really weird of me," she said. "Sorry."

"That was pretty weird."

"You know what?" she continued, extending her hand. "Fucking day I've had, I don't care."

I handed her the pipe and a book of matches, asking, "Are you sure you can handle this? You had a lot of fear before."

She snatched the paraphernalia away. "Dude, don't." A flick of a match later, her beautiful chest rose as smoke filled her lungs. Her equally beautiful face grimaced as she tried to keep it to herself.

A smirk crept across my cheek.

She exhaled in a fit of coughs, and when she recovered, she snickered, "What are you laughing at?"

I shrugged.

"It's not funny."

"It's a little bit funny." I reached for my stuff, but she yanked it away from me.

"Mine!"

"Mine!" I replied.

"Yours when I'm done."

She took another hit, and another. I found that my irritation at watching my marijuana disappear, bud by bud, into this woman's mouth was tempered by the fact that it was one hell of a mouth. Finally she returned the half-exhausted pipe and a third of the book of matches she'd started with.

"Are you sure you're finished?"

She giggled.

"I'll take that as a yes."

"Oh, my god," she moaned, "I needed that."

"Cannabis has that effect on people."

She sighed as I helped myself to the remains of my bowl, and I asked her when I exhaled, "You want to tell me about the fucking day you had?"

Her eyes shot open. "Oh, no."

"You want me to tell you about the fucking day I had?"

She sat up in the chair, gripping the armrests like she was on a plane hitting severe turbulence. "You want to go inside."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do."

"I just shared an assload of weed with you."

"Dude," she insisted.

"Okay, what the hell is going on?"

She giggled.

I laughed with her, but I had no idea why. "Better now?"

Still giggling, she got to her feet and shook her head.

"You are one strange cat," I told her.

She started to glide toward me.

I backed away, until the only thing standing between me and a four-story fall was a flimsy, cast-iron railing. "Now just wait a minute."

She giggled again; her face was less than an inch from mine. I tried to turn away, but she followed my gaze in every direction. "I warned you," she said.

My blood pressure rose. "Are you going to tell me what this is about?"

"I just remembered why I don't get high," she whispered into my ear before nibbling on it.

"Ah."

"This is your last chance to get away."

"You're not making a very good case for that."

I felt a quick tug, and my belt clattered onto the fire escape. "Your funeral," she said.



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2011-06-30 09:05 pm
Entry tags:

Get over Yourself

previously...


A lot of people blow off work-related steam by getting drunk or high. My job is getting drunk or high, so I always had to look other places. I didn't really like movies because I had met too many people involved in making those movies. I didn't really like retail therapy because I didn't have any money. I couldn't go dancing because it's too social an activity. Same went for sex.

If there was one thing that always wound me down, it was the uniquely freeform structure of cooking. Not only did the sizzles, aromas, and flavors put me into a meditative trance, but I had something to eat when I was done.

If there was a downside, though, it was that I ended up with a lot of food I didn't know what to do with. Luckily, I had roommates, and one drifted in, buoyed by the scent of my hobby.

"Hey, roomie," Cameron said.

"Hey, roomie," I replied.

"Hangin' out in the kitchen?"

Since I was indeed hanging out in the kitchen, I could safely say, "Yes."

"You cooking?"

"Yes."

"Cool." He bobbed his head and studied every detail of the cramped space except for the large percentage of it occupied by me.

I waited a long time for him to say something, but nothing happened. It was pretty obvious what he wanted, though, so I decided to go ahead and skip the small-talk. "Want some?"

"I couldn't."

"I insist."

"Mitchell and I just ate," he replied. Not really hungry."

Maybe it wasn't that obvious what he wanted. "Oh."

"Roomie, I think we need to talk."

"Nothing good ever begins with that phrase, Cameron."

He took a breath and stared into space, looking for the words he'd need to continue. "You know that Mitchell and I have no problem with you smoking pot on the fire escape, right? We even join you sometimes."

"But...?" I asked, because the situation demanded it.

"But you need to be cool about it," he continued. "Somebody's been complaining to the super."

"Who?"

"The super?" he replied. "That's the guy that--"

"Who's complaining?"

"We don't know."

"I know who it is," I concluded. "It's our neighbor."

"No," he said slowly, "Emma and I talked a long time ago about it, and she's totally okay with us smoking weed."

"She's okay with you smoking weed," I clarified.

"So you're telling me that she dislikes you so much that she'd make all of our lives miserable just to mess with you?"

"Yes."

"That's crazy!"

"No," I told him, "she's crazy."

"You barely even know each other!"

Well, that wasn't entirely true. "Leaving aside the identity of the snitch," I said, eager to change the subject, "does the super know who's doing the smoking?"

"No, but he's getting pretty pissed."

"Well if he doesn't know..."

"Come on, roomie," he whined, "you know he's going to figure it out."

"He never struck me as a perceptive man."

"You've never met the guy."

"In that case," I said, "he'll never suspect it's me."

"I don't want to get evicted."

"What should I do, then?"

"Be," he replied, "cool."

He left me in the kitchen, considerably less cool I was when he'd entered. With a grunt, I spooned some of my lamb rogan josh into a plastic takeout container I'd held onto because I was my father's son, and he was apparently raised in the Great Depression of the 1930s. And the, after thinking long and hard about the implications of the conversation I just had with Cameron, I decided to smoke some pot on the fire escape.

I crawled outside, balanced the container on the railing, and spent the next hour watching the buildings of the city fade from the cool blues and grays of daytime to the reds and ambers of night. The sound and fury of my life dissolved away and blew away in a gentle summer breeze, and I hadn't even had to eat or spark up yet.

Wait. In other words, after all this time out here, the food was getting cold and my pipe was still in my pants. Fantastic. Now the memory loss was becoming a permanent fixture.

I shrugged and reached into my pocket, an action that knocked the container from its perch. In a move that would have impressed even the swiftest of hummingbirds, I lashed out my hand and caught it.

I placed it back on the railing, waited a moment for my heart rate to settle down, and put pipe carefully to my lips. No sooner did I light the match than I heard a voice behind me say, "Hey, dude."

I yelped, spun around, knocked the container over again, caught it, returned it, and hid the pipe behind me.

Emma shook her head and grinned that sexy, crooked grin I still remember from when I first met her. "You know, dude," she told me, "I'm not going to turn you in."

"Why would you think I was thinking that?"

"Because the walls are thin, and you were shouting."

I should have been mortified, but I really wasn't. "I was shouting?"

She shook her head and laughed. "Nice move there, by the way, Johnny Ringo."

"It's the boots," I informed her. "They're what give me ..." Once again, I knocked over the container, and once again, I caught it.

"There's got to be a better place for that."

I put it back and rolled my eyes. "Nonsense. This is the perfect... ah, fuck." Apparently I'd not braced it properly this time, because it tumbled off the edge, and I couldn't to anything to stop it this time.

It ricocheted off the railing below us, and, defying all laws of physics, bounced off the one below that before rebounding off the shoulder of a pedestrian, splattering lamb and yogurt and onions and ginger and cinnamon and lots of other colorful spices all over the sidewalk and said pedestrian.

Hypnotized by shame, I stared at the carnage until that he craned his neck to glare in my direction.

"Um," I said to him. "Sorry?"

He continued to stare, his rage simmering to a boil.

"Do you think maybe you can toss that back--urk!"

The urk happened because Emma had grabbed my collar and yanked me from the edge. Eyes wide and teeth gritted, she hissed, "Do you have any idea who that was?"

"An innocent bystander?"

"The super."

"Oh," I moaned, "fuck."

"You are such an idiot."

I switched to disaster mode. "Here's what we're going to do," I said. "We're going to split up. That way, he can't get both of us."

"Good night, dude."



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2011-06-20 07:08 pm

Sobriquet

previously...


"Maxwell?"

"No."

"Maximus?"

"Do I look like a gladiator?"

"I've never seen you in a toga."

I liked her. "Keep playing your cards right."

"I give up," she said with a coy smile.

"Maximiliano."

"Really?"

I nodded.

"Why would you ever want to shorten a name like that?"

"Because it's impossible to say in the middle of an orgasm."

After she blinked them, her eyes went wide.

"Have you ever tried?" I asked.

"Max Fuentes!" shouted someone else entirely from outside the dressing room we occupied.

"What is it, Fraulein Kommandant?"

When Gretchen entered, her angel's face was scrunched up in confusion; but she let that pass before replying, "You're supposed to be interviewing the star, not the makeup girl."

"Makeup woman," I told her.

"Well?" Gretchen tapped her feet to further illustrate her point.

As I stood, the makeup woman said to me, "When you're done in there, let's get back to talking about your name."

"Looking forward to it, Jen."

"Lynn," she replied coldly.

I winced. Gretchen snorted.

I let Gretchen go ahead of me, because my dislike of her did not extend to the way her ass swayed when she walked. "I don't see why I have to be here for this," I muttered.

"Because you're the reporter." She didn't end the sentence with the word idiot, but it was implied.

Sarcasm was a concept that didn't exist in her world, so I skipped ahead in the conversation. "I'm a goddamned stenographer. Let me save everyone the time: 'I'm Curtis McKean, and I'm really excited to be working with Stanley Marshall again. He's an actor's director, and he has this vision I believe in that really connects with the audience. Know what I'm sayin'? It's a dream come true to be working on a movie about the character of Mastermind, because I've been a fan of the comics since I was a little kid ...'"

She tossed her perfect waves of blond hair and growled, "What the hell is your problem?"

"My problem is that I have to walk through that door and say the words, 'Rumor has it that you and costar Alysin Perez sizzled off-screen as much as you sizzled on-screen. Any truth to that?'" I held my thumb and forefinger millimeters apart. "I am this close to clawing out my own goddamned tongue." I muttered, "Not like I'm going to get to use it on Gwen anyway."

Gretchen looked over her shoulder to the dressing room with a frown. "I thought her name was Lynn."

"Fuck this," I told her as I burst into the green room. "Time to be a quote-unquote journalist."

"Pull yourself together, Max Fuentes!" she scolded.

And the worst part? She was absolutely right. I loved my job. When was the last time I let it get to me like this? When was the last time I forgot a woman's name like this--especially one I was wooing so successfully? And so, as much as I didn't want to admit that she was right, I had to. "Okay," I sighed. "Why don't you give me a second while you go take some pictures or whatever it is you do."

"Because I took them already."

"Even the one where he gazes soulfully out a window?"

"Yes."

"How about the faux-candid shot where he lets down his guard and laughs shyly into his hand?"

"I forgot that one."

"Well get to it, then!" I demanded.

"You don't get to tell me how to do my job!"

From the overstuffed couch nearby, Curtis McKean chuckled, "You two need to get a room."

I was aghast because, while my body would gladly explore a weekend's worth of sins with her body, my personality found hers intolerably irritating. She was aghast because she'd found out by accident exactly what my personality thought of hers.

"Curtis," I said. "Can I call you Curtis?"

"Sure!" he replied.

I took a careful, cleansing breath before I said something I might regret. See, I know that I can be a cranky person. Some of this could be attributed to the fact that my job consisted of enabling overpaid narcissism, often on an irregular schedule, and usually at the cost of my sleep and health. Some of this could be attributed to my biggest hobbies, which consisted of sex, drugs, and the acquisition of such. Some--if not most--of this, could be attributed to the fact that I was a New Yorker. Hell, I'm sure that a lot of the blame could go to growing up in a trailer park with a bipolar tomboy as my closest friend.

But today was special. Today marked the eighth time in the two weeks since I met my new neighbor that she called me dude. That's not what was breaking me. No, what really pissed me off was how much that was getting under my skin.

Curtis McKean didn't deserve me taking this out on him, but that wasn't going to stop me from doing so.

"Curtis," I told him, "if you ever insinuate any kind of romantic chemistry between me and my photographer again ..."

"The newspaper's photographer," she clarified.

"...this photographer again, I will drop-kick your skull across the Triboro Bridge."

"What he said," Gretchen agreed.

Curtis McKean's perfectly sculpted nostrils flared with a furious veracity that he could never quite bring with him to the big screen. "You can't talk to me like that!"

The fact that I did was all I needed for me to return to character. I laughed, "Just kidding, Curtis! Can I call you Curtis?"

Curtis McKean's membership in Mensa was one of those little publicity factoids bandied about as a means of distinguishing him from the rest of the stars dotting screens big and small, but even all that intelligence couldn't help him comprehend what had just happened. He turned to Gretchen for slack-jawed clarification, but she just giggled, rolled her eyes, and shrugged.

"Before I ask you what it's like to work with director Stanley Marshall," I began, "how about letting me in on some of that behind-the-scenes chemistry between you and costar Alyson Perez?"

Hours later, I shuffled up the stairs to my apartment, dreading the inevitable run-in with my neighbor, who always seemed to be waiting to ambush me with that most cruel of cudgels: the word dude. Yet somehow--and I don't know how--I made it home unscathed.

As I deadbolted and chained the door, my fellow apartment-dwellers waved from the loveseat in front of the television.

Fellow dweller number one, Cameron, said, "Roomie."

"Roomie," I said back.

"Just getting in?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Cool."

"Yes, it is."

Fellow dweller number two, Mitchell, chimed in, "Shorty."

"Chico," I chimed back.

"How was work?"

"Crap," I replied. "Yours?"

"Crap."

"Glad we had this talk," I told them.

"Same again tomorrow?"

"Probably," I muttered before stumbling into my bedroom, kicking off my boots, and tossing myself onto my mattress just in time for my cell phone to buzz. I didn't have to look to know that it was my editor, Myron, who was the only person who ever called me.

"Chief," I said.

"I hate it when you call me that," he replied.

"Probably as much as I hate it when you call me on my phone."

"I don't really care what you hate," he said. "Reese Kensington just got arrested again for drunken disorderly."

"I'm not surprised," I replied. "Guy can't hold his liquor."

"I need you to meet Gretchen downtown and get a statement as soon as he makes bail."

I whined, "I just got home!"

"Well," he said, "since you live all the way up in Inwood, it's going to take you forever to get there, so I suggest you leave now."

I cried out, "Fuck!" so that the fu part lasted all the way through my ending the call, getting to my feet, slipping on my boots, splashing my face with cold water, and storming through the living room. The ck only occurred when I stepped out of the door, only to see my neighbor in the process of stepping into hers.

"Dude," she said before disappearing into her apartment.

Great. Now I was going to have to lash out at Reese Kensington, which sucked because I actually liked him...



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2011-06-14 08:49 pm
Entry tags:

Winding Up

previously...


If you stopped me right now and asked if I had the time, one of three things might happen: I might ask, "The time to do what?"; I might treat you to a verbose, rambling meditation on the concept of time, how it relates to motion, and how a time machine would actually deposit you in the empty vacuum of space, due to the unending revolution of the Earth around the sun, and the rotation of the outer spiral arm of the Milky Way, and to the ongoing expansion of the universe; but most likely, I would give you a blank, bloodshot stare as your question ground to a halt the delicate, hard-fought momentum of my thoughts.

I needed every thread of concentration I could muster for my journey to the battered comfort of my mattress, because I couldn't tell you where it was. The only thing I could say for certain was that it wasn't in Park Slope anymore, because my landlady sold the place out from under me and my roommate was a cock.

I was pretty sure I had a new floor onto which my mattress now rested, and I was pretty sure I had new roommates, and I was also pretty sure I had to fib a little to get them to accept me. What was it I told them? Oh, yeah: that I was gay.

So maybe I had to fib a lot.

But why would I do that? I couldn't have been that desperate ... unless, of course, the apartment was in Manhattan. Even the filthiest of heterosexual harlots would tell that lie to get an apartment in Manhattan, and I was pretty damned filthy. However, there wasn't much of a point to having a place in Manhattan if one couldn't retire there for illicit trysts--unless it was somewhere really inconvenient, like Inwood.

That's it! I lived in Inwood as a gay man!

Okay, that was beyond fucking ridiculous ... but it had enough of a ring of truth that I was just going to go with it. And now that I knew where I was headed, I needed to figure out how to get there. That part was easy. I just had to take the A-train north to 207th Street and walk. The trick was figuring out which subway train I was on right now, where it was headed, and how to make the necessary transfer.

"The next stop is," the far-too-pleasant computerized female voice announced, "Inwood-207th Street!"

"Stand clear of the closing doors!" added the equally pleasant computerized male voice.

"A-train, next stop is the final stop, final stop," continued the less-than-pleasant conductor over the intercom. "No passengers, no passengers, remember all of your personal belongings, last stop, A-train, last stop."

Well, shit. This was going to be easier than I thought.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. My editor had assigned me a phone-in fluff piece about whatever summer movie was scheduled to bust the blocks this coming weekend--but then word got back to us about a super-secret, super-spontaneous, super-small-venue being put on by super-big-rock-stars at a bar in Long Island City. This kind of thing happened whenever a stadium-stuffing band like Duckpants felt the need to return to its alleged roots to reassert its alleged street cred. This kind of gesture is useless, however, if the public doesn't know about it, and so details are "leaked" to the press.

Being a successfully filthy harlot, I didn't have a whole lot of time for anyone playing hard to get, but unfortunately my editor did. And since Duckpants would be acting coy about their "unexpected" publicity, I needed to turn on the charm. I called a guy I knew in Bay Ridge who knew a guy in White Plains who knew a guy in Binghamton who knew a guy in Ontario, and before long, I was trading a notebook full of candid quotes for two ounces of the finest, not-at-all-legal agricultural engineering in the Northeastern Corridor.

And that's why, hours later, I found myself shuffling out of a desolate subway station, more stoned than I would be had I been living in Roman-occupied Palestine, seeing as I was a filthy harlot and all.

"God," I whispered, "let's make a deal. If you get me from here to my mattress, I will stop being such a harlot." I considered this for a moment. "Yeah, that's not going to work. How about, you get me home unscathed, and I will stop drinking and smoking the funny weed or the wacky tobaccy or the whacko tobacco or whatever it is you call it ..." What would God call it? "You know what I mean. Consider it. Amen. Sign of the cross and all."

I lurched forward, one foot after another, pretending not to notice the small pack of teenage hooligans popping up around me like prairie dogs wearing denim. Any interaction with these whippersnappers, whether it be confrontational or conversational, would extinguish the tiny, smoldering embers of brainpower that had survived the trip here. I had to get away, right the hell now.

"Hey, Ed!" one of the teens called out.

This was good, because I was not Ed, and so I didn't have to acknowledge them.

"Ed!" a teen called out. It could have been the same teen, but I didn't care, because I was not Ed.

"Come on, Ed! Talk to us!"

Yeah, Ed, come on.

"Ed!"

Come on, Ed! I looked up to see if I could help these teens find Ed.

"We're right over here, Ed!"

My eyes scanned the otherwise empty street.

"Behind you, Ed!" yelled a voice from behind me.

I pushed forward.

"Don't be that way, Ed!"

Was I Ed? I thought I was Max. Did I become Ed when I wasn't paying attention? How is that even possible?

"Turn around, Ed!"

If I was going to make it over this last hurdle, I needed to hold onto one important fact: I was not Ed

"Ed!"

Maybe I was Ed.

"Whatever, Ed! Fuck you!"

And for the next half-block, silence blessed me. Even if I was Ed, I still made it to the front door of my apartment building, and that was something. To follow this up, I amazed myself further with my ability to climb four stories of stairs and operate not just one, but two locks, and, since I was batting a thousand on this quest home, I thought I'd take my chances in the kitchen.

That was my first real mistake of the night.

I'd been squinting to keep my eyes open since I first left Queens, so it took me a long moment to understand exactly what it was I was seeing. On the kitchen counter sat a rectangular block of wood. Towering in the center of this block was a pair of flashlight batteries, from which copper wires coiled away, wrapping themselves around a pair of handles that rose from said block like horns; and holding onto these handles were the white knuckles of one of my roommates.

"Mitchell," I asked, making my second mistake, "what are you doing?"

"Electrocuting myself," he replied without taking even a moment to think about it.

My voice cracked. "Why?"

"To kill the parasites."

"I'm going to bed," I concluded and headed straight to my room, stopping when the front door knocked gently. I studied it, not fully comprehending. When I finally understood that it was not the door knocking, but someone on the other side of the door, I announced, "I'll get it!"

Strike three.

I peeked my head outside to find nothing. Maybe I was right the first time. Maybe the door did knock itself.

Proving me wrong, however, was the sound of a tussle to my left. I turned to investigate and witnessed someone struggling to balance several file folders and a purse in a desperate attempt to get inside her own apartment, which was right next to mine. What this meant, I didn't know--any and all conclusions were far beyond my reach at this time. I still had an eye for detail, though, and these details were fantastic: a short, black pencil skirt; well-maintained thighs in charcoal stockings; knee-high, leather boots; and bouncy, cinnamon curls. I couldn't tell you the color of her eyes or the shape of her lips, though, because she didn't raise her head when she told me, "You left your key in the lock."

"Well, shit," I replied when I realized she was correct. "I don't know where my head is today."

"Happens to the best of us, dude," she replied.

"My name's not dude," I said, and sobriety struck me like it was a sandstone boulder and I was an anthropomorphic coyote.

The sound of my heart beating its last was drowned out by the sound of a purse and several folders crashing onto the landing at her feet. "What the fuck you doing here?" Emma demanded.

"What are you doing here?"

"I asked you first!"

"I live here!"

"No, you don't!" she insisted.

"I have a key," I replied.

"No," she said, "that was there before you got here."

"Then how did I get inside in the first place?"

"It doesn't matter. You don't live there. Cameron and Mitchell live here."

"And now so do I."

"No, you don't!"

"What about you?" I asked. "I thought you lived in Williamsburg."

"I told you I was apartment-sitting."

"At the time," I admitted, "all of my concentration was on defiling you."

She groaned in defeat. "Now I remember. They told me they needed a new roommate."

"That's what I've been telling you," I said. "New roommate."

"Dude," she replied, "I read the flyer. 'F or GM only.'"

"First off," I reminded her, "My name isn't Dude. Second off, I'm totally a GM."

"I can testify under oath that you're not a GM."

"That was a fluke."

She shook her head. "Nobody flukes that good without a lot of practice."

"That's kind of you to say."

She squatted down to pick up everything she'd dropped. "Fuck this," she growled. "I don't care what you're doing here, dude, but leave me the fuck out of it."

"That's not going to be a problem, Em." This was going to be a problem, because, God help me, I wanted to bend her over the railing and fuck her until my legs fell off.

"My name's not Em, dude," she replied.

"Right back at you," I told her as I yanked my keys from the deadbolt and slammed the door between us.

"Sounds like you met our neighbor," Mitchell said from the kitchen.

"She's ..." I replied. "Something else."

"She's pretty sweet once you get to know her," he apologized.

"I'm sure she is." She tasted like vanilla, actually, but I wasn't supposed to know that.

"Good night, Max," he said.

I grunted. If this was God's idea of unscathed, then I was going to have to renegotiate the terms of our contract.



to be continued...

i_17bingo: (Default)
2011-04-03 04:34 pm
Entry tags:

Whisper

previously...


To be honest, I've had worse hangovers than this. Hell, compared to some of the benders I've plunged into in the name of journalism, this was amateur hour. I did drink a lot, though, and so my sandpaper eyes refused to open, the sparkplugs in my brain weren't firing properly, and my metaphors were mixing. Until any of these things sorted themselves out, I would never be able to work out whose hair and warm breath were tickling my bare chest.

I concentrated a little more and determined that it wasn't just my chest that was bare. In fact, based on tactile deduction, the only part of me that wasn't bare was my sock-covered left foot.

None of this made any sense. That's not true. It made sense that I'd wake up in bed with a stranger; that's just classic Fuentes. What didn't make sense was the irresponsibility of my current position. If I was too drunk to remember sleeping with someone, I was too drunk to sleep with someone; safe sex is, to me, pure instinct.

My alcohol consumption at the party last night barely registered on my Richter scale of substance abuse, though, so it took only a few minutes of shaky concentration to recall that she had been more than a little tipsy, and that I walked her home, and we made out on her couch, and we both had the presence of mind to call it off before it got too far.

Good for us.

It didn't explain why I was naked, though. And it certainly didn't explain who she was. Best-case scenario, she was September, the glorious siren who'd taken my breath away last night with her musical laugh and dazzling green dress. Worst-case scenario, she was my irritating photographer, Gretchen; this would make things really awkward, because she'd caught me speaking ill of her behind her back last night, and I was still pretty mortified.

I heaved and pulled, and one of my eyes finally pried open. Her hair was red. The good news was that Gretchen was blond. The bad news was that September was brunette. So who the hell was she? And why was she wearing my shirt?

She groaned unsteadily, "You awake?"

"Not so loud," I replied. Sure I was a pro at this, but that didn't make the headaches any easier.

She whispered, "You awake?"

"I want you to go over this conversation in your head for a second," I whispered back, "and then think about the answer to that question."

"I had no idea you were such an asshole, Mike."

"My name's not Mike."

She sat straight up. "Oh my god, I am so sorry, dude!"

"It's not Dude either."

"Mitch?"

"Do I look like a Mitch?"

She sighed. "Oh, Jesus, this is bad."

"It was that kind of night."

Her wobble indicated that she knew exactly what I was talking about, and she lowered herself back onto me. In the brief moment she'd been thrashing around, I caught a glimpse of my boxers on her hips. I really needed to get to the bottom of this.

"Matt?" she whimpered.

"Getting warmer," I replied. Her name was Emma.

"That's right," Emma moaned. "You have the same name as one of my friends."

"You have a friend named Dude?"

Evidently, she didn't find it necessary to remind me what an asshole she thought I was. "What exactly did we do last night?"

"Well ..."

"Never mind," she interrupted. "I remember everything now. Thanks."

"For what?"

"For an asshole, you have a lot of restraint."

"Men are more than just sex-crazed animals, you know."

"Just take the thanks."

"You're welcome."

She asked, "Could you do me a favor, Max?"

Wow, it only took her four tries. Yet my self-esteem couldn't think of a single reason to be nice to her at this point. "It's Mike, actually."

"Could you hold my hair back when I go throw up?"

"You realize," I informed her, "that as soon as do that, I will never be able to think of you sexually again."

"That's a sacrifice I'm going to have to make."

I wish I could say I was right about that sacrifice. Sure, there was nothing at all appealing about the seven to ten minutes I spent restraining her chaotic, cinnamon-colored curls from tangling up with a ribbon of liquor and mostly digested hors d'oeuvres; but the way she sank to the tile floor turned me on even more than her turtleneck-stocking-knee-high-boots combo from last night. I couldn't tell you why with any certainty, but I was willing to bet that it was because, in that moment, she was more naked than I was--and all I had to wear was this bedsheet.

That all dissolved when she belched. With a grimace, she told me, "I think there's a spare toothbrush around here somewhere."

"I brought my own."

She squinted at me. "Dude," she said, "don't you think that's a little presumptuous?"

"My name's not Dude," I replied. "Besides, you've got a pack of condoms in your purse."

"So?"

"Oral hygiene is very important to me," I added.

"You know what, dude?" she groaned. "I don't care about your cavities. I need some privacy."

"My name's not Dude."

"Get the fuck out."

I waited in the hallway through the sound of the toilet flushing, the whir of an electric toothbrush, and the toilet flushing again. The door cracked open just a little, and her fingers snaked out, waving my underwear like a flag of surrender. My shirt followed a moment afterward.

"Why are you wearing all of my clothes, anyway?" I asked her hand.

"I needed something to sleep in."

"You don't have anything in your own place?"

"It's not mine," she said. "Apartment-sitting." She added, "Boy clothes are more comfortable."

"I've never tried to sleep in a bra, so I'll have to take your word for it."

"Trust me, dude."

"My name's not--"

She slammed the door. While she showered, I located my boots, my tie, my leather pea coat, and my khakis, donning them in that order. Finally, alert, refreshed, and bound in terrycloth, she emerged from the cleansing steam of the bathroom. "All yours if you want it."

I frowned at her. "That's a boy robe."

"This is a boy apartment."

"And this didn't occur to you last night when you made me strip down to nothing?"

She looked me up and down before replying, "It did."

I didn't want to smirk, but I couldn't help myself. "How's the hangover?"

"Pretty much gone."

"Want to have sex?"

She laughed, stopping mid-ha. "You're serious."

I held up my index finger. "We didn't last night, even though we both wanted to." I held up my middle finger. "You have condoms." My ring finger went up. "I don't have to be to work until ..." I glanced at my cheap-looking watch. "... twenty minutes ago." I showed her my pinkie. "I don't actually like you, and I have no intention of calling you after I leave today, and I'm certain the feeling is mutual."

She mumbled, "Well, I wasn't going to say it out loud ..."

To wrap it all up, I extended my thumb. "And finally, I have a thing for redheads, and you have a thing for sleazy, arrogant bastards. You can't argue with my logic."

"You're right," she replied, "I can't. Get naked."

I began disassembling the tie I'd just reassembled.

"Brush your teeth first, dude," she added.



to be continued...